Tens of thousands of Turks are protesting Islamist Prime Minister Erdogan, but the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood is happy to welcome him. On May 18, Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) officials met with Erdogan. Of all the things to talk about, ISNA most emphasized the success of its interfaith political alliances. The lesson will not be forgotten by Turkey as it tries to reclaim its position as the leader of the Muslim world.
According to an ISNA press release, Dr. Mohamed Elsanousi, its Community Outreach Director, briefed Erdogan in San Francisco on ISNA’s activism. As an example of its success, ISNA pointed to an interfaith alliance called the Shoulder-to-Shoulder campaign.
Internal U.S. Muslim Brotherhood documents and the U.S. government agree that ISNA is a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood identity, despite its denials. The importance it places in its interfaith outreach is evident when you look at its Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances, located within the United Methodist Building in Washington D.C. It is led by former Secretary-General Sayyid Syeed who was recorded in 2006 saying, “Our job is to change the constitution of America.”
ISNA also asked for Erdogan’s involvement in an international campaign to help minorities in Muslim countries. This sounds like a “moderate” goal but there’s an Islamist component even here. The international campaign ISNA is talking about is led by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Last year, ISNA President Mohamed Magid and Elsanousi traveled to Mauritania for a conference about the “challenges faced by religious minorities in Muslim-majority communities.” It was hosted by the vice chair of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, whose President is Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yousef al-Qaradawi. Also present was the Obama Administration’s envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Rashad Hussain.
ISNA’s publicized list of “interfaith partners” includes the United Methodist Church, American Baptist Church USA, Presbyterian Church (USA), Episcopal Church, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, United Church of Christ, Jewish Theological Seminary of America, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Union for Reform Judaism, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Hartford Seminary and the National Council of Churches in the USA, among others.
Many of these partners belong to the Shoulder-to-Shoulder campaign that ISNA boasted about to Erdogan. The ISNA-allied interfaith coalition published a letter of protest to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on March 12, 2013, blasting the New York Police Department for showing The Third Jihad.
Although the film’s narrator is a devout Muslim, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, Shoulder-to-Shoulder labeled it as anti-Muslim “bigoted propaganda.” ISNA’s Muslim Brotherhood origins are mentioned in the film. ISNA uses the coalition to discredit its critics as haters of Muslims. One of the coalition’s stated tasks is:
“Urging each faith group to prioritize ending anti-Muslim sentiment by encouraging their regional bodies and congregations to engage in this work, discussing the issue of anti-Muslim bigotry at their annual meetings, and seeking press coverage of their efforts on the issue.”
Erdogan was also in the presence of ISNA on May 15, when he spoke in support of a $100 million mega-mosque project in Maryland launched by his government. ISNA President Mohamed Magid was in attendance. Also present was the leader of the Islamic Circle of North America, a group that is also identified as a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood affiliate in a 1991 memo.
Turkey’s project will probably be the largest Islamic site in the Western Hemisphere and it will consist of Ottoman architecture, another sign that Turkey aims to relive its glory days. At the meeting with ISNA, Erdogan said that the U.N. Security Council must be changed to fit additional Muslim members; a hint at his aspiration for Turkey to join it and therefore have veto power over any decision.
Erdogan also told the Muslim leaders in San Francisco to unite for the sake of promoting democracy. In ISNA’s words, he talked of “the notion of justice as essential to Islamic rule.” Justice must govern all aspects of society, including the economy, culture and politics and Muslims must push for this, he said.
Erdogan’s version of “democracy” and “justice” is why tens of thousands of secular Turks are now demonstrating against him. His confrontational stance towards Israel is designed to make him the unofficial king of the Islamists. Unlike the more hardline Islamists like Al-Qaeda and the Iranian regime, Erdogan’s implementation of the Islamist doctrine of gradualism has allowed him to maintain popular and international support, with President Obama calling him a “friend.”
ISNA (and now, Erdogan) is well-aware of the success of its interfaith outreach. People of faith who oppose the Islamists must also become aware.
This article was sponsored by the Institute on Religion and Democracy.
Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.