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Turkish Religious Body Presents Award to Yusuf Islam, the Former Singer Cat Stevens Has Supported the Global Muslim Brotherhood

March 23rd, 2022 14:48

Turk­ish media is report­ing that Turkey’s main reli­gious body has pre­sent­ed Yusuf Islam and anoth­er Glob­al Mus­lim Broth­er­hood fig­ure with its annu­al Inter­na­tion­al Benev­o­lence awards. Accord­ing to the Dai­ly Sabah report:

March 15, 2022: After a two-year delay due to the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic, the sixth edi­tion of the Inter­na­tion­al Benev­o­lence Awards was final­ly held on Tues­day. The event host­ed at the Pres­i­den­tial Com­plex in the cap­i­tal Ankara was orga­nized by the Pres­i­den­cy of Reli­gious Affairs (Diyanet) and its Diyanet Foun­da­tion (TDV). Pres­i­dent Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and oth­er dig­ni­taries were among those attend­ing the cer­e­mo­ny. Among the recip­i­ents of the awards was Yusuf Islam, a pop­u­lar British singer for­mer­ly known as Cat Stevens, Sir­aj Wah­haj, a Mus­lim con­vert like Cat Stevens, for­mer Turk­ish mod­el and actress Gamze Özçe­lik, an 88-year-old crafts­man work­ing at mosques and an imam.

Read the rest here.

The Dai­ly Sabah report describes Wah­haj and the rea­sons for his award:

Sir­aj Wah­haj, born Jef­frey Kearse in New York, Unit­ed States, received the award for con­vey­ing Islam­ic knowl­edge to peo­ple through a masjid (small mosque) he con­vert­ed from a depart­ment store in Brook­lyn. Wah­haj, a for­mer mem­ber of the Nation of Islam, became a Sun­ni Mus­lim in the 1970s and found­ed Masjid at-Taqwa in the 1980s. Since then, he devot­ed him­self to teach­ing Islam and fight­ing drug-relat­ed crimes in his neigh­bor­hood, which drew praise from the com­mu­ni­ty and author­i­ties. “Wah­haj, like his name, spreads the light of Islam,” a state­ment by the awards com­mit­tee said, refer­ring to the mean­ing of his Ara­bic name, “bright light.”

Sir­aj Wah­haj is an unin­dict­ed co-con­spir­a­tor in the 1993 World Trade Cen­ter bomb­ing and Pres­i­dent of the Mus­lim Alliance of North Amer­i­ca, an orga­ni­za­tion tied to the US Mus­lim Broth­er­hood. He has also held var­i­ous posi­tions in the Islam­ic Soci­ety of North Amer­i­ca, the Amer­i­can Mus­lim Coun­cil, the North Amer­i­can Islam­ic Trust, and the  Coun­cil on Amer­i­can Islam­ic Rela­tions (CAIR), also all part of the US Mus­lim Broth­er­hood. Wah­haj has pre­vi­ous­ly praised Erdoğan. As the GIOR  report­ed last year, Wah­haj spoke at a Turk­ish-Amer­i­can Nation­al Steer­ing Com­mit­tee con­fer­ence where he praised Erdoğan, say­ing he believes Erdoğan is the leader of all Mus­lims in the Mus­lim world.

The Dai­ly Sabah report also describes Yusuf Islam (for­mer­ly known as Cat Stevens) and the rea­sons for his award:

Singer-song­writer Yusuf Islam was award­ed for his “Peace Train” project, titled after his 1971 song. The mot­to of the char­i­ty work of Yusuf Islam Foun­da­tion, Peace Train involves food aid to dis­ad­van­taged com­mu­ni­ties around the globe, access to water and con­struc­tion of play­grounds for chil­dren in Africa, among oth­er char­i­ta­ble works. Award orga­niz­ers say Islam touched the hearts of both Mus­lims and non-Mus­lims with his “stance as a gen­uine faith­ful” and “actions.” Islam was also rec­og­nized for his con­tri­bu­tion to Cam­bridge Mosque, Europe’s first eco-friend­ly mosque which is locat­ed in the epony­mous Eng­lish city. Islam who could not attend the cer­e­mo­ny per­son­al­ly sent a video mes­sage and thanked Erdoğan for Turkey’s acts of benev­o­lence and lead­er­ship for Mus­lims across the world.

Although Islam is said to have spo­ken fre­quent­ly against ter­ror­ism, he is close­ly asso­ci­at­ed with a num­ber of orga­ni­za­tions tied to the Glob­al Mus­lim Broth­er­hood and/or sup­port for Hamas, includ­ing:

  • Help­ing to found Mus­lim Aid, a UK char­i­ty that was one of the Union of Good mem­bers and tied to the UK Mus­lim Brotherhood.

In 2009, the Glob­al Mus­lim Broth­er­hood Dai­ly Watch report­ed on the con­tro­ver­sy sur­round­ing Islam:

Yusuf Islam, who changed his name and con­vert­ed to Islam in 1978, last attract­ed sub­stan­tial atten­tion when he was was denied entry to the Unit­ed States on nation­al secu­ri­ty grounds in Sep­tem­ber 2004. After protests from the for­eign office of Great Britain, where Mr. Islam is a cit­i­zen, he lat­er returned to the Unit­ed States to pro­mote his first main­stream pop album in 28 years.

As not­ed at the time, in a Jan­u­ary 2007 inter­view with the New York Times, Islam point­ed­ly refused to con­demn Hamas, imply­ing that the group “did char­i­ty and good to humankind.”

A 2011  report  authored by the GIOR edi­tor con­clud­ed that since 2006, Turkey has become a new cen­ter for the Glob­al Mus­lim Broth­er­hood. That report also detailed Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ide­o­log­i­cal ties to the Glob­al Mus­lim Broth­er­hood net­work, dat­ing back to Erdoğan’s affil­i­a­tion in the 1970s with the World Assem­bly of Mus­lim Youth.

The Direc­torate of Reli­gious Affairs (Turk­ish: Diyanet İşl­eri Başkan­lığı or Diyanet) is a Turk­ish state insti­tu­tion respon­si­ble for man­ag­ing reli­gious affairs. The Diyanet was found­ed in 1924 to monop­o­lize con­trol of Sun­ni Islam in Turkey under the state. The Diyanet drafts a week­ly ser­mon deliv­ered at all of Turkey’s mosques, and their imams are civ­il ser­vants employed by the state.