Thursday, February 22, 2024

European Islamists Ignore — or Celebrate — Hamas’s October 7 Massacre

ResearchInvestigationsEuropean Islamists Ignore — or Celebrate — Hamas's October 7 Massacre
Editor’s Note: Following is an updated version of Focus on Western Islamism’s October 26 compilation of European Islamist responses to Hamas’s October 7 massacre of Israelis.

Islamists in Europe have overwhelmingly come out in support of Hamas’s October 7 massacre of more than 1,200 Israelis. That support has been expressed in different ways: explicitly approving of Hamas’s murder, rape and abduction of Israeli civilians; justifying the crimes by blaming Israel; and by remaining silent and refusing to condemn Hamas publicly.

Some Islamist groups, especially Muslim umbrella groups that benefit from public funding and are official interlocutors between Muslim communities and European governments, have flatly refused to distance themselves from Hamas and resorted to moral equivalency by staking out equidistant positions between the aggressor and the attacked. Others have spread antisemitic propaganda by attempting to relativize or “contextualize” Hamas’s murderous rampage as a response to Israel’s existence. Still others have issued carefully contrived and often anodyne statements that use linguistic gymnastics to claim they have condemned Hamas when they have not.

Their silence is complicit.

Spanish lawmaker Alberto Tarradas Paneque

Several Islamists have expressed anger that they are being asked to publicly condemn Hamas and the antisemitism that is raging across Europe; they have described such demands as “Islamophobia.” Many have been incapable of condemning antisemitism without also referring to Muslims as victims of racism.

Prominent Islamists, especially in France and Germany, have portrayed themselves before European audiences as sympathetic to Jews and Israel, while sending contrary messages to Muslim audiences in Arabic and Turkish.

Here is a country-by-country roundup of the responses Islamists have offered since Hamas’s October 7 attack. FWI will add to this summary in the weeks ahead.

Austria

Ümit Vural, president of the Islamic Religious Community in Austria (Islamische Glaubensgemeinschaft in Österreich, IGGÖ), the main organization representing Muslims in Austria, initially refused to issue a public statement on Hamas’s attack on Israel. In the face of growing criticism, he belatedly issued a statement on October 9, condemning the terrorist group. He said that “the brutality and violence” perpetrated by Hamas is “absolutely unacceptable” and “should be rejected in the strongest possible terms.” The statement, however, did not once refer to Israel by name or acknowledge its right to exist.

On November 15, IGGÖ denounced “racism against Muslims under the guise of the necessary fight against anti-Semitism” and condemned a “general suspicion against all Muslims living in Austria that accuses them of advocating terror, hatred and anti-Semitism.”

The Islamic Center Vienna (Islamisches Zentrum Wien), one of the largest Sunni mosques in Austria, in a two-page “appeal for peace in the Holy Land,” failed to condemn the atrocities committed by Hamas, nor did it once refer to Israel or its right to exist.

Belgium

The Muslim Council of Belgium (Conseil Musulman de Belgique), the new official representative body for 800,000 Muslims in Belgium, has kept silence about the Hamas massacre, as has its president, 29-year-old Turkish-Kurd Esma Uçan. (The Council was established in June 2023 to replace the Muslim Executive of Belgium (L’Exécutif des musulmans de Belgique, EMB), which was disbanded by the Belgian government after a report by Belgian intelligence exposed the influence of Morocco and Turkey on that group.)

Denmark

The Islamic Society in Denmark (Dansk Islamisk Trossamfund), an Islamist group that was instrumental in inciting worldwide protests during the 2005 Danish Cartoon controversy, called on the estimated 200,000 Muslims in Denmark to protest Israeli military action against Hamas. Muslims in Denmark should “show Denmark that we stand with Palestine against oppression.” In another statement, the group justified the Hamas massacre by blaming “incursions by Israeli security forces, including in the al-Aqsa mosque.” It called on the “international community” to force Israel to “end the violence” and to “strengthen peacekeepers.”

