In our post from yesterday, “Jewish Rabbis To Join Global Muslim Brotherhood At Morocco Conference On Religious Minorities; What Are They Thinking?”, the GMBDW examined the wisdom of important Jewish rabbis attending a conference led by Mauritanian theological scholar Abdallah Bin Bayyah who has long history of membership in profoundly anti-Semitic organizations. Today, the GMBDW will take a look at another organization in which Bin Bayyah participates and that includes two other individuals as problematic as Bin Bayyah himself. In 2012, we first reported on the UK-registered Global Center for Renewal and Guidance (GCRG). The GMBDW has long described the CRG as follows:
According to Saudi media, the Global Center for Renewal and Guidance is a UK-based organization created to “improve” the Islamic education curriculum and headed by Abdullah Omar Naseef who has held many important positions in Saudi Arabia including serving as Vice-President of the Kingdom’s Shura Council, President of King Abdul Aziz University, and most importantly as Secretary-General of the Muslim World League (MWL) from 1983-1993. Dr. Naseef also heads the Cairo-based International Islamic Council for Da’wa and Relief, (IICDR), an umbrella group for 86 Islamic organizations, many of which are associated with the global Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas fundraising, or material/financial support of Al Qaeda.
The GCRG Facebook page confirms that Naseef continues to head the organization as its Chair of Trustees but also adds that Abdallah Bin Bayyah is the GCRG Executive President and US-based Hamza Yusuf, also a featured participant at the Morocco conference, is the GCRG Vice President. The only known work of the GCRG, as reported by its now defunct website, was the sponsorship of a 2010 conference in Dubai promoting reconciliation in Somalia under the auspices of Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, the former President of Somalia tied to both the Muslim Brotherhood and to Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi as reported by the GMBDW in 2009.
Aside from the troubling ties of Abdullah Omar Naseef, Hamza Yusuf has his own problematic history. Yusuf first came to public attention in 2001 in connection with provocative statements he made shortly before the 911 attacks in which he said that the U.S. “stands condemned” and that “this country has a great, great tribulation coming to it”, comments which led FBI agents to pay a visit to his house. According to the Washington Post, Islamic experts had said that Yusuf is “one example of a Muslim leader who speaks of peace to the American public though he has used incendiary language in private.” The report noted that Yusuf had defended Jamil Al-Amin, the Muslim cleric formerly known as Rap Brown who faced charges in the killing of a sheriff’s deputy during an Atlanta shootout and had said that Omar Abdel Rahman, the “Blind Sheikh” convicted in the first WTC bombing was “unjustly tried, was condemned against any standards of justice in any legal system. The Post also reported in 2001 that Yusuf had also made some troubling statements about Jews:
In 1995 he said, “the Jews would have us believe that God had this bias to this little small tribe in the middle of the Sinai desert, and all the rest of humanity is just rubbish. I mean, that is the basic doctrine of the Jewish religion and that’s why it is a most racist religion.” “Those are old speeches,” Yusuf said yesterday about those remarks. “I’ve spent 10 years in the Arab world and I’ve learned their language. . .. Anti-semitism, anti-anything does not reflect my core values. If people were fair, they would see my spiritual growth, as a person, as a religious scholar.”
So, is there any independent evidence of Hamza Yusuf”s “spiritual growth?” In 2007, the GMBDW reported that Yusuf had posted a statement on his blog entitled “Holocaust Denial Undermines Islam.” As we noted, the bulk of the article is devoted to affirming the truth of the Nazi holocaust and to rebuking the Holocaust denial movement. The concluding paragraph, however, states
Perhaps in acknowledging that immense past of Jewish suffering, in which the Holocaust is only the most heinous chapter, Muslims can better help the Jewish community to understand the current Muslim pain in Palestine, Iraq and other places. In finding out about others, we encourage others to find out about us. It would greatly help our Jewish brethren to know the historical facts of Jewish experience in the Muslim world, which are often heartening and humanizing and very different from their European experience. In our mutual edification, we grow together.
Muslim Brotherhood statements often conflate events in places such as Israel/Palestine and Iraq with the Nazi holocaust as well as asserting that the Islam is historically tolerant of Jews compared with Europe, ignoring the widespread existence of virulent anti-Semitism in the contemporary Islamic world, the existence of which can be traced in part to the Muslim Brotherhood itself. Perhaps it is no coincidence that Yusuf is often found at US Muslim Brotherhood events and a member of a number of Muslim Brotherhood organizations. Examples cited by GMBDW have included:
- The UK-based Radical Middle Way features Yusuf as a speaker as well as Global Muslim Brotherhood leaders such as Tariq Ramadan and Jamal Badawi.
- An appearance at a 2009 Toronto convention which also featured Ramadan and Badawi as well as other Global Muslim Brotherhood leaders.
- A 2010 YouTube video made by the US Muslim Brotherhood and that featured Yusuf.
As if this is not enough to give any Jewish leader a reason to reconsider attending a conference featuring Abdallah Bin Bayyah and Hamza Yusuf, the GMBDW reported in 2010 that Yusuf had co-founded what was described as “America’s first ever Muslim college” together with Dr. Hatem Bazian, a California University professor who is also the President of the American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), a Palestinian advocacy group with strong ties to both the US Muslim Brotherhood and to the Hamas support infrastructure in the US. A report by the Anti-Defamation League describes the AMP as follows:
American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) is the leading organization providing anti-Zionist training and education to students and Muslim community organizations in the country. Founded in 2005, AMP promotes extreme anti-Israel views and has at times provided a platform for anti-Semitism under the guise of educating Americans about ‘the just cause of Palestine and the rights of self-determination.’
Video from an April 2004 antiwar rally shows Hatem Bazian calling for an “Intifada” in the US while more video from the same conference show Bazian talking about the “Arabs who are coming to help” in Iraq. Dr. Bazian later claimed that his remarks on a US Intifada were misunderstood.
One of the other officers of the American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) is Salah Sarsour, a board member of the Islamic Society of Milwaukee as well as the registered agent for the Wisconsin chapter of the Muslim American Society (MAS), a part of the US Muslim Brotherhood closely tied to the Egyptian organization. According to a former FBI analyst. the Sarsour family in Milwaukee is known to have many ties to the Hamas infrastructure in the US.
So, in addition to Abdallah Bin Bayyah’s long history of membership in profoundly anti-Semitic organizations, we can add that both he and Hamza Yusuf, another featured participant at the Morocco conference, are members in another organization led by a Saudi Islamist leader with ties to Global Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas fundraising, and Al Qaeda support organizations. In addition, Hamza Yusuf has a history of deeply troubling statements as well as an educational partnership with an individual who leads yet another anti-Semitic organization with ties to Hamas and who himself has called for an Intifada in the US.
Part 3 of this series will examine the wisdom of Jewish leaders associating with the US-based Islamic Society of North America (ISNA).