The Islamic University of Rotterdam (IUR) has announced that its leadership was in the US earlier this month in order to participate in President Obama’s “President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge”. According to the announcement, the IUR also signed a cooperation agreement with the Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut:
October 3, 2016 The Islamic University of Rotterdam starts with cooperation in the United States of America. Last week, the Executive Board signed a cooperation agreement with the Hartford Seminary in Hartford, USA. Both higher education institutions have agreed to strengthen each other in interreligious knowledge & dialogue and to promote the Erasmus+ Programme for student and staff mobility.
Hartford Seminary is a higher education institution with a unique multi-religious environment which aims to educate chaplains in a transparent and broad setting in the context of the pluralistic American society.
The IUR-Board was in the United States for establishing relations with the Hartford Seminary as well as attending the ‘President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge’, organized by the White House and the U.S. Department of Education on the Georgetown University and Gallaudet University in Washington.
A US Department of Education website describes the Campus Challenge as follows:
The U.S. Department of Education Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships works with the White House, and the Corporation for National and Community Service to lead the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge, an initiative inviting institutions of higher education to commit to interfaith and community service programming.
A quasi-official German Islamic news website reports that the IUR “has close religious ties to the Turkish Nurcu movement”, a Turkish religious movement that is considered to be the forerunner of the Gülen Movement but which has also been reported to have links to the AKP Party of Turkish President Erdogan. Earlier this month, Dutch media reported that the Dutch Parliament had approved a motion asking the Education Minister to withdraw accreditation from the IUR as a result of disparaging statements made by IUR Rector Ahmet Akgündüz about Kurds, Armenians, homosexuals, Jews and about beating women in “flagrant conflict with the principle of social responsibility.” The Minister indicated that accreditation cannot be withdrawn because legislation can not apply retroactively. According to a Turkish media report, Akgündüz is also a strong supporter of President Erdogan referring to him as “a true Muslim leader.”
The GMBDW has reported extensively on the relationship between the Hartford seminary, where former Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) president Ingrid Mattson until recently was the Director of the Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, and the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), a part of the US Muslim Brotherhood. According to the Seminary, Mattson continues to lecture at the institution. Our reporting on the relationship between the Seminary and IIIT has included:
- In December 2009 we reported that IIIT had announced the formation of its Council of Scholars which included Ingrid Mattson.
- In February 2010, we reported that IIIT held a joint open house with the Macdonald Center at the Hartford Seminary.
- In April 2010, we reported on the establishment of an imam training program conducted by the Fairfax Institute, a part of IIIT, in cooperation with the Hartford Seminary.
- In August, 2011, we reported that IIIT had awarded one million dollars to the Hartford Seminary.
- November 2011, we reported that the Hartford Seminary had announced that it has established a “Graduate Certificate in Imam and Muslim Community Leadership” to be offered in cooperation with IIIT.
According to a recent Hudson Institute report, IIIIT was founded in the U.S. in 1980 by U.S. Muslim Brotherhood leaders including Jamal Barzinji and Hisham Altalib who wished to promote the “Islamization of Knowledge” and who were also early leaders of ISNA. 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 U.S. Justice Department until at least mid 2007. The organization appeared to have withdrawn from public view following the 2002 raids but seems to be enjoying a renaissance of late. IIIT has a network of affiliates located in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Although little is known about the activities of these IIIT affiliates, recent posts have discussed plans by IIIT to construct colleges in Bosnia and Lebanon.
In addition to its relationship with the the Hartford Seminary, the IUR announced in 2014 that it had signed a cooperation agreement with the Institut Européen des Sciences Humaines (IESH). IESH is an educational facility in France associated with the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE) and its French member the Union des organisations islamiques de France (UOIF), both organizations representing the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe. Previous posts have discussed the low graduation rate from the IESH campus in St. Denis and plans to open a second of the UK branches of the institution. In December 2014, the GMBDW reported that one of the killers of British soldier Lee Rigby had attended the Welsh campus.
Finally, in 2010 the Palestinian Platform in The Netherlands PPMS announced that Dr. Ahmed al-Baghdadi, described as a lecturer at the Islamic University of Rotterdam and Imam of the al-Mohsinin mosque in The Hague, had appeared at a symposium where PPMS leader Amin Abu Rashed gave the opening speech. (See Note at bottom for reference). Rashed is a well-known Hamas activist in the Netherlands and a leader in the Gaza Flotilla Movement, also tied to Hamas.
Note 1 “Positie van heiligdommen in het licht van de hervatting van de onderhandelingen PPMS Holland” http://www.ppmsholland.nl/Nederlands/wesima_articles/index-20100324-20.html downloaded Fri Jun 04 2010 00:23:37 GMT+0200 (CEST) but no longer available.)