The Muslim Joint Council (Muslimernes Fællesråd, MFR), the largest multi-ethnic Muslim umbrella group, with 40,000 members, justified Hamas’s massacre of Israelis as “the result ongoing harassment, brutality and massacres that the Palestinian people have faced in the past 70 years.” The group referred to Israel as an “apartheid state” and called for “the immediate end of all global political support for Israel and for the Israeli army to stop the ongoing brutal ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.”

Neither the Danish Islamic Council (Dansk Islamisk Råd), a Muslim Brotherhood-linked umbrella organization that represents Sunni Muslims in Denmark, nor the associated Grand Mosque of Copenhagen (Hamad Bin Khalifa Civilization Center), publicly condemned the Hamas massacre of Israelis.

Europe

At the European level, the Brussels-based Council of European Muslims (CEM), an umbrella group that represents the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe, has not condemned Hamas’s massacre, but denounced Israel’s alleged violation of “all humanitarian principles and international conventions.” In a November 18 statement, CEM, formerly known as the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE), condemned the “massacres committed by the Israeli occupation against Palestinian citizens, which may amount to a war crime” and called for an “immediate end to the war.”

On October 25, the European Network Against Racism (ENAR), which is tied to the Muslim Brotherhood, issued a statement condemning the “double standards exhibited by Western leaders, including within the European Union,” for their support of Israel. “We are witnessing differential treatment and inconsistencies in several European states, where measures are being imposed that curtail freedom of expression.” ENAR stressed the “need for a decolonial perspective, acknowledging the historical legacy of European colonialism and the role it played — and continues to play — in shaping the tragedies in the region.”

On October 15, the Brussels-based Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organizations (FEMYSO), an influential Islamist group that is actively opposed to European laws that promote secularism, issued a statement condemning “the alarming rise in Islamophobia in the wake of the escalating conflict in Palestine and Israel.” FEMYSO, which has not condemned Hamas’s massacre of Israelis, complained that “Islamophobia perpetuates a cycle of discrimination and hatred against Muslim communities.”

France

French philosopher Abdennour Bidar lamented the failure of Muslim organizations in France to condemn Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack. (Photo by Claude Truong-Ngoc via Wikimedia Commons)

In France, which has Europe’s largest Muslim population, the French Islam Forum (Forum de l’Islam de France, FORIF), a newly launched Muslim “dialogue forum” established by the French government to fight Islamism and promote an Islam “faithful to the values of the Republic,” has had nothing to say about Hamas’s massacre of Israelis.

The French Council for the Muslim Faith (Conseil français du culte musulman, CFCM), which has been replaced by FORIF as the government’s principal interlocutor with the country’s Muslim community, is an umbrella group controlled by the governments of Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. In an October 10 statement, the CFCM did not mention Hamas by name, but it did condemn the “intolerable attack on human dignity and life.”

The statement suggested that Israel was responsible for the violence against its citizens because of the security measures it imposed on Gaza. It declared that “abuses committed by both sides” must be condemned “with the same force.” The CFCM also complained about global support for the Jewish state. “Palestinian civilians do not benefit from this same solidarity and do not have this same security,” it claimed.

On November 1, the CFCM denounced an alleged “hierarchy between civilian victims” that “attempts to justify [Israeli] crimes committed against [Palestinian] civilians, including children.”

On November 8, the CFCM condemned the “increase in Islamophobic and antisemitic acts and remarks.” It complained of an “uninhibited outpouring of hatred of Muslims on social media and in mass media.” It criticized a nationwide protest against antisemitism “which has the exclusive objective of denouncing antisemitism without a word on Islamophobia” and can be “interpreted by Islamophobes as a sign of impunity.”

On November 12, the CFCM asserted that the “French far right is doing everything it can to import the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into France, so that the Jews of France, its former target, are torn apart with its new target, the Muslims of France.” It added, falsely: “With all due respect to the antisemites of yesterday and today, antisemitism is prohibited by the founding texts of Islam. The antisemites of yesterday and today do not read the Quran.”

