Hamas Turmoil in Gaza is a Reflection of a Deeper Development in the Arab World

Center for Security Policy, by Louis Fleischman, May 17, 2018:

For the last six weeks, Hamas has been organizing protests under the slogan “the march of return.” The protests are presented to the world as peaceful demonstrations, but as the demonstrations unfold, Hamas operatives begin to activate their people urging them to breach the Gaza/Israel border fence. Then, they proceed to instruct their terrorists to use gun fire against Israeli soldiers, and fly inflammable kites aimed at burning fields. Participation in protests is encouraged either by offering payment to participants or by applying direct threats. Women are sent to the forefront of the marches to give Western TV crews the impression that the demonstrations are genuine, spontaneous and conducted by innocent and defenseless individuals.

The purpose, of course, is to trigger an Israeli reaction that would lead to the killing of Palestinians, as martyrdom has always been part of Hamas strategy and indoctrination. That killing would provoke a reaction of anger in the Palestinian and Arab streets. The world would react with outrage. The United Nations would follow with a condemnation while too many western analysts and media would repeat the unfounded notion that the absence of peace between Israel and the Palestinians causes violence and terror.

The last wave of violence was planned on the day the United States transferred its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. That provided an additional reason to mislead the public and make it believe that Hamas has a reasonable motive to start terror activities, regardless of how many times the group has undermined and destroyed the peace process by weakening the Palestinian Authority, murdering its soldiers and carrying terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians. There is no need to remind our readers that Hamas has vowed to destroy the state of Israel.

However, this time there might be a deeper reason why Hamas started its provocation.

The Arab world finds itself in the midst of a very serious internal struggle for its soul. The Arab Spring has slowly begun to change the social contract between the Arab people and its rulers. Arab states are now forced to take into account the well-being and desires of their citizens, long scorned by Arab secular autocracies. Arab states try to avoid a mass rebellion and thus they are trying to respond to some pressing domestic issues.

For decades, Arab authoritarian regimes and religious fanatics used Israel as a scapegoat, as an external enemy and a big threat. This is not easily sold to the Arab public today. Arabs may not think highly of Israel but Israel is not their priority. As a young Arab intellectual told me: “We don’t care about the Palestinians. It is not our problem. We care about ourselves and our future prosperity.” In the Arab world, priority is given to economic improvement, restoration of security, reduction of high levels of illiteracy, and the future of their children

Thus, though Islamic radical extremists and violent groups have tried to capitalize on the chaos generated by the Arab spring in order to gain political power, they so far have failed to achieve what they wanted and expected.

In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood was deposed with the blessing of the majority of Egyptian parties and groups. The government of Abdel Fattah El Sisi that deposed the Brotherhood is indeed authoritarian. However, according to several Arab intellectuals with whom I recently spoke, it enjoys support from Egyptians by virtue of the fact that during the year that the Brotherhood ruled Egypt, the country fell into a state of chaos, insecurity and disarray. Furthermore, he added, Egyptians are watching what is happening in other countries of the region such as Syria, Libya and Yemen where civil wars are having devastating effects. Egyptians view El Sisi as the person who saved the unity of the country and restored order. My Arab interlocutors told me cut and clear: people are afraid of Islamists and religious fanatics.

Along these lines, in Tunisia, the Islamist party known as “Enhanda” understood that Tunisian citizens were not willing to live the kind of life that Islamists proposed. Thus, it evolved into a party that attempts to adapt to what Tunisian citizens really demand, which is freedom from tyrannical rule and better conditions. Enhanda also accepted defeat in the elections and transfer of power. Furthermore, the leader of the party, Rachid Ghanouchi openly and publicly rejected the Iran/Taliban type of religious coercive/totalitarian rule.

Likewise, the atrocities committed by ISIS in Syria and Iraq and the fact that ISIS ruled part of these territories, became living proof of what living under Islamic rule is like. This has contributed to discrediting Islamists as well. As I was told by one of the Arab intellectuals I spoke with, “How is it that these organizations that represent religious extremism carry signs that call for Death to America and Israel but we, Arabs, are the only ones dying”?

In fact, even regarding Israel, things have begun to change. El Sisi has introduced the peace agreement with Israel in the curriculum of Egyptian schools; Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman recognized Israel’s right to have a homeland (thus indirectly also recognized the right of the Jewish nation to have a homeland); and; Bahrain, in an unusual statement, recognized Israel’s right to defend itself. In addition, these countries and Israel have been working together for some time to counteract Iran’s regional expansion.

To be sure, radical Islam has not yet been defeated. There is still a long way to go to remove its toxic and malicious influence. However, they are in military and political retreat despite their continuous acts of terrorism. ISIS is being defeated in the Levant. Iran has been pushed to the corner and forced to beg to the Europeans to keep the deal so vital for their economic survival.  Furthermore, recent confrontations between Iran and Israel in Syria and the destruction of Iran’s infrastructure in Syria have exposed Iran as weak and vulnerable.

Most importantly,  as the Tunisian and Egyptian case show, the situation generated after the Arab Spring has shown that their ways are not accepted by a large segment of the Arab public. As it was previously mentioned, Islamist parties such as Enhanda  have turned pragmatic and focused on economic challenges , which is the priority of the Arab street.

