The Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID) has announced that at its 17th Annual Conference held on 21 April 2016, it awarded the organization’s “Muslim Democrat of the Year” award posthumously to the late Jamal Barzinji and Taha Jabir Al-Alwani, founding figures of both CSID and the US Muslim Brotherhood. According to video of the CSID ceremony, the awards were accepted by Hisham Altalib, a longtime close colleague of Barzinji’s and Zainab Al-Alwani, the daughter of Taha Jabir Al-Alwani. As documented in a history of the US Muslim Brotherhood (USMB) authored by the GMBDW editor, Dr. Jamal Barzinji along with Dr. Hisham Altalib played key roles in the founding and development of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) which went on to spawn almost of all of the other organizations composing the US Muslim Brotherhood today. The history goes on to explain how Dr. Barzinji subsequently became a founding member of the Saudi World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), said by U.S. government agencies and officials to have helped spread Islamic extremism around the world as well as sponsoring terrorism in places such as Bosnia, Israel, and India. The same report also notes that Dr. Al-Alwani was also identified as being part of WAMY and that both he and Dr. Barzinji were present at a 1977 meeting in Lugano, Switzerland that was described as the “first organized conference on the Muslim intellectual crisis.” The meeting was attended by many luminaries of the Global Muslim Brotherhood including Youssef Qaradawi, the best known leader in the global Brotherhood with a long and extensive record of extremism including calling for the death of all Jews. Subsequent to the Lugano meeting, the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) was founded in the US in 1980 by US. Muslim Brotherhood leaders including Barzinji and Altalib who wished to promote the “Islamization of Knowledge” as conceived by Ismail Al-Faruqi, a mentor to both Barzinji and Altalib with his own history of anti-semitism. IIIT was associated with the now defunct SAAR Foundation, a network of Islamic organizations located in Northern Virginia that was raided by the Federal government in March 2002 in connection with the financing of terrorism and both organizations had been under investigation at that time by the US. Justice Department until at least mid 2007. A 1991 internal document of the US Muslim Brotherhood, introduced as evidence in the Holy Land Foundation terrorism trial, included IIIT in “a list of our organizations and organizations of our friends.”
A bio of Dr. Taha Al-Alwani identified him as both the IIIT President as well as a member of numerous Islamic religious councils including the Council of the Muslim World League, an organization like WAMY also associated with Saudi extremism, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference’s Islamic Fish Academy, both organizations headquartered in Saudi Arabia. Al-Alwani was also a founder and former chairman of the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA), an organization comprised of Islamic scholars associated with the Global Muslim Brotherhood. As FCNA itself acknowledges, the organization grew out of the activities of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) and later became affiliated with the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), itself an outgrowth of MSA. FCNA maintains a relationship with other similar bodies in the Global Muslim Brotherhood including the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR), headed by Youssef Qaradawi, as well as the Islamic Fiqh Academy in Saudi Arabia. One of the more notorious FCNA members is Solah Soltan, an individual with a history of virulent anti-Semitism including statements made during an April 2010 interview on a Hamas TV station in which he accused Jews of using Christian blood for Matzoh (substitute for bread used during the Jewish holiday of Passover) in an example of what is called “blood libel”, the accusations that Jews use human blood in religious rituals. (Historically these are accusations that the blood of Christian children is especially coveted and date back to the 1st Century.) As for the ECFR, in 2004 the Wall Street Journal report that a Council member cited the notorious anti-Semitic “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” in a position paper on how Muslim families are under threat in Europe. “The Protocols, the speaker said, was evidence of a Jewish plot to undermine Muslim moral values through sexual permissiveness.” (In a recent TV interview Solah Sultan, also cited the Protocols.)
Given this long-standing history of both Jamal Barzinji and Taha Jabir Al-Alwani with Saudi Arabian religious extremism, Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi, and the US Muslim Brotherhood, among other things all afflicted with pervasive anti-semitism never condemned by either figure, the GMBDW wonders what prompted their CSID “Muslim Democrat of the Year” awards other than that both were founding members of CSID. We also see no evidence whatsoever that either Barzinji or Al-Alwani had ever engaged in any activity to promote either democracy or human rights in any sense that we understand it. In short, the GMBDW considers these two individuals to be odd choices indeed as exemplars of “Democracy” of any kind, Islamic or not.
The Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID) was founded in 1998 in what appears to have been a cooperative effort among the US Muslim Brotherhood, the US State Department and Georgetown University academic Dr. John Esposito who served during the 1990’s as a State Department “foreign affairs analyst” and who has at least a dozen past or present affiliations with global Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas organizations. Antony Sullivan, a former CSID Vice-Chair, has many ties to U.S. Brotherhood groups including the Association of Muslim Social Scientists (AMSS), the United Association for Studies and Research (USAR), and the Circle of Tradition and Progress (COTP), a group whose other founding members included Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi. From its inception, CSID has argued that the U.S. government should support Islamist movements in foreign countries and has received financial support from the U.S. State Department, the National Endowment for Democracy and the United States Institute of Peace. CSID is currently heavily promoting Tunisian Muslim Brotherhood leader Rachid Ghannouchi, another individual frequently described as “moderate” but who also has an extensive record of extremism.
For an obituary of Jamal Barzinji, go here.
For an obituary of Taha Jabir Al-Alwani, go here.