From Toulouse to Cairo (ISRAEL HAYOM OP-ED) Dore Gold 04/06/12)
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Last week, French security forces arrested 19 radical Islamic
activists in Paris and four other French cities, including Toulouse,
where a French Muslim, who identified with al-Qaida, killed Rabbi
Yonatan Sandler and three Jewish school children on March 19. Weapons
were also seized in the raid. President Nicolas Sarkozy bluntly gave
the general reason for the arrests: "It´s in connection with a form
of Islamist radicalism."
The French were not using the politically correct language used in
the U.S. in recent years where officials talk about a war on
terrorism, but are reluctant to single out radical Islam by name.
Among the measures that the French government proposed was banning
entry into France for radical clerics who are Palestinian, Saudi and
Egyptian, and who wanted to attend a conference on April 6 held by
the Union des Organizations Islamiques de France (UOIF).
One of those barred was Sheik Yusuf Qaradawi, who is known as the
spiritual head of the global Muslim Brotherhood. Sarkozy himself
appeared to identify one of the underlying causes of Islamic
militancy in France: the dangerous ideologies that French Muslim
youth were absorbing.
As a result, one of the first measures Sarkozy took after the
Toulouse attacks was a decision that the French government would
prosecute people who regularly consulted jihadi websites or who had
traveled abroad for radical Islamist indoctrination.
How did France get into this position in the first place? It is
extremely important to examine the main organizations that have
assumed a leading position among French Muslims, like the UOIF. While
the group presented itself to French authorities as a moderating
force among alienated Muslim youth in France in the 1990s, it is
important to remember that the UOIF was really the French branch of
the Muslim Brotherhood.
Lorenzo Vidino, an academic and security expert who specializes in
Islamism and political violence in Europe and North America, has
carefully examined the ideology of the European branches of the
Muslim Brotherhood. He notes that while its representatives have been
formally condemning violence since the Sept. 11 terror attacks, they
have a different interpretation of what constitutes terrorism. He
points out that Qaradawi has written about cases in which "terrorism
that is permitted by Islamic law," particularly when Islamic
territories are under occupation, like Chechnya, Kashmir, or Iraq for
most of the last 10 years, as well as the territories claimed by the
In Israel, the Muslim Brotherhood movement is largely perceived in
the context of Egypt, where it was founded, and the rest of the
Middle East. However, the group has a network of active branches that
have grown in major European countries, like Britain, Germany, and
Part of Europe´s current problem has been a tendency to underestimate
the deep hostility of the Muslim Brotherhood toward the European
states that are hosting it. Qaradawi has been a guest in London in
the past, while al-Banna´s grandson, the Swiss-born Tariq Ramadan,
teaches at Oxford University. The French government expressed its
regret that the UOIF had invited Ramadan to the same event with the
radical clerics, though it did not bar him from entering France.
Few pay attention to the movement´s expansionist orientation toward
the West and its calls, voiced in the past and present, for re-
establishing an Islamic empire. Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the
Muslim Brotherhood demanded:
"We want the Islamic flag to be hoisted once again on high,
fluttering in the wind ... Thus Andalusia, Sicily, the Balkans, the
Italian coast, as well as the islands of the Mediterranean, are all
of them Muslim Mediterranean colonies and they must return to the
The French should recall that the Islamic conquests expanded north of
Spain, when much of southern France was subdued up until the town of
Poitiers. Although it has not been forgotten by the Muslim
Brotherhood, there are those who prefer to ignore this history. They
also prefer to ignore the fact that the motto of the Muslim
Brotherhood, which appears on its publications, includes the
words: “Jihad is our path; martyrdom is our aspiration."
More recently, Sheik Qaradawi himself declared: "Constantinople was
conquered in 1453 by a 23-year-old Ottoman named Muhammad ibn Murad,
whom we call Muhammad the Conqueror. Now what remains is to conquer
Rome. That is what we wish for, and that is what we believe in. After
having been expelled twice, Islam will be victorious and reconquer
Europe ... I am certain that this time, victory will be won not by
the sword but by preaching." The UOIF, it should be pointed out, has
a chateau in France where it trains imams under Sheik Qaradawi.
This past weekend, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood announced that its
deputy supreme guide, Khairet al-Shater, would be running in the
Egyptian presidential elections. Should the Muslim Brotherhood
control the presidency of Egypt, this would have profound
implications not only for the security of Israel, but for European
states as well.
A Muslim Brotherhood-controlled Egypt would be well-placed for
channeling its ideology and resources on behalf of radical Islam to
France and the rest of Europe. By controlling the Islamic legal
opinions coming out of al-Azhar University in Cairo, the Egyptian
Muslim Brotherhood could influence the entire Sunni Muslim world.
By taking a liberal stand on the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in
the Middle East, European states will be pursuing a self-defeating
policy. They would, in effect, be strengthening the movements that
are currently undermining their internal security most directly.
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