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Co-Founders Of Austria’s Main Muslim Youth Association Accused Of Being Part Of The Muslim Brotherhood

August 25th, 2021 16:58

In an inter­view with Aus­tri­an media, Islam­ic schol­ar Amir Zei­dan has alleged that the co-founders of Austria’s Mus­lim­is­che Jugend Öster­re­ich (MJÖ), the main Aus­tri­an Mus­lim youth orga­ni­za­tion,  include two mem­bers of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood and that the country’s recent efforts to inves­ti­gate indi­vid­u­als sus­pect­ed of Islamist ties were jus­ti­fied. Accord­ing to an arti­cle by Exxpress.at:

July 22, 2021 Islam­ic schol­ar Amir Zaidan breaks his silence for the first time: He names Mus­lim Broth­ers on the board of the Mus­lim Youth in Aus­tria (MJÖ) […], includ­ing polit­i­cal sci­en­tist Farid Hafez. Zaidan also explains why he con­sid­ers the inves­ti­ga­tions cur­rent­ly under­way against the Islamist Mus­lim Broth­er­hood to be jus­ti­fied. [Trans­lat­ed from German]

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In the inter­view, Zei­dan alleged MJÖ co-founder Farid Hafez, a promi­nent Aus­tri­an Islam­o­pho­bia researcher, togeth­er with ear­ly MJÖ leader Alexan­der Osman, had sworn an oath of alle­giance to the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood. Accord­ing to Zei­dan, Hafez and Osman close­ly worked togeth­er with then MJÖ leader Ammar Shakir in set­ting up the orga­ni­za­tion, describ­ing Shakir as Hafez’s “men­tor.” From 2003 to 2005, the MJÖ was an asso­ciate mem­ber of the Forum of Euro­pean Mus­lim Youth and Stu­dent Orga­ni­za­tions, the youth/student arm of the GMB in Europe.

Amir Zei­dan, of Syr­i­an ori­gin, is a for­mer leader of the Aus­tri­an edu­ca­tion­al insti­tu­tion for Islam­ic reli­gious teach­ers and him­self has mul­ti­ple past GMB ties, includ­ing in 2002 hav­ing head­ed a Mus­lim sci­en­tists asso­ci­a­tion with Ger­man Glob­al Mus­lim Broth­er­hood (GMB) leader Ibrahim El-Zay­at and from 1993 to 1996 hav­ing stud­ied at the Insti­tut Européen des Sci­ences Humaines.

In the inter­view, Zei­dan said he felt threat­ened by mes­sages about him that Hafez had cir­cu­lat­ed for tes­ti­fy­ing before the author­i­ties after a Novem­ber 2020 crack­down by Aus­tri­an police on a large num­ber of Islam­ic orga­ni­za­tions and indi­vid­u­als sus­pect­ed of ties to the GMB and Hamas. The Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) pre­vi­ous­ly report­ed that Hafez was a key sus­pect in police raids tar­get­ing those same groups. In 2021, sev­er­al defen­dants filed suc­cess­ful legal com­plaints about the searches.

Farid Hafez is a senior researcher at the George­town University’s Bridge Ini­tia­tive, head­ed by long-time Mus­lim Broth­er­hood sup­port­er Dr. John Espos­i­to and whose staff have includ­ed mul­ti­ple indi­vid­u­als tied to US Mus­lim Broth­er­hood groups. Hafez also co-edits the annu­al ‘Euro­pean Islam­o­pho­bia Report’ pub­lished by the SETA Foun­da­tion for Polit­i­cal, Eco­nom­ic, and Social Research, a Turk­ish think-tank part of the Turk­ish influ­ence net­work and close­ly linked to Pres­i­dent Erdoğan. Hafez has pub­licly denied any ties to Islamism and the Mus­lim Brotherhood.

In Jan­u­ary 2021, the GIOR report­ed Hafez drew media crit­i­cism over author­ing an arti­cle say­ing the police raids against him under­mined the cred­i­bil­i­ty of Aus­tri­an efforts to com­mem­o­rate the 1938 Reich­skristall­nacht pogroms and stat­ing the coun­try was on a “dan­ger­ous path towards repeat­ing his­to­ry.” Pri­or report­ing by the GIOR about Hafez has also included:

  • A Novem­ber 2020 report that Hafez was among the pan­elists of a vir­tu­al pan­el dis­cus­sion host­ed by SETA that accused France of Islam­o­pho­bia and fea­tured sev­er­al oth­er speak­ers with GMB ties.
  • A Jan­u­ary 2021 report that promi­nent US aca­d­e­mics, includ­ing John Espos­i­to, were part of an orga­ni­za­tion sup­port­ing Hafez.