Fondazione L’Albero della Vita, an Italian NGO, reported in September that as part of its Youth Empowerment Support For Muslim Communities (YES) program, it hosted the first-ever international youth forum against Islamophobia in Rome:
September 2021 Fondazione L’Albero della Vita, Le Reseau, and Progetto Aisha are happy to host the first ever INTERNATIONAL YOUTH FORUM AGAINST ISLAMOPHOBIA. The event will be held in Rome, but online participation will also be available. The event will last three days, from the 24th to the 26th of September 2021. The Forum will be a space and an opportunity for young people to discuss and concretely think how to build a more inclusive and diverse society, free from stereotypes and discrimination. A Youth Manifesto against Islamophobia will also be drawn up and approved, in order to promote young people’s views on this sensitive and topical issue. Italian and Euopean institutions will be present at the event, which will present a diverse panel of speakers and activities, including workshops and debates.
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According to the program, the event not only featured representatives from European and Italian institutions but also several keynote speakers from organizations linked to the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe, including:
- Ahmed Abdel Aziz, board member of the Council of European Muslims (CEM)
- Abdelrahman Rizk, president of the Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organizations (FEMYSO)
- Nourhene Mahmoudi, Campaign and Advocacy officer at FEMYSO
- Yassine Lafram, president of the Italian CEM member Unione delle Comunità Islamiche in Italia
- Ebrahim Ali, described as president of the Italian FEMYSO member Giovani Musulmani d’Italia (GMI)
- Mariam El Hayat, PR officer at GMI
According to its website, the YES program and a similar anti-Islamophobia program called MEET are implemented by nine European partners, including FEMYSO, and funded by the European Union’s Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme. According to the European Commission’s Financial Transparency System, the YES program received €107,855 and the MEET program €443,002 in subsidies between September 2019 — September 2021. FEMYSO received at least €14,398 for its participation in the MEET program, according to the same source.
According to its website, YES “is a project thought to empower Muslim communities and namely young people, to make them aware of their rights.” The MEET project “wants to contribute to the prevention of islamophobia and discrimination against women and girls” and seeks to set up “local observatories on Islamophobia.”
The Council of European Muslims (CEM), previously known as The Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE), describes itself as a “cultural organization, with hundreds of member organizations spread across 28 European States, all subscribing to a common belief in a methodology based on moderation and balance, which represents the tolerance of Islam.” In reality, the CEM is an umbrella group that comprises the Global Muslim Brotherhood in Europe, and its current President is Abdullah Benmansour, a long-time leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in France. The CEM has a headquarters office in Brussels and has had some success in positioning itself as a “dialog partner” for the EU and other important institutions. The CEM has also spawned numerous other organizations, including the European Council for Fatwa and Research and FEMYSO.
The Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organizations (FEMYSO) is the youth/student arm of the CEM and is registered as an NGO in Brussels. FEMYSO has developed relationships with the Council of Europe, the European Commission, and a host of other significant organizations at the European and international levels. One of the important leaders of FEMYSO over the years has been German Muslim Brotherhood leader Ibrahim El-Zayat, and in recent times, its leadership has been drawn from the family of important Global Muslim Brotherhood leaders, including the daughter of Rachid Ghannouchi.