Thus, Hamas’s bombastic acts such as the “March of Return“ were aimed to serve not only Palestinian Islamic radicalism. It is important to remember that Hamas is not just a Palestinian organization. It views itself as part of a larger Pan–Islamist movement. It is an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, and it is supported by Iran, ISIS, Qatar and last but not least Turkey. Turkey, that once was presented as a model of democratic Islam (even by our own former President Barack Obama), is clearly showing its radical Islamist face. As scholar Soner Captgay pointed out last February, Islamic law is gaining ground in large sectors of Turkish society. Turkey’s military actions in Syria have been described as “jihad”; Turkey’s 90,000 mosques were instructed to recite the Koran’s ‘Prayer of conquest”; and; national police are actively involved in intimidation and censorship of writings and comments considered to be offensive to Islam. Turkey’s Ministry of Education is using its power to impose Islamic practices in public schools and force teachers to bring students to pray in local Mosques.

Turkey’s foreign policy has been to make alliances with Iran and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. It facilitated ISIS activities while launching a war against Kurdish groups that were fighting the Islamic State. In its rhetoric, Turkey is as hostile to Israel and to the Jewish people as any radical Islamist group and Iran and is currently a key supporter of Hamas.

The bloodshed and immolation of Palestinians organized by Hamas is not only an attempt to revive the Palestinian cause but also revitalize radical Islam in general.

Hamas actions are not about freedom for the Palestinians, the site of the American Embassy, or about the Israeli blockade. It is about the radical Islamic agenda, Palestinian and beyond, seeking a new impulse in the midst of defeat and isolation.

About Luis Fleischman

Dr. Luis Fleischman is a Senior adviser to the Menges Hemispheric Security Project at the Center for Security Policy in Washington DC. He is also an adjunct professor of Political Science and Sociology at Barry University He is the author of the book, “Latin America in the Post-Chavez Era: The Security Threat to the United States.”

Is There a Double Standard Favoring Jihadis?

Understanding the Threat, by Stephanie Ameiss, April 19, 2018:

On Saturday April 14th, less than two years after 49 people were killed by muslim Omar Mir Seddique Mateen, the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) and the Aisha Cultural Center hosted a “Positive Parenting Skills” conference at the Greenwood Lakes Middle School in Orlando, featuring Islamic scholar Dr. M. Rateb Al-Nabulsi.

Al-Nabulsi is a Syrian Sheikh who calls for the killing of gays and Jews.

ICNA (Islamic Circle of North America) was identified by evidence in the largest terrorism financing trial ever successfully prosecuted in American history – US v Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, Northern District of Texas, 2008 – as being a part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood’s Islamic Movement with the stated objective of waging “Civilization Jihad” to overthrow the U.S. government and establishing an Islamic State under sharia (Islamic law).

Why did the local government approve this event and why did local police/sheriff’s offices provide security for this event?

When a local camera crew opposed to the event showed up, the police were quick to threaten arrest for trespassing.  Why?

Local elected officials and police swear an oath to protect and defend the Constitution against seditious threats like this.

Will Greenwood Lakes Middle School in Orlando invite Understanding the Threat (UTT) to teach a session on American’s Founding Principles?   How about classes on the Muslim Brotherhood network in Florida, sharia, and the threat these pose to local Florida communities?

UTT is still waiting for a response to our call.

AppleMark

Khaled Bahgat, a muslim from Egypt, is the liaison officer between the Columbus (OH) Police Department and the city’s muslims, particularly Somali refugees.  Does the Columbus Police Department have a designated Catholic officer to outreach to the Christian community?

 

Middletown (PA) Patrol Officer Mark Hovan was suspended  for 10 days for attending Catholic Mass at the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church during his patrol shift.  Yet, would the Middletown Police Chief have an issue if muslim officers when to prayers at a mosque?

The photo above shows two Los Angeles police officers praying at the Muslim Brotherhood’s Islamic Center of Southern California.

Has the LAPD suspended them and launched an investigation as to why their officers are associating themselves with a jihadi mosque?

Is it unprofessional for police departments to have different standards for Christian officers and muslim officers?

Is it legal for police departments to have different standards for Christian officers and muslim officers?

Muslim Brother/Hamas leader Ahmed Bedier speaks inside the Florida State House at Muslim Capitol Day hosted by Hamas (CAIR)

Texas Hamas leader Mustafa Carroll (far right) at the Texas Capitol Day hosted by Hamas (CAIR)

Muslim Capitol Day occurs all over the United States every year, and local/state police protect the participants despite the fact the events are hosted by Hamas doing business as CAIR and advance the jihadi agenda of Civilization Jihad.

What should police officers do when they are given an unlawful order to support a designated terrorist organization and it’s events?

Being the leader of Hamas in Arizona (dba CAIR) did not prevent Mohamed El-Sharkawy from being employed with American Airlines and training employees at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport.  As a matter of fact American Airlines gave El-Sharkawy an award and defended him when UTT questioned them about employing a Hamas leader.

Nor did his terrorist affiliation prevent El-Sharkawy from founding and serving on the Arizona Police Muslim Advisory Board.  In fact, El-Sharkawy currently serves as a board member on Hamas’ (CAIR-Arizona) Board of Advisors.

