The Al-Sharq Youth Forum (ASYF) has announced its third annual conference which was held from 29-30 April. According to the conference announcement:
The third annual conference of Al-Sharq Youth Forum will be taking place in Istanbul, Turkey on the 29th and 30th of this month. A large number of Youth is expected to attend this event from around the world as over 5 thousand persons registered for participation among more than 70 different countries and nationalities.
The conference, entitled “The Middle East: A New Era”, is preceded by a contest for two days. In the “Hackathon” Challenge contest, contestants are to display and present their innovative ideas and projects through determined steps designed by a specialized team.
On the first day of the conference, there will be several speeches and talks by distinguished speakers in various domains during the sessions of “Lightings from the East”. There will also be other specialized sessions and workshops about various intellectual, scientific, technical, social and environmental issues.
The Program will also include intellectual and political debates and discussions as well as for special meetings to discuss future steps in working on the three main tracks of Al-Sharq: political, economic and media fields.
In the final session, and after presenting their innovative ideas, winners of Al-Sharq Prize for 2016 will be awarded on Al-Sharq Platform Stage. Events of the conference will be propagated through Al-Sharq accounts on Social Media Networks: Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
The announcement goes on to explain the ASYF as follows:
Worth to mention, that Al-Sharq Youth Forum is a decentralized network that emerged from Al-Sharq Forum since 2012 consisting of active youth members from around the Middle East. The network aims at reinforcing values of communication, dialogue and democracy among Youth in the Middle East as well as for contributing to the establishment of a politically stabilized and an economically prosperous future.
In January 2012, The GMBDW reported on the launch of the Sharq Forum in Tunisia and noted that he head of its preparatory committee was former Al Jazeera general manager Wadah Khanfar who has many ties to Hamas and the Global Muslim Brotherhood. The chair of the launch was Anas Altikriti, the most important leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in the UK. Since that time, the Sharq Forum website has identified Khanfar as its President. Although at first glance the ASYF speakers in general do not appear to be tied to the Global Muslim Brotherhood, more intensive investigation has revealed the following:
- One of the featured speakers is Intissar Kherigi, the daughter of Tunisian Muslim Brotherhood leader Rachid Ghannouchi and a past President of the Federation of Muslim Youth and Student Organizations (FEMYSO), the youth wing of the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE) representing the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe.
- Although not listed as a speaker, the Twitter feed of Khallad Swaid suggests he was a participant at the event. In January 2010, we identified Khallad Swaid as the Deputy Head of the Islamische Gemeinschaft Deutschland (IGD), long considered by the German government to be the representative of the Muslim Brotherhood in Germany, the former President of FEMYSO, and a past Chairman of the Muslimische Jugend (MJD), a FEMYSO member also tied to the Muslim Brotherhood in Germany.
- One of the featured participants in a conference workshop titled the “International Track Workshop.” is listed as the “International Islamic Federation of Students”, presumably the same organization as the International Islamic Federation of Student Organizations (IIFSO), a group closely tied to the global Muslim Brotherhood and where Waddah Khanfar was the Director of Human Resource Development when he was living in South Africa. Another participant in the workshop is listed as “Young Musiad”, presumably a youth wing of the Turkish Islamist businessman’s association known as Musiad, an organization with its own ties to the Global Muslim Brotherhood and to Hamas.
At the 2015 ASYF conference Nihad Awad, the leader of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), presented a workshop titled “Creating a lobby – Learnings from CAIR.” In December 2014, the MUSIAD USA website reported that its key leaders had visited with CAIR at its Washington offices where they invited American Muslims to participate in its upcoming International Fair and International Business Forum Congress in Istanbul and expressed gratitude for “the strengthening of economic ties between the two organizations and their respective members.” MUSIAD USA President Mustafa Tuncer presented a plaque of appreciation to Nihad Awad, the CAIR National Executive Director. Given that CAIR emerged out of the US Hamas infrastructure and that MUSAID is close to the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling AKP Party, in turn close to the Global Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, the basis for a relationship between MUSIAD and CAIR is very clear. The GMBDW does wonder if the allusion to “economic ties” between the two group says something about the funding of CAIR.