On November 16, the CFCM issued a lengthy statement complaining about the “humane media treatment” toward Israeli victims and hostages of Hamas’s October 7 attack, and a “completely different media treatment” experienced by Palestinians. It claimed that Gazans were being “dehumanized” because they are often referred to as “human shields,” a “metaphor that carries a scandalous message.” According to the CFCM, Palestinians “are therefore first defined by an object of war before being human,” and the “dehumanization of a people has always been a prerequisite for the justification of the worst atrocities against them.”

The Union of Mosques in France (Union des Mosquées de France, UMF), which is controlled by the Moroccan government, failed to issue a statement condemning Hamas. On October 19, after public criticism, UMF’s Moroccan-born president, Mohammed Moussaoui, wrote an opinion article for Le Monde in which he condemned “firmly and without reservation the atrocities, some of which amount to terrorism, war crimes and even crimes against humanity, committed against Israeli civilians.” He then blamed Israel and the “dramatic situation of the Palestinians” for the attack.

Moussaoui also claimed that Muslims are the true victims of Hamas’s atrocities. He lashed out at accusations that Muslims in France have refused publicly to support Israel. “French citizens of the Muslim faith have been put in the dock by opportunists of all stripes who harbor unbearable suspicion towards them.” Moussaoui said that “wanting to blame this lack of mobilization only on French Muslims is a clear stigmatization.”

The Union of Islamic Organizations in France, which changed its name to Muslims of France (Musulmans de France, MF), is a prominent Muslim umbrella organization closely tied to the Muslim Brotherhood. It has issued several statements about the “situation” in the Middle East, but none mention Hamas by name. MF warns that Palestinian violence will not end until they have their own state.

In one statement, MF, which represents more than 280 mosques in France, claimed that the conflict in Gaza has nothing to do with Islam. “We refuse a religious reading of this political conflict,” it said. In another statement, it repeated that “we insist that the Israel-Palestinian conflict is not religious in nature.” In fact, the Hamas Charter, which calls for the complete annihilation of Israel, is based on the Islamic doctrine of jihad and the concept that once land is Muslim, that land is always Muslim.

On November 13, MF President Mohsen Ngazou joined anti-Israel protests in Paris and demanded a ceasefire in Gaza. On November 11, MF, using the antisemitism-Islamophobia equivalence tactic, denounced “Islamophobic speeches and the constant stigma of Muslims by some media and politicians.” On November 8, MF, in an open letter to ARCOM, the agency responsible for regulating digital communications in France, complained that “Muslims in France not only face Islamophobia, but are also unjustly accused of antisemitism and violence, which makes them double victims.”

The Grand Mosque of Paris (Grande Mosquée de Paris), one of the largest and most influential mosques in France, issued a statement about “the situation in the Middle East” in which it failed to condemn Hamas or acknowledge Israel’s right to exist. The mosque’s the Algeria-born rector, Chems-Eddine Hafiz, also failed to condemn Hamas. He did call on Muslims “not to import the conflict between Palestine and Israel into France.”

On October 26, Hafiz appeared on BFMTV with Haïm Korsia, the Chief Rabbi of France. Speaking in French, Hafiz appeared genuinely conciliatory toward Jews and asserted that it is “abnormal for a Muslim to be antisemitic. It’s not possible.” He claimed that “our holy book, the Quran, and our prophet Mohammed, always declared that Moses is his religious brother. Throughout the Quran, the verses cite practically all the great Israelite prophets…. Since the founding of Islam 14 centuries ago, there have been no organized antisemitic acts, not even in Muslim countries.”

When asked if he thinks Hamas is a terrorist group, Hafiz demurred but described the massacre of civilians as an “abomination.” He added: “We say to the Jewish community that is suffering, we suffer with you,” and, “what I want is the return of the hostages so that my Jewish brothers can be happy.”

The next day, Al-Quds Al-Arabi, a pro-Palestinian daily newspaper published in London, condemned Hafiz’s statements as “shocking” and blamed him for “equating the victim with the executioner in Palestine.” The article mocked his comments that “Muslims are crying over the pain of the Jews” and questioned whether he should continue as rector of the Paris Mosque.