Do police departments in Tempe, Arizona and elsewhere have Christian Advisory Boards?

Citizens where are you?  Why are you putting up with these double standards?

1. Evidence in the US v HLF trial reveals CAIR is Hamas.

2. Two weeks ago the seditious and terrorist-supporting Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) gave its marching orders to the terrorists from Antifa to threaten venues which resulted in those venues canceling programs involving Understanding the Threat (UTT).

3. When UTT conducts it’s 3-day “Understanding and Investigating the Jihadi Network” program for police, the unanimous response from attendees , including FBI counter-terrorism agents, is shock because they admit they were not aware of the information presented.  Yet, they also state the information UTT presents is “critical” to protecting their communities.

Local police sometimes act in inappropriate and unlawful/unconstitutional ways in these matters because they do not understand this threat nor are they trained on how to respond.

The FBI has not informed them.

No police chief wants to deal with a riot or threats of violence.  The easy route is often to support the shutting down of events instead of dealing with the consequences of the event.  However, police chiefs, sheriffs and the men and women in those departments swear an Oath to protect and defend against “all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

This is where we fight this war – by standing firm, even when it is very difficult.  But this means citizens must encourage and stand with the police when these tough decisions come down the line.

Citizens – don’t stand around and watch!

Question your local officials why they allow local facilities and state houses to be used to advance the jihad by designated terrorists (Hamas/CAIR) and known subversive groups, and tolerate a double standard when it comes to the muslim community, even among police.

Citizens get involved – Tell your local police leaders you want those sworn to protect you to be trained about this threat and support them when they have to deal with the heat from sedition/Marxist organizations and their jihadi task-masters like Hamas doing business as CAIR.

Why is the State Dept Undermining President Trump’s Egypt Policy?

Front Page Magazine, by Daniel Greenfield, Aug. 23, 2017:

President Trump has been very clear that he wants to pivot away from Obama’s backing for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. And the Arab Spring’s whole democratization program.

Senator McCain has been equally clear that he wants to double down on it.

Guess whom the State Department is listening to?

Egypt passed a law restricting foreign funding of NGOs. Egypt joins a number of countries, including Hungary, Poland and Israel, that are working to curb the influence of the Leftist/Islamist network which operates internationally through non-profit NGOs. Each such effort has led to hysteria and angry threats from the political figures associated with those networks.

Now the State Department is taking action against Egypt over the NGO law.

Officials said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had decided to withhold $65.7 million in military assistance and $30 million in economic aid to Egypt that has been on hold since fiscal 2014, the officials said. That money will be reprogrammed, meaning it will now be sent to other countries, they said.

At the same time, the officials said Rex Tillerson had signed a waiver saying that $195 million in military assistance to Egypt is in the U.S. national interest but had decided to hold off on spending it. Under federal law, Tillerson had until the end of this fiscal year, Sept. 30, to either sign the waiver, certify that Egypt is meeting the human rights conditions or return the money to the Treasury. The waiver gives Egypt additional time to meet the requirements for the $195 million, which Congress appropriated for fiscal year 2016.

When Trump met with el-Sissi in the White House in April he made no mention of Egypt’s human rights record in the post-meeting statement, an omission that many took as a sign that the issue was not a priority for the administration. Yet, two months later, two senators from Trump’s Republican Party slammed as “draconian” the law that effectively bans the work of non-governmental organizations and urged that it be repealed.

Can you guess who those 2 senators are?

Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham called it “draconian legislation” and they said the US Congress should in response “strengthen democratic benchmarks and human rights conditions on the US assistance to Egypt.”

US Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, and nine other senators sent Trump a letter on June 19 urging the president to press Sisi on the issue.

Unless I missed something, President John McCain is not in the White House. So why is Tillerson listening to him instead of to Trump?

According to Egyptian officials, this is an effort to stem funding to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Alaa Abed, chairman of the Free Egyptian Party’s parliamentary bloc, told The Daily Caller in a recent interview that although the idea behind NGOs is charitable and very needed in his country, a good number of them have taken a wrong turn.

“And the proof of that are the billions that have been given to these NGOs without any noticeable results that you can see,” Abed said.

According to Abed, about 48,000 NGOs are in Egypt and some are supported by the state. Of that number, though, “Only 500 receive foreign funds and 10 operate within the norms of the law…the rest (490) take the money into their pockets and 30 or 40 use the money to transfer to the [Muslim Brotherhood] or small terror cells.”

It obviously also starves some leftist NGOs of funds.

Why is McCain so agitated over it? The media won’t tell you. Few sources will.

But McCain chairs the International Republican Institute. The IRI was a Reagan idea to fight Communism. It’s since gone way off course and was involved in the Arab Spring. Sam LaHood was at the center of it. The international advisory board includes Mo Ibrahim whose daughter is a board member of the Clinton Foundation.

The question here is who is running the country. Whom did American vote for?

It was Trump who was running against nation building. Particularly of the ugly kind we’re seeing here. But Tillerson is obeying President McCain instead of President Trump. Our foreign policy is still being made by the same old people. That’s why the Iran deal is in place (and has not been made public), it’s why Israel is still being pressured to make concessions to terrorists and there’s yet more pressure on Egypt’s President Sisi to open the door to the same folks who brought you the Arab Spring.

