The Huffington Post is reporting on a Muslim organization in Belgium that raised money to support a local synagogue. The report begins:
Have you heard the story about the Muslim community in Belgium that raised money to restore a local synagogue?
Probably not. But it is really important that you do.
The story was first brought to my attention by my colleagues at HuffPost Germany who reported that the oldest Jewish house of worship in Belgium, Synagogue d’Arlon, had been forced to close its doors because of structural problems with the building.
When word went out that the Jewish congregation was short of the funds needed to re-open, a local Muslim community took it upon themselves to call for donations at Friday prayer — even though they themselves do not have a permanent mosque and pray in a converted house.
The movement to help their Jewish neighbors then spread to Muslims across Belgium who contributed to the fund. In a communiqué released by the Association of Muslims of Arlon (AMA), Hajib el-Hajjaji urged fellow Muslims to contribute: “It is important to save this synagogue for the families and children who find comfort and fraternity there. The Jewish community needs support to live fully — like all other faiths — in full freedom, security and comfort.”
I asked Mohamed Bouezmarni, the General Secretary of AMA about the gesture. He wrote back, saying: “We were very touched by the call of Rabbi Jacob. Since the synagogue closing, he has considered himself a ‘wandering Jew.’ This precarious situation we know well also, since we do not have a real mosque to our offices.”
The Muslim community ended up raising 2,400 Euro (about 2,600 dollars), which they presented to Rabbi Jacobs at an emotional roundtable discussion on the theme of “Living Together” where they were joined by other religious and secular leaders from the city.
Read the rest here,
In October 2013, the GMBDW reported on the 2nd annual Islamic Expo to have been held in Brussels. At that time we noted that the event was to have been addressed by Ahmed Al-Rawi, a leader of the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE), representing the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe. Also scheduled to address the event was Hajib El Hajjaji, identified in a NEFA Foundation report authored by the GMBDW editor as a leader in the Belgian Muslim Brotherhood and likely part of a family that is tied to the Hamas infrastructure in Belgium. As the Belgian town of Arlon is only 122 km from Verviers, the home of the El Hajjaji family, it is likely that this is the same individual identified above as the signatory to the Association of Muslims of Arlon statement.
It should be noted that the relationship between the Global Muslim Brotherhood and local Jewish communities is complex. In general, the Brotherhood in general is beset with virulent anti-Semitism. As recently as November of last year we reported that the notoriously anti-Semitic Tariq Suwaidan, a leader in the Kuwaiti Muslim Brotherhood, was scheduled to speak at the Brussel’s Muslim Fair until the government banned him from entering the country on the basis of his anti-Semitism. At times we judge interfaith activities occurring between local Jewish communities and Brotherhood groups as a form of propagandizing by the Brotherhood designed to gain them enhanced legitimacy. Yet at other times, Global Muslim Brotherhood leaders actively cooperate with those Jews whose own hatred of Israel is strong enough to qualify them for such a partnership. At still other times, it appears that the Brotherhood is prepared to accept some form of co-existence with local Jews on the basis that Jews are also “people of the book.” There is insufficient information to understand where to place the activity described in the above report along this spectrum but it is unlikely that 2600 dollars will change these dynamics.