In response to mounting criticism from Islamists, Hafiz on November 1 issued a statement in Arabic in which he walked back some of his conciliatory comments toward Jews and Israelis. He explained that his main objective for appearing on television alongside the rabbi was “to establish a Palestinian state in the full meaning of the word.” He added, “I never said that Hamas is a terrorist movement, nor the opposite. I said that it would be unfair to say that the Palestinian people are terrorists.” He noted, “I personally wrote last Friday’s sermon, read by 150 imams of the Grand Mosque of Paris throughout France, calling for praying to Allah to free our brothers in Gaza…. I consider the resistance of the Palestinian people as legitimate to obtain their fundamental rights.”

Hafiz said he was reluctant to speak more forcefully against Hamas because his comments might “fuel Islamophobia and hatred towards Muslims.” He concluded: “The battle we must fight together has two aspects: overcoming fear and hatred towards Muslims in Europe, and convincing public opinion of the murderous terrorism suffered by Palestinians.”

On November 2, the Grand Mosque of Paris issued a statement condemning the “increase in anti-Muslim acts and speeches” and the “progressive and worrying increase of stereotypical, stigmatizing, racist and hateful speech against the Muslims of France.”

On November 11, Hafiz, in an opinion article published by Le Monde, argued that Muslims in France “suffer abject accusations that stereotype them and make them complicit in all the worst abuses.” He demanded: “Stop accusing Muslims of the evils of our society, and especially antisemitism.”

French anthropologist Florence Bergeaud-Blackler, an expert in Islamist networks in Europe, noted that Hafiz was engaging in “doublespeak” but conceded that he is “under intense pressure” from Islamists in Europe and elsewhere. Le Salon Beige, an influential blog representing Roman Catholics, in a detailed analysis of Hafiz’s long history of apparent contradictions, asked: “So, with all these biases, these evasions and these untruths, how can we place the slightest confidence in the words of the rector, even if they may be imbued with the greatest charity?”

French-Tunisian Imam Hassan Chalghoumi, leader of the Drancy Mosque in Seine-Saint-Denis, near Paris, is one of the few Muslim leaders in France to unequivocally condemn Hamas. “Hamas is a terrorist group, it is terror,” he said in an October 12 interview with CNews television. “Hamas is the same as Daesh [Islamic State].”

In an October 13 opinion article published by Le Monde, French philosopher Abdennour Bidar criticized France’s Muslim community for keeping silence about Hamas’s atrocities. “As a Muslim intellectual, I condemn, without reservation, without ambiguity and without any hesitation, the massacres and hostage-taking perpetrated by Hamas, and I denounce them as pure barbarity and absolutely unjustifiable savagery.”

Bidar continued that he was “alarmed to see that, on the Muslim side, there is so much delay in speaking out commensurate with the seriousness of the facts. I would not like this deafening silence to last too long, or for us to only hear people speaking out who are desperately incapable of escaping ambiguity or half-measures. I therefore call on the Muslim authorities of France to finally react.”

Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron failed to attend a large pro-Israel demonstration in Paris on November 12. More than 100,000 people attended the march, which protested rising antisemitism in France. He justified his absence by saying that the president’s role is to “preserve the unity of our country” and that “protecting French people of Jewish faith” could imply “pillorying those of Muslim faith.”

Bergeaud-Blackler, the anthropologist, noted, “as far back as I can remember, the fight against antisemitism has never been against Muslims. This propaganda, a pure product of the Muslim Brotherhood, has reached the top echelons of the French government. This is very worrying.”

On November 14, the French weekly news magazine L’Express revealed that Macron had solicited advice from Yassine Belattar, a controversial Franco-Moroccan comedian who is widely believed to be close to the Muslim Brotherhood. Belattar reportedly warned Macron that if he makes the “irreparable” error of attending the antisemitism protest, he would “give the neighborhoods reason to burst into flames.” He was referring to the Muslim riots that engulfed France in June and July 2023.