It’s why Tillerson backed the Muslim Brotherhood’s backers in Qatar while Trump initially backed pressure on the terror state.

T o change the outcome, you have to change the policy. To change the policy, you have to change the people. Under McMaster and Tillerson, the foreign policy will be set by President McCain, not President Trump.

***

Also see:

In Egypt, Clashes Between The Institution Of The Presidency And The Institution Of Al-Azhar

MEMRI, By: C. Meital, Aug. 21, 2017:

Introduction

Egypt’s Al-Azhar University, the most important institute of learning in the Sunni Muslim world, and its head, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Tayeb, are currently facing a political and media attack led by the institute of the Egyptian presidency, headed by President ‘Abd Al-Fatah Al-Sisi. This is the latest episode in the past two years of ongoing tension between the two institutions, over Al-Azhar’s apparent refusal to comply with the president’s dictates in matters of religion.

One aspect of the attack on Al-Azhar is President Al-Sisi’s direct criticism of Al-Azhar Sheikh Al-Tayeb; another is criticism of Al-Azhar in the government press; and yet another is parliamentary moves led by Al-Sisi’s associates aimed at limiting the authorities of the Al-Azhar sheikh. There have also been calls for Sheikh Al-Tayeb himself to step down.

The main criticism against Al-Azhar is that the institution has failed to join the ideological war on terrorism that is led by President Al-Sisi. Critics say that Al-Azhar is not complying with Al-Sisi’s major goal, announced in 2014 and frequently reiterated by him, to promote a renewal of the religious discourse in Egypt, and also point out that it is refusing to level the accusation  of heresy against the Islamic State (ISIS), which has claimed responsibility for several terror attacks in the country.[1] It is also being said that Al-Azhar’s curricula encourage young people to turn to terrorism. In addition, there is criticism of Al-Azhar’s refusal to change how divorces are handled, as Al-Sisi has also demanded.

Al-Azhar representatives, headed by Sheikh Al-Tayeb, have rejected these criticisms, calling them deliberate lies that damage Islam. To show that it is indeed fulfilling its role and that it is a moderate Islamic institution, Al-Azhar has in recent months held international conventions on the subject of fighting extremism, as well as meetings with young people, and has waged anti-extremism and anti-terrorism campaigns.[2]

It should be noted that despite the harsh criticism of Al-Azhar, and of Sheikh Al-Tayeb, it still has the public’s sympathy, and significant support from many members of parliament.

This report will focus on the tension between the Egyptian presidency and Al-Azhar, as reflected in statements by the leaders of both institutions, in parliamentary activity against it,  and in articles in the Egyptian press.

Al-Azhar Institute (image: balkans.aljazeera.ne)

Tension Between President Al-Sisi And Al-Azhar Sheikh Al-Tayeb

As stated, in recent months it has become evident that there is considerable tension between President Al-Sisi and Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmad Al-Tayeb, as reflected in the president’s criticism of the sheikh both in public and in closed meetings. Currently, the main criticism against Al-Azhar is that it is not making sufficient efforts to advance the renewal of religious discourse in Egypt, as Al-Sisi has demanded. 

President Al-Sisi Repeatedly Reprimands Al-Azhar Sheikh – And Reportedly Threatens To Replace Him There have been several Egyptian newspaper reports concerning President’s Al-Sisi’s displeasure with Al-Azhar’s lack of action on this issue; he has made this clear in individual meetings with Sheikh Al-Tayeb and at public events.

At January 1, 2015 festivities marking the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad at the Egyptian Ministry of Endowments, Al-Sisi said to Sheikh Al-Tayeb: “The preachers are responsible to Allah for the renewal of the religious discourse and for improving the image of Islam. [On Judgment Day,] I will argue against you before Allah [if you do not do this].”[3]

Following a November 30, 2016 meeting between the two, the independent Egyptian daily Al-Misriyyoun reported on their chilly relationship and noted that the president was furious at Al-Azhar’s failure to vehemently attack political Islam organizations, specifically ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and for its continuing aggressive anti-Shi’ite position.[4]

There are, however, only a few such reports; for the most part, Al-Sisi is careful to express respect for Al-Azhar while at the same time clarifying his position vis-à-vis how it functions. Thus, he told the editors of government newspapers in a May 2017 interview: “Our general line is to protect the institutions of the Egyptian state, to urge them to fulfill their roles, and to develop them in a way that will suit the challenges and dangers that we face. Al-Azhar has a monumental status both inside and outside Egypt, and that is why we insist that it fulfill its role, because both the region and the world need it to do so.”[5]

At a June 21, 2017 event marking Laylat Al-Qadr, the night when, according to Muslim tradition, the Quran was first revealed to Muhammad, Al-Sisi praised Al-Azhar as a source of pride and for the position it has held for over a millennium. He went on to reiterate the need for a renewal of the religious discourse, calling it “a matter of life and death for the people and the ummah.”[6]

