There is a lot of attention for the Muslim Brotherhood, for being the mother of all (violent) Islamists whereas among radical islamists they are condemned for rejecting jihad and embracing democracy. Also, contrary to popular belief, the Muslim Brotherhood is not a hierarchical organization that is organized in one particular centre. Given the ‘considerable‘ variation between the group’s different branches and tendencies (at least in competition with each other and sometimes hostile) that should not be conflated, it is therefore better to talk about networks of Muslim Brotherhoods. The Muslim Brotherhood has been active in the Netherlands for quite some time now. The NEFA Foundation has published a rather flawed report (because mostly based on flawed publications in the press) about the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Netherlands.
One of the organisations listed as a Muslim Brotherhood organisation is the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe (FIOE) that is related to Islamic scholar Yusuf al Qaradawi. The FIOE has a Dutch branch the FION apparently headed by Yahia Bouyafa who is very active in a national umbrella organisation of Muslims and previously also played a role in the recent controversies about public broadcasting for Muslims. Bouyafa was involved in an initiative the establish a new Islamic broadcasting company that, contrary to the old ones) would also include other branches of Islam such as Shia and Ahmadiyya. In the past Dutch newspaper Telegraaf had to issue a rectification for its allegations that Bouyafa was part of the Muslim Brotherhood. A while ago the FIOE announced the establishment of a new organisation for Muslim youth and students in the Netherlands. Also activists and scholars affiliated with FIOE haven regularly visited the Netherlands, for example last year Gamal Badawi who held a lecture at a Rotterdam students organization.
The FIOE also has announced that, in cooperation with the FION it is organizing a conference in Amsterdam from 28-30 May 2010: Islam in Holland – Meditating on the Present and Future Horizons. According to the FIOE:
The International Support Organization in Collaboration with the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Holland
his conference aims at initiating positive methodological dialogue between Muslims and Dutch political, intellectual and religious activists, hoping to clarify opinions and remove misunderstandings around controversial or critical issues pertaining to Muslims or other segments, in order to achieve positive communication and strengthen social co-existence and support cooperation amongst members of the community, to serve the general good within the context of citizenship. The conference will issue a concluding statement under the title of the “Document of Diverse Consensus” which will be presented in the final session, after deliberations with all participating parties in the conference, such that it tackles all points which were under discussion in brief summaries. These results will be considered as starting points for work and collaboration in society during the period after the conference as well as the possibility of cascading them to societies and institutions to gain their endorsement of this document, so that it could become like a constitution of common effort in Dutch society.
Following is a list of intellectuals who were invited to attend the conference from various European regions:
Dr.Salman Bin Fahd Al Ouda
Dr.Ali Al Kardaghy
Dr.Gaafar Al Sheikh Idrees
Dr.Ahmed Gab Allah
Dr.Heba Raouf Ezzat
Dr.Adel Al Fallah
Dr.Mutlak Al Karawy
Invitees from Holland
Professor Wassef Shedid – University of Tilburg
Professor Terboch – University of Leiden
Professor Peter Van Koningsfeld – University of Leiden
Professor Rod Peter – University of Amsterdam (I think Professor Ruud Peters is meant here, MdK)
Professor Kassem Al Samaraey – University of Leiden
Dr.Mohamed Ghaly – University of Leiden
It is not very remarkable that much of the controversy about Muslim Brotherhoods in the Netherlands focus in the FIOE and its Dutch branch. It is clearly an organization with a strong presence in the Islamic representational infrastructure and one of the most clearly visible branches (that European organization that is) on the world wide web. It is remarkable though that another branch of the Muslim Brotherhoods is neglected in most of the news reports and analysis. The offshoot of that branch (although not connected anymore to any Muslim Brotherhoods branch) merits much more scrutiny in my opinion than the alledged connection of the FIOE with Muslim Brotherhoods. Maybe I will write something more about that in the future.
The FIOE and several other organizations in Europe have profited from the European preference work with formal organized groups to establish organisations for representation of Muslims in order to co-opt ethnic and religious elites. Such a policy is (indeed) elitist and severly restricts democratic participation of individuals and organisations that to not have the same resources as for example the FIOE. Nevertheless the FIOE has made some interesting contributions among and about Muslim life in Europe and it is worthwhile to see what this conference will bring.