Germany

The Central Council of Muslims in Germany (Zentralrat der Muslime in Deutschland, ZMD), an umbrella group that represents more than 20 Muslim organizations (including groups linked to Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood) in Germany, falsely blamed Israel for the massacre carried out by Hamas. In an October 8 statement, ZMD, said it was “deeply disturbing” that “settlers flanked by the Israeli army have been attacking Palestinian villages and the Al-Aqsa mosque for two years without the international community intervening.”

On October 27, ZMD demanded that Israel “stop the bombs on Gaza,” and claimed that the war there “has now crossed all limits.” It called for “an immediate ceasefire and the opening of a permanent humanitarian corridor to Gaza,” but failed to note that there was a ceasefire in place before Hamas violated it on October 7.

One of the most influential Islamist groups in Germany is the Islamic Community Millî Görüş (Islamische Gemeinschaft Milli Görüş, IGMG), a neo-Ottoman political and religious movement that is close to both the Muslim Brotherhood and the Turkish government. Millî Görüş (National Vision), which rejects secular Western values, has been outspoken in its support for Hamas. The chairman of Millî Görüş, Kemal Ergün, justified the terrorist group’s actions by blaming Israeli “interventions” on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

On November 13, Ergün, in an interview with Camia Haber, a Cologne-based Turkish-language media outlet for Turks living in Germany, complained about the “constant expectation of a statement from Islamic organizations” condemning Hamas and antisemitism, and the “constant expectation of Muslims, from workplaces to schools, to declare a pure stance” vis-à-vis Jews. “It is almost like a manifesto is expected.”

On November 8, Ergün reposted an article from Perspektif, a Cologne-based Islamist publication, which argued that Europe has a “historical responsibility” to support Palestinian statehood for the reason that after the Second World War, “Palestinians welcomed European refugees and Holocaust survivors because Europe had an antisemitism problem.” The article claims: “It was Palestinians who opened their homes and shared their meals, but a year or two later they experienced the ‘Nakba’ [Arabic for “catastrophe”] and became refugees themselves.”

On Facebook, Abdülkadir Ali Demir, a Cologne-based theologian for Millî Görüş, shared a video titled “Gaza War in Preparation for Greater Israel,” which promotes a conspiracy narrative that the Hamas attack was “staged by Israeli agents” to create a pretext for implementing “a Jewish 100-year plan to establish a Greater Israel.” After an uproar of public criticism, Demir deleted the video from his Facebook page.

On November 9, Ali Mete, the general secretary of Millî Görüş, claimed that Muslims, too, are victims of Kristallnacht (a pogrom against Jews carried out by the Nazi Party on November 9, 1938). He wrote the Nazi’s anti-Jewish pogrom “is a reminder and lesson not only for Germany, but for all humanity, wherever minorities are hated, attacked or killed because of their religious, cultural or ethnic identities.” Mete added: “It is a shame that today, 85 years later, Jews and other minorities such as Muslims must fear for themselves and their places of worship in the face of this historical experience.”

On November 3, Mete twisted a statement by German Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck, who expressed concerns about growing antisemitism in Germany and declared that “basically, Hamas must be destroyed.” Mete claimed that “Muslims do not experience any waves of solidarity after racist attacks in Germany. On the contrary: We feel left alone, often even abandoned. The list of incidents is too long to be listed here.” He added: “Racism is part of everyday life for Muslims in Germany.”

Mete then asked: “What logic and chain of associations lies behind your request that Muslims or Islamic religious communities must distance themselves from terrorist attacks?” He added: “Since October 7, there has been increasing uncertainty among Muslims. Many young people are wondering what their future will look like in the country they call home if they, as Muslims and their organizations, are held collectively responsible for what is happening in the Middle East.”

German-Turkish Islam expert Murat Kayman noted that “even on November 9” Islamist groups “failed to stand up for Jews in Germany without addressing anti-Muslim racism.” He said that Islamists do not see antisemitism as a “problem in itself,” but only as a “backdrop for self-referential communication.” They are interested in “portraying themselves as victims” and “drawing attention to their own concerns.” This is “not an expression of genuine concern for the security of Jewish life in Germany” but rather the “instrumentalization of antisemitism as a communicative crutch.”