On July 26, 2017, four months after the April 8, 2017 Palm Sunday attacks on Mar Girgis church in Tanta and St. Marks Cathedral in Alexandria, Al-Sisi confirmed his decision to establish a Supreme Council for the Fight Against Extremism and Terrorism,” to be headed by him, and whose members would include the parliamentary speaker, the prime minister, the Al-Azhar sheikh, the Coptic Patriarch, various government ministers, the head of Egypt’s general intelligence service, the head of the Administrative Supervisory Authority, and public figures such as former Egyptian mufti Ali Goma’a.[7] However, even though the Al-Azhar sheikh is on the council, Egyptian media members who are close to the regime interpreted the establishment of the council as a blow to Al-Azhar’s authority; some even called it proof of Al-Azhar’s “demise.” The establishment of this council, they said, meant that the institution of the presidency had decided that it itself would act on the matter of renewing the religious discourse, instead of waiting for the Ministry of Endowments or for Al-Azhar to do so.[8]

Another serious dispute between Al-Sisi and Sheikh Al-Tayeb erupted over the issue of talaq ­– that is, a Muslim husband’s power to divorce his wife on the spot by merely telling her three times “I divorce you.” Al-Sisi again reprimanded Al-Tayeb in public. During a January 24, 2017 speech marking Police Day, he addressed him directly, saying: “You’ve tired me out, my friend.”[9] Al-Sisi went on to call for an end to this divorce practice, which is common in Egypt, and for divorce to be documented legally in order to reduce the rate of talaq divorces in the country.[10] In response, MP ‘Amr Hamroush hastened to prepare a bill regulating divorce.[11]

This demand by President Al-Sisi, which also garnered support from the Egyptian media, was perceived by the Al-Azhar institute as an affront to Islam, an attempt to secularize Egypt, and an attempt to circumvent the authority of the institute. In an announcement, Al-Azhar’s Council of Senior Scholars clarified that “by virtue of Al-Azhar’s religious responsibility and its status in the Egyptian ummah, as determined by the constitution of Egypt,” it had in recent months convened to discuss current social issues, among them the issue of divorce in a religious context, and that it had decided that talaq is permitted. In this way, the council made it clear that Al-Azhar does indeed have decision-making authority in matters of Islamic law.[12]

Al-Azhar cleric Dr. Yahya Ismail said: “The war against Islam and its rulings is an old war. There is an ongoing, focused campaign to secularize Egypt…” He added: “This is a conspiracy against Islam and its guidelines… The rulings and conditions regarding divorce are known… The game of [legally] documenting divorce is an old one, and it is Christian clerics who were behind it [and who] tried to persuade some of [Egypt’s] presidents in this matter…” Al-Azhar lecturer Ahmed Karima also criticized Al-Sisi’s demand, saying: “Who will successfully eradicate this [talaq]? Only Allah or His Messenger… “[13]

Following the media uproar over the divorce issue, there was an attempt to calm the waters by both sides, and to show that things had returned to normal. On February 26, 2017, Al-Sisi stressed, in a meeting with Sheikh Al-Tayeb, that Al-Azhar is like a lighthouse for moderate Islamic ideology.[14] Al-Tayeb advisor Muhammad ‘Abd Al-Salam also denied that there was any disagreement between the two institutions of Al-Azhar and the presidency.[15]

Measures Against Al-Azhar: A Bill To Limit Al-Azhar Sheikh’s Authority And Establishment Of A Committee To Examine Al-Azhar Curricula

One manifestation of the anger at Al-Azhar was recent parliamentary measures against it and its sheikh aimed at limiting his authority and independence. Recently, MP Muhammad Abu Hamed, known to support Al-Sisi, proposed a change to the 1961 Al-Azhar Law regulating the authority of both the institute and its head. This bill was supported by parliamentary speaker Ali ‘Abd Al-A’al, who argued that the bill did not harm Al-Azhar.[16]

The main points of the amendment bill proposed by Abu Hamed make it clear that it is aimed at limiting the Al-Azhar sheikh’s authority and at increasing governmental control of the institute itself. For example, Section 2 of Abu Hamad’s bill states that the Al-Azhar sheikh is the Grand Imam of all Muslim clerics and that he represents the institute, but also states that his term is six years and that he can be reelected only once. The 1961 law did not mention the length of the sheikh’s term. Also according to the bill, the candidates for the position of sheikh are to be selected not just by Al-Azhar’s Council of Senior Scholars, as has been the case to date, but jointly by the council and Al-Azhar’s Academy of Islamic Research. Further, according to Section 5 of the  bill, if two-thirds of the members of Al-Azhar’s Council of Senior Scholars feel that the sheikh is not fulfilling his role appropriately, he is to be sent before an investigative committee comprising seven of this council’s leading members. This committee has the power to warn him, reprimand him, or “revoke his authority.” The original 1961 law included nothing regarding internal oversight of the Al-Azhar sheikh.[17]

Section 8 of the bill authorizes the president to appoint the imam and preacher of Al-Azhar’s mosque, from among three candidates that are to be put forward by Al-Azhar’s Council of Senior Scholars.[18] Also, Al-Azhar’s Council of Senior Scholars is to determine the content of the Friday sermons delivered at Al-Azhar mosque, and set regulations for religious, social, and cultural activities at the mosque.

