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US Academics Supporting Austrian Researcher Raided By Austrian Police

January 29th, 2021 13:41

Accord­ing to its web­site, two promi­nent US aca­d­e­mics are part of an orga­ni­za­tion sup­port­ing Farid Hafez, a promi­nent Aus­tri­an Islam­o­pho­bia researcher who was one of the tar­gets of Aus­tri­an police raids involv­ing a large num­ber of Islam­ic orga­ni­za­tions and indi­vid­u­als sus­pect­ed of ties to ter­ror­ist and crim­i­nal orga­ni­za­tions. Accord­ing to the web­site of the Unter­stützungskomi­tee Farid Hafez (Sup­port Com­mit­tee Farid Hafez):

We, the Sup­port Com­mit­tee for Farid Hafez, are dis­mayed by what has hap­pened in con­nec­tion with the raid on Novem­ber 9, 2020. We know and appre­ci­ate the work of Farid Hafez, a polit­i­cal sci­en­tist with a post-doc­tor­al degree from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Salzburg and a researcher at George­town Uni­ver­si­ty in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., who has dis­tin­guished him­self in par­tic­u­lar in con­nec­tion with research on racism, Islam­o­pho­bia and Mus­lims in Aus­tria, there­by achiev­ing inter­na­tion­al promi­nence. Farid Hafez and his fam­i­ly have not only been sub­ject­ed to a trau­mat­ic expe­ri­ence, Hafez has also been sub­ject­ed to media prej­u­dice that threat­ens to dam­age his aca­d­e­m­ic rep­u­ta­tion in par­tic­u­lar. We also see in the raid an attempt at intim­i­da­tion against a rec­og­nized sci­en­tist who has already twice had the accu­sa­tions now again made against him thrown out by the courts, and both times won the cas­es in the sec­ond instance. Free­dom of sci­ence and free­dom of opin­ion are valu­able assets that must be protected.

Read the rest here.

The Com­mit­tee web­site iden­ti­fies sev­en­teen indi­vid­u­als as Sup­port­ers of Hafez. Two of these indi­vid­u­als are US aca­d­e­mics with a long his­to­ry of sup­port for the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood. Dr. John Espos­i­to is a pro­fes­sor of Inter­na­tion­al Affairs and Islam­ic Stud­ies at George­town Uni­ver­si­ty and found­ing direc­tor of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Cen­ter for Mus­lim-Chris­t­ian Under­stand­ing (CMCU) at George­town. Espos­i­to, a for­mer US State Depart­ment advi­sor,  has espoused views con­sis­tent with Broth­er­hood doc­trine and dur­ing the 1990s was known for his claims that Islam­ic fun­da­men­tal­ism was, in fact, demo­c­ra­t­ic and posed no threat to the US. Dr. Espos­i­to has at least a dozen past or present affil­i­a­tions with glob­al Mus­lim Brotherhood/Hamas orga­ni­za­tions, includ­ing hav­ing served on the advi­so­ry board of the Insti­tute of Islam­ic Polit­i­cal Thought in the UK head­ed by Azzam Tami­mi, a leader in the UK Mus­lim Broth­er­hood and often described as a Hamas spokesman. The IPT board also includ­ed Glob­al Mus­lim Broth­er­hood leader Youssef Qaradawi as well as oth­er indi­vid­u­als tied to the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood. Dr. Espos­i­to has also served with Qaradawi on the Steer­ing Com­mit­tee of the Cir­cle of Tra­di­tion and Progress and enjoyed a close rela­tion­ship with the Unit­ed Asso­ci­a­tion For Stud­ies and Research, part of the US Mus­lim Broth­er­hood’s Pales­tine Com­mit­tee and Hamas sup­port infra­struc­ture. In 2005, Sau­di prince Alaweed bin Talal, a finan­cial sup­port­er of the glob­al Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, donat­ed $20 mil­lion to the CMCU, then head­ed by Dr. Esposito.

The Com­mit­tee web­site also iden­ti­fies Tama­ra Sonn as anoth­er Hafez sup­port­er. Sonn is the Qatari-fund­ed Hamad Bin Khal­i­fa Al-Thani Pro­fes­sor in the His­to­ry of Islam and cur­rent Direc­tor of the CMCU. Both Sonn and Espos­i­to have been impor­tant lead­ers in the Cen­ter for the Study of Islam and Democ­ra­cy (CSID), a lit­tle known orga­ni­za­tion found­ed in 1998 in what appears to have been a coop­er­a­tive effort among the US Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, the US State Depart­ment, and  Espos­i­to. Past CSID board mem­bers includ­ed Jamal Barz­inji and Taha Al-Alwani, both impor­tant lead­ers in the US Mus­lim Broth­er­hood who helped to estab­lish many of the most impor­tant US Broth­er­hood orga­ni­za­tions. Antony Sul­li­van, the cur­rent CSID Vice-Chair, has had many ties to US Broth­er­hood groups, includ­ing the Unit­ed Asso­ci­a­tion for Stud­ies and Research, and the Cir­cle of Tra­di­tion and Progress, both dis­cussed above. From its incep­tion, CSID has argued that the US gov­ern­ment should sup­port Islamist move­ments in for­eign coun­tries, has tak­en posi­tions large­ly con­sis­tent with those of the Glob­al Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, and has enjoyed fre­quent and deep ties with oth­er US Mus­lim Broth­er­hood groups. CSID has received finan­cial sup­port from the US State Depart­ment, the Nation­al Endow­ment for Democ­ra­cy, and the Unit­ed States Insti­tute of Peace, and unpub­lished research sug­gests that the orga­ni­za­tion was involved in covert US fund­ing of the Syr­i­an Mus­lim Brotherhood

Farid Hafez is a found­ing mem­ber of the Mus­lim­is­che Jugend Öster­re­ich, an Aus­tri­an Mus­lim youth orga­ni­za­tion known to have been a mem­ber of the Forum of Euro­pean Mus­lim Youth and Stu­dent Orga­ni­za­tions, the youth/ stu­dent Glob­al Mus­lim Broth­er­hood in Europe. Hafez is also a senior researcher at the George­town University’s Bridge Ini­tia­tive, head­ed by 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 Turk­ish Erdoğan. in Jan­u­ary 2019, Hafez par­tic­i­pat­ed in a high-lev­el con­fer­ence that includ­ed lead­ing fig­ures of the Euro­pean Mus­lim Broth­er­hood and orga­nized by Diyanet, the Turk­ish state insti­tu­tion respon­si­ble for man­ag­ing reli­gious affairs. In Novem­ber, the GIOR report­ed that Hafez was a key sus­pect in Aus­tri­an police raids tar­get­ing a large num­ber of Islam­ic orga­ni­za­tions and indi­vid­u­als sus­pect­ed of ties to the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood and Hamas. Hafez sub­se­quent­ly drew media crit­i­cism over an arti­cle he wrote say­ing the raids under­mined the cred­i­bil­i­ty of Aus­tri­an efforts to com­mem­o­rate the 1938 Reich­skristall­nacht pogroms and stat­ing the coun­try was on a “dan­ger­ous path towards repeat­ing his­to­ry.” Hafez also said the crack­down remind­ed him of China’s sup­pres­sion of Uighur Mus­lims in the Xin­jiang region. Ear­li­er this month, the GIOR report­ed on an inter­view in which Hafez denied any ties to Islamism and the Mus­lim Brotherhood.