The Muslim Coordination Council (Koordinationsrat der Muslime, KRM), an umbrella group that represents six Islamist groups, issued a statement that blamed both Israel and Hamas for the violence. Reinhard Bütikofer, a German lawmaker and Member of the European Parliament, criticized the KRM: “How can you trust people who are unwilling to call a spade a spade?”

On November 7, the KRM alleged that the “lack of public sympathy” for Palestinians “is causing increasing incomprehension within the Muslim community in Germany.” It stated that “this general suspicion leads to alienation, particularly among younger Muslims.” It claimed that “there are increasing reports in Muslim society about children and young people who are exposed to stigmatization in schools.”

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Germany (Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Deutschland), which claims to promote a “peaceful and compassionate” version of Islam, issued a statement in which it failed to mention Hamas by name and instead claimed that Israel’s blockade of Gaza “is disproportionate and violates international law.”

The Union of Islamic Cultural Centers (Verband der Islamischer Kulturzentren, VIKZ), an umbrella group that controls 300 mosques in Germany and for decades has trained Islamic theologians, has yet to issue a statement publicly condemning Hamas.

The Islamic Community of Shia Congregations in Germany (Islamische Gemeinschaft der schiitischen Gemeinden Deutschlands, IGS), which is linked to the Iranian government, has also failed to condemn Hamas.

The Islamic Community of Bosnians in Germany (Islamische Gemeinschaft der Bosniaken in Deutschland, IGBD) condemned “the latest escalations of violence in and around Gaza” but failed to mention Hamas by name.

Not one of Germany’s main Muslim umbrella groups agreed to attend a special hearing at the German Parliament on October 17, when lawmakers asked them to issue a joint statement condemning Hamas.

Cem Özdemir, a German-Turkish lawmaker who is currently serving as Germany’s Agriculture Minister, lamented the “resounding silence from the Islamic associations in Germany about the terror against Israel.” He accused them of “relativizing words along the lines of ‘it’s your own fault’” and said that Germany must “end its naivete” when dealing with Islamists in the country.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is notorious for using mosques in Europe and North America to promote Islamist propaganda.

Turkish influence is clearly at play. German-Turkish Islam expert Eren Güvercin noted that many Muslim associations in Germany are reluctant to publicly criticize Hamas because of fear of retribution from the Turkish government. “As a critical German-Muslim voice, you end up in the crosshairs of AKP [Türkiye’s ruling party] if you describe Hamas as a terrorist organization,” he wrote. “The anti-Jewish agitation and unconditional solidarity with Hamas terrorists has reached such an extent that not even a single critical Muslim voice is tolerated.” Güvercin added that spies for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Germany are “reporting the commentary in Germany to Ankara in ‘press reviews.’”

Türkiye is undoubtedly fomenting hostility toward Israel in German society. The Turkish government’s Directorate for Religious Affairs (known in Turkish as Diyanet) controls nearly 1,000 mosques in Germany. In an October 20 speech, Diyanet chief Ali Erbaş asked “Allah” to “have mercy on our Palestinian martyrs who died under the oppression of Israel.” He accused Israel of “perpetrating the greatest atrocities witnessed in human history in Palestine, Gaza” and alleged that the Jewish state was committing a “great crime against humanity in front of the eyes of the whole world.”

Diyanet controls the Cologne-based Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB), one of the largest Islamist organizations in Germany. It is frequently referred to as an “arm” of the Turkish state. Every week, Diyanet circulates sermons that are recommended to be delivered in DITIB mosques during Friday prayer services.

On October 13, a Diyanet sermon described Israel as a “rusty dagger stuck in the heart of Islamic geography” and justified Hamas’s massacre by accusing Israel of “damaging the reputation of Jerusalem” and “violating the sanctity” of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Another Diyanet sermon, recommended for delivery in German mosques on Friday, October 20, claimed that “one of the greatest atrocities in human history is taking place today in Palestine, Gaza.” It added that Israel was “brutally murdering innocent people, including babies, children, women and the elderly.” Apparently alluding to Palestinians in Gaza, Diyanet called on “all of humanity to stand with the oppressed.”