It should be noted that an addition to the general definition of Al-Azhar’s role focuses on the importance of its role in developing religious discourse in a manner highlighting humane principles and unifying the Muslim ummah, and undermining the sources of the extremist discourse that crudely interprets Islam.[19]

Abu Hamed said of the bill that in today’s circumstances it is inconceivable that the Al-Azhar sheikh cannot be fired, and emphasized that three senior members of Al-Azhar’s Council of Senior Scholars are MB members.[20]

A further parliamentary step taken against the Al-Azhar institute relates to its educational curriculum. The chairman of the Religious Affairs Committee in the parliament, Osama Al-‘Abd, said that the committee has established a working group to examine the curriculum at the institute as part of a process to renew religious discourse in Egypt.[21]

Despite Abu Hamed’s bill and the examination of the curriculum, it is evident that there is much support in parliament for Sheikh Al-TayebAbu Hamed’s bill was criticized by several MPs who said that they had been unaware the law harmed the status of the Al-Azhar sheikh and asked that their signatures be removed from the bill. Further, MP Osama Sharshar wrote a memorandum to the parliamentary speaker that was signed by the majority of the 406 MPs demanding that the bill be opposed and not submitted because it was clearly aimed at harming one of the institutions of Egyptian society. Al-Azhar is a red line, he said, much like the military, and firing the Al-Azhar sheikh is practically heresy.[22]

For his part, Abu Hamed rejected the MPs’ request that their signatures be removed, and said that he would try to enlist the support of additional MPs and re-submit the bill during the next parliamentary session.[23] In this context, parliamentary sources revealed to the Egyptian daily Al-Shurouq that top-echelon officials had ordered that the bill be shelved.[24] Nevertheless, on several additional occasions Abu Hamed stressed that he intended to submit the bill, and that he had the signatures of 80 MPs who support it.[25]

On May 9, a delegation of MPs met with Sheikh Al-Tayeb, who thanked them for their opposition to those aiming to harm Al-Azhar and warned that any affront to it was a blow to Egypt’s position as defender of Islam and its moderateness.[26]

Allegations In Media That Al-Azhar Is Not Acting Against Terrorism; Calls For Sheikh Al-Tayeb To Resign

Read more

Is Al-Azhar University a Global Security Threat?

American Thinker, By Cynthia Farahat, Aug. 23, 2017:

Al-Azhar University, the world’s largest Sunni Islamic educational institution, is where many of the world’s most brutal terrorists received their formal religious training. This is to be expected, given the nature of the material taught there. Al-Azhar has thousands of affiliated mosques, schools, learning centers, and universities around the world, such as the Islamic American University in Michigan. The institution has also been unofficially controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood for decades.

Al-Azhar Mosque

According to the most recent data released by the Egyptian government, there were 297,000 students studying at al-Azhar University in 2013 and 2014. In 2015, there were 39,000 foreign students studying at al-Azhar. These students are taught the theological legitimacy of cannibalizing infidels, gruesome ways totorture non-Muslims to death, and the importance of raping and humiliating non-Muslim women.  This explains why numerous Egyptian public figures and intellectuals have called for a terrorism investigation of al-Azhar University. For example, Egyptian historian, Sayyid Al-Qemany, called upon the Egyptian government to designate al-Azhar University as terrorist organization.

In 2015, El-Youm el-Sabi, an Egyptian newspaper, published an investigative report about the curriculum at al-Azhar University. According to the report, one of the books called, al-Iqn’a fi Hal Alfaz ibn Abi Shoga’a (Convincing arguments according to Abi Shoga’a), taught to al-Azhar’s high school students states, “Any Muslim, can kill an apostate and eat him, as well kill infidel warriors even if they are young or female and they can also be eaten, because they are not granted any protection.”  On the treatment of non-Muslims, the report quotes the same book as saying, “to preserve one’s self from the evil of an infidel, any Muslim can gouge their eyes out, or mutilate their hands and legs, or sever one arm and one leg.”

Even Muslims aren’t safe from al-Azhar’s teachings. According to the same the report, another book states, “Any Muslim is allowed to kill a fornicator, a warrior, or a [Muslim] who misses prayer, even without permission of the [ruling] Imam.”

This is expected given the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood dominates the organization. Not only does the Muslim Brotherhood use the university to recruit hundreds of thousands of students to adopt ISIS-style beliefs, the Brotherhood used the organization to train young people for combat. For example, In 2006, avideo leaked from inside al-Azhar showed 50 masked young members of the Brotherhood in black uniforms, performing a military exercises in front of the head of al-Azhar University, resulting in a government investigation and arrests in what later became known as, “the case of al-Azhar militia.”

Thus, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many of the world’s most brutal Islamists either worked for al-Azhar, or graduated it from it. For example, Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, is a graduate from al-Azhar.

Also, the first leader of al-Qaeda Abdulla Azzam (1941 –1989), studied at al-Azhar. The spiritual mentor for Osama Bin Laden (1957 –2011), and a leader of the international arm of al-Qaeda, Omar Abdel Rahman (1938 – 2017), known as “the Blind Sheikh,” was a scholar at al-Azhar.  The Nazi Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin el-Husseini (1897-1974), studied at al-Azhar University. As well as, Abu Osama al-Masri the mastermind of the Russian plane crash over Sinai in 2015

Not only is al-Azhar involved in the spreading of the violent Sunni Wahhabi sect, the government funded institution uses Egyptian blasphemy law to imprison critics of its radical teachings, halting any hope for Islamic reformation. For example, the President of al-Azhar University recently declare that Muslim scholar Islam el-Behery, who was previously imprisoned in Egypt for blasphemy, “an apostate of Islam.” According to the al-Azhar’s Sunni theology, apostasy is punishable by death.

