CAIRO - 20 August 2019: Another report has come out reiterating the Muslim Brotherhood’s ambitious world project, this time from France. French Muslims find themselves surrounded by the MB whenever they want to connect to their religion, in many cases leading them astray - an extremist path that hurts those Muslims, the French people at large and Islam itself. In early August, the
published an in-depth piece by Pakistani journalist Taha Siddiqui, who revealed that every bit of Islam in France, from local mosques, NGOs, to representation before the authorities is monopolized by the group.
By entrenching their rule in Muslim-majority states and establishing an outreach among Muslim communities in the west, the Islamic group was closer than ever to its goal in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. They were dealt a massive blow in Egypt when their regime was overthrown in 2013, infuriating Qatar and Turkey who back themselves with with the the most driven and widespread Islamist group worldwide after decades of dedication since inception in 1928 in Egypt, the very country that ousted them and executed their beloved theorist, Sayyid Qutb, who until this day inspires the deadliest terrorist organizations, such as al-Qaeda, the Islamic Jihad and the Islamic State.
Sayyid Qutb - AFP/Getty Images
The MB has existed in France for decades, but since the heavy financial and political support the group has enjoyed for many years now, France has witnessed a spate of Islamist violence, prompting the authorities to counter the radicalization spiral instead of leaving the matter to foreign powers.
Siddiqui sets the Muslims of France (MDF) as an example of the face of the MB in France. Established in 1983, it boasts 1,600 members and over 600 affiliated NGOs. It was once called the Union of Islamic Organisations of France, but reinvented itself in 2017 to be MDF after , the UAE designated it as a terrorist organization due to its strong links to the MB.
The MB itself is designated terrorist in UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The Trump administration did not follow suit because “the criteria for designating a terrorist organization are not a good fit for the Muslim Brotherhood, which is less a coherent body than a loose-knit movement with chapters in different countries,” Siddiqui reports.
That may be the case with the MB, but that also leaves countries designating every emerging violent Islamist group as terrorist, one after another that crumbled, changed its name or whose members joined another group, while all those groups are essentially affiliated to the MB and continue to reinvent themselves based on the MB ideology on the theoretical aspect, at least.
As Siddiqui puts it, the Mb denies violence but many members and offshoots have created terrorist organizations or committed terrorist acts, most notably Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s second leader.
A screengrab from 2005 shows the current leader of Al Qaeda, Ayman Al Zawahiri. AFP Photo
The Investigative Journal interviews Mohamed Louizi, a former MDF associate, who revealed that the group is still linked to MB and is also a “hub for spreading Islamic radicalization in France,” as well as l’Association France Plurielle (Pluralist France).
French Islamist figure Anouar Kbibech was a leader of Pluralist France, went on to become the head of the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM), which is recognized by the French state itself. Louizi told the Investigative Journal that Kbibech also believes in the MB ideology and heading a state-sponsored organization like CFCM indicates the depth of the MB infiltration in France though group’s supporters.
Anouar Kbibech, president of the French Council for the Muslim Religion (CFCM). Photo: AFP )
Louizi says the MB also controls many mosques in France, to the extent of “banning” him from his local mosque.
”[A]nd then Qatar came into the picture, and starting pumping money into mdf in via Qatar Charity, as also proven by the recent book – Qatar Papers – How the State Finances Islam in France and Europe,” Louizi adds.
French journalists Georges Malbrunot and Christian Chesnot, investigate the Qatari funding of Muslim Brotherhood affiliated organizations in Europe in Qatar Papers, providing cheques, official documents and testimonials, according to the Investigative Journal.
Turkey also plays a significant role in supporting the MB across Europe. Foreign imams in France are numerous, as opposed to France born imams who presumably understand young French Muslims more. Some 151 imams have been sent by Turkey 120 by Algeria, and 30 by Morocco, the Investigative Journal reports the French Interior Ministry as saying.
“The French President wants to ensure that there is no foreign funding within the Muslim organizations operating in France. He has also suggested training clerics/Imams at home rather than abroad and wants more transparency with the issue of collecting charity from French Muslims,” The Investigative Journal says.
The MB is notorious for collecting charity for its own purposes.
A research paper by Rim-Sarah Alouane for the Brookings Institution, resonates Louizi and Qatar Papers. The MB “is also a major motivator for radical Islam in France and they have been operating through local affiliates including the MDF,” the Investigative Journal quotes Alouane as saying. She explains that the French government finally recognized that leaving the management of Islam to foreign powers jeopardizes its national security.
On France’s actions towards the issue, journalist and activist Zineb el-Rhazoui told the Investigative Journal “the French government needs to apply the law. No religious place can host a political meeting and many of these NGOs are violating that.”
Rhazoui and a team of volunteers try to help the government by collecting information on radical speeches by Muslim thinkers in France, according to the report.
As expected, the speeches, according to Rhazoui, are dominated by the ideas of the MB founder, Hassan al-Banna and its major preacher, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian who lives in Qatar. Even though Qaradawi is banned from entering France, his books are widespread in the European country, through the MDF, for example, the report writer Siddiqui says.
Qatar’s Egyptian-born cleric Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi - AFP
Head of the Muslim Association for a French Islam, an NGO set to compete with the numerous MB counterparts, Hakim El Karoui, told Siddiqui “[t]hese organizations that had links with the Muslim Brotherhood had a public message of integration but they also have a secret agenda which goes against integration.”
“They want to manage all of the French Muslims under their rule, and control them, and also want to take over other French people,” Karoui says.