Al-Azhar is also responsible for the apostasy Fatwa that resulted in the murder of Egyptian secular figure Farag Fouda (1945-1992). After uproar in Egypt against the University for essentially placing a hit on Mr. Behery by calling him an apostate of Islam, it’s president was forced to resign, but the militant teachings remain untouched.

Al-Azhar was also responsible for the imprisonment of another very popular Muslim scholar, Sheikh Mohammed Abdallah Nasr, for adopting a non-theocratic modern interpretation of Islam, landing him an unprecedented 13-year prison sentence for blasphemy with hard labor. Incredibly, one of the formal charges in al-Azhar’s court case against Mr. Nasr, is that he criticized Khalid ibn el-Waleed (585 –642), a Muslim warrior and sacred Sunni figure for being a rapist and a cannibal. During a televised debate with radical al-Azhar University scholars, Mr. Nasr scrutinized el-Waleed, for decapitating a Muslim poet, Malik ibn Nuwayrah, cooking his head and eating from it, before raping Nuwayrah’s wife. Mr. Nasr’s criticism of the Muslim warrior and cannibal was among the official reasons for his conviction. Speaking to al-Azhar scholars Mr. Nasr said, “you wonder where terrorism is coming from? It’s from your religious heritage.”

Last month, China demanded from Egypt that it deport its students studying at al-Azhar.  While neither Egypt nor China gave a reason for the unusual procedure, the obvious reason could be that China is proactively attempting to protect itself from possible terrorist recruitment at the al-Azhar. Al-Azhar University is a global security threat. The western governments and their Egyptian counterpart should investigate al-Azhar University and its affiliated institutions for possible ties to terrorism. If President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is serious about combating Islamic militancy, his government must immediately halt its funding of the university, and stop al-Azhar’s daily terror indoctrination of future potential Rahmans, Azzams and Shekaus.

Cynthia Farahat is an author and Fellow at the Middle East Forum

Arab allies of US welcome push against Muslim Brotherhood

Fox News, by Ben Evansky, Aug. 8, 2017:

Arab allies of the U.S. are expressing support if the Trump administration declares the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, according to statements from foreign officials and a senior administration official who spoke to Fox News.

Speaking last week at the United Nations in response to a question from Fox News, the Egyptian Ambassador to the U.N., Amr Abdellatif Aboulatta, expressed support for such a move.

“It would be a positive step forward indeed,” he said.

Salman Al-Ansari, president of the Saudi American Public Affairs Committee, told Fox News that the West is suffering from “laziness and must do its homework.”

“The U.S. needs to confront the evils of the Brotherhood as soon as possible,” he said. “If you have Saudi Arabia saying the Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist group, if you have Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) saying it’s a terrorist group, then what should stop the U.S. from designating the MB as a terrorist group as long there are hundreds of pieces of evidence that prove this fact?”

The Brotherhood is banned as a terrorist organization in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt.

Fox News previously reported on the internal debates and deliberations in the Trump White House on the move to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO.)

“The fight is far from over,” a senior administration official told Fox News.

“The commitment inside the West Wing to the question of designating the Brotherhood has not waned,” the official told Fox News.

“The White House completely understands how the modern global jihadi threat, which the president has rightly described as radical Islamic terrorism, can be driven back at its roots to the Brotherhood.”

“This president is unprepared to follow the disastrous policies of prior administrations, especially the Obama White House’s empowering of the Brotherhood that led to the catastrophic consequences of the so-called Arab Spring and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people from the Sinai to Sinjar,” the official concluded.

Christopher Holton of the Center for Security Policy, a group that has been at the forefront of efforts to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization, told Fox News, “It is an absolutely essential step. As the Egyptian ambassador well knows, the goals of the Muslim Brotherhood are identical to those of all the jihadist organizations, such as ISIS, Al Qaeda and Hamas: the establishment of an Islamic state ruled by Sharia.”

Holton blamed what he called “The Swamp in the State Department” for stopping the designation so far. He blamed some members of the Trump administration, including National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.

“Combined with all the other distractions that have largely paralyzed so many initiatives on Capitol Hill, the effort to block the designation has thus far succeeded,” he said.

Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Fox News that during the early weeks of the Trump presidency a large number of analysts warned that the move was, “ill-advised,” arguing that the move “would alienate the Muslim world and encumber diplomacy.”

Schanzer, a former terrorism finance official at the Treasury Department, said he does not believe the administration has given up on designation of the Brotherhood but he suggested it would be easier to target certain Brotherhood groups through the U.S. Treasury’s targeted sanctions program.

“The way forward is not to pursue the FTO approach at the State Department, primarily because the initiative is likely to fail,” Schanzer said. “The State Department will remain opposed…the Muslim Brotherhood is not a homogeneous organization, rather, it is made up of disparate affiliates, some of which could likely be classified as terror groups, and some not.”

“The right move is to pursue these designations in the less-politicized Treasury process in a way that is incremental and pragmatic. From there, additional affiliates can be added,” Schanzer said.

David Reaboi, the senior vice-president for strategic operations at the Security Studies Group, added, “Designating the Muslim Brotherhood would be a tremendous step in the right direction. The Muslim Brotherhood has been identified, rightly, as a threat by the countries that know it best — like Egypt, UAE, Saudi Arabia — among others.”

“These countries understand that the MB isn’t just another political or religious movement,” Reaboi added. “It’s the main engine driving the terror radicalization process. Any effort to combat Islamist terrorism needs to take the MB’s global network into account.”

Ben Evansky reports for Fox News on the United Nations and international affairs. He can be followed @BenEvansky

Trouble among America’s Gulf Allies

Gatestone Institute, by John R. Bolton, July 11, 2017:

  • The State Department should declare both the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs), thus triggering the penalties and sanctions required by law when such a declaration is made.
  • Those “affiliates” of the Muslim Brotherhood that, in whole or part, meet the statutory FTO definition should be designated; those that do not can be spared, at least in the absence of new information.
  • Qatar can legitimately complain that it is being unfairly singled out. The proper response is not to let Qatar off the hook but to put every other country whose governments or citizens are financing terrorism on the hook.

In recent weeks, governments on the Arabian Peninsula have been having a diplomatic brawl. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain (together with Egypt and other Muslim countries) have put considerable economic and political pressure on Qatar, suspending diplomatic relations and embargoing trade with their fellow Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member. Kuwait and Oman, also GCC members, have been mediating the dispute or remaining publicly silent.

The Saudis and their supporters are demanding sweeping changes in Qatari policies, including suspending all financial support to the Muslim Brotherhood and other terrorist groups; joining the other GCC members in taking a much harder line against the nuclear and terrorist threat from Shia Iran and its proxies; and closing Al Jazeera, the irritating, radical-supporting television and media empire funded by Qatar’s royal family.

The United States’ response so far has been confused. President Trump has vocally supported the Saudi campaign, but the State Department has publicly taken a different view, urging that GCC members resolve their differences quietly.

As with so many Middle East disputes, the issues are complex, and there is considerable underlying history. Of course, if they were easy, Saudi Arabia and Qatar would not be nearly at daggers drawn seemingly overnight.

Washington has palpable interests at stake in this dispute and can make several critical moves to help restore unity among the Arabian governments, even though the issues may seem as exotic to the average American as the Saudi sword dance Trump joined during his recent Middle East trip.

Twin issues to confront

Confronting the twin issues of radical Islamic terrorism and the ayatollahs’ malign regime in Iraq are central not only to the Arab disputants but to the United States as well. In addition to providing our good offices to the GCC members, the Trump administration should take two critical steps to restore unity and stability among these key allies.

First, the State Department should declare both the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs), thus triggering the penalties and sanctions required by law when such a declaration is made. Both groups meet the statutory definition because of their violence and continuing threats against Americans. The Obama administration’s failure to make the FTO designation has weakened our global anti-terrorist efforts.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s defenders argue that it is far from monolithic; that many of its “affiliates” are in fact entirely harmless; and that a blanket declaration would actually harm our anti-jihadi efforts. Even taking these objections as true for the sake of argument, they counsel a careful delineation among elements of the Brotherhood. Those that, in whole or part, meet the statutory FTO definition should be designated; those that do not can be spared, at least in the absence of new information. The Brotherhood’s alleged complexity is an argument for being precise in the FTO designations, not for avoiding any designations whatever.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other Arab governments already target the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization but Qatar does not. That may sound suspicious, but as of now, of course, the United States hasn’t found the resolve to do it either. Once Washington acts, however, it will be much harder for Qatar or anyone else to argue that the Brotherhood is just a collection of charitable souls performing humanitarian missions.

A direct terrorist threat

Similarly, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps is a direct terrorist threat that has been killing Americans ever since the IRGC-directed attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, in October 1983. The only real argument against naming the IRGC is that so doing would endanger Obama’s 2015 nuclear agreement, given Tehran’s expected response to an FTO determination.

Second, Trump should follow up his successful Riyadh summit by insisting on rapid and comprehensive implementation of the summit’s principal outcome, the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology (GCCEI). This center can provide governments across the Muslim world a face-saving mechanism to do what should have been done long ago, namely taking individual and collective steps to dry up terrorist financing.

U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump join King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, and the President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, in the inaugural opening of the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology, May 21, 2017. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

One could write books on the intricate financing that supports international terrorism, and finger-pointing at those responsible could take years. But whether terrorists are financed by governments, directly or indirectly, or by individuals or groups, with or without government knowledge or encouragement, it must all stop. Qatar can legitimately complain that it is being unfairly singled out. The proper response is not to let Qatar off the hook but to put every other country whose governments or citizens are financing terrorism on the hook.

Although superficially the ongoing crisis among the oil-producing monarchies may seem a setback to American efforts in the war again terrorism and the struggle to eliminate the Iranian threat, in fact it provides a rare opportunity to make considerable progress on two of our top priorities. The Trump administration should not miss its chance.

John R. Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, is Chairman of Gatestone Institute, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and author of “Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad”.

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