Greece

The Muslim Association of Greece, which claims to represent 300,000 Muslims in the country, has not issued a public condemnation of Hamas, but its leader, Naim El Ghandour, has posted copious amounts of Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood propaganda on social media. In a Facebook post, he “salutes the Palestinian uprising against the terrorist state of Israel.” He has organized anti-Israel events in Athens, which is home to a large Palestinian community.

Ireland

The Islamic Foundation of Ireland, the official representative of the estimated 85,000 Muslims in Ireland, failed to condemn Hamas’s massacre of Israelis, but in an October 18 statement, issued together with more than two dozen Islamic associations in the country, it “strongly and unequivocally” condemned “the Israeli onslaught against the people of Palestine and the heinous assault carried out on the Al-Ahly Arab Hospital in Gaza.” The deadly explosion at the hospital was caused by a Gazan — not Israeli — missile.

The Islamic Foundation of Ireland also criticized the “unconditional support” the United States has given Israel and the “support or silence of many European countries” which allows “the occupying forces in Palestine to perpetrate such atrocities.”

Italy

The Union of Islamic Communities and Organizations in Italy (L’Unione delle Comunità Islamiche in Italia, UCOII), one of the largest Muslim umbrella groups in Italy and one that has been accused of being tied to the Muslim Brotherhood, has not condemned Hamas. In a television interview, UCOII president Yassine Lafram did criticize Hamas, but he blamed Israel for provoking the massacre.

On October 31, UCOII called for Israel to end its “genocide” of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and asked Allah to “give the Palestinian people strength to continue existing.” On November 15, it condemned the “Islamophobic drift” on Italian television.

The other main Muslim umbrella groups, the Islamic Religious Community of Italy (Comunità Religiosa Islamica Italiana, COREIS) and the Italian Islamic Confederation (Confederazione Islamica Italiana, CII) also failed to condemn Hamas.

The Netherlands

The Contact Body for Muslims and Government (Contactorgaan Moslims en Overheid, CMO), one of the main Islamic umbrella groups in the Netherlands, and an official interlocutor between Muslims and the Dutch government, did not issue a statement on the Hamas massacre of Israelis. Instead, the group’s chairman, an Islamist linked to the Turkish government’s Diyanet, called for a “frank discussion between our religious communities in the Netherlands.”

Spain

Spanish lawmaker Alberto Tarradas Paneque. (Photo by VOX España – via Flikr and Wikimedia)

The main Islamic organizations in Spain have been silent about Hamas’ massacre of Jews and its call for global jihad. Neither the Islamic Commission of Spain (Comisión Islámica de España, CIE), the sole interlocutor between Muslims and the Spanish government, nor its two constituent organizations, the Union of Islamic Communities of Spain (Unión de Comunidades Islámicas de España, UCIDE), the Spanish Federation of Islamic Religious Entities (Federación Española de Entidades Religiosas Islámicas, FEERI), have condemned Hamas. “Their silence is complicit,” said Spanish lawmaker Alberto Tarradas Paneque.

On November 7, UCIDE, which represents more than 800 mosques in Spain, accused Israel of “apartheid,” “state terrorism” and “atrocious oppression.” The statement — “Solidarity with Gaza” — falsely blamed Israel for violating “international legality” and “international humanitarian law” and called on the “international community” to force the Jewish state to declare “an immediate, lasting and sustained humanitarian truce leading to the cessation of hostilities.” UCIDE’s statement asserted that “any fair and upright person would position themselves in defense of the oppressed and compliance with international legality.”

UCIDE’s statement was signed by its Islamist president, 75-year-old Syria-born Aiman ​​Adlbi, who was arrested in March 2021 for allegedly financing al-Qaeda militias in Syria through donations to a Turkish NGO called Al Bashaer Humanitarian Organization. A classified police report leaked to the Spanish newspaper El País noted that Adlbi “recommends Salafi and Wahhabi authors, of the most radical currents of Islam, to his students at the Central Mosque of Madrid.” It warned of “possible acts linked to religious fanaticism.” UCIDE’s treasurer, 61-year-old Syria-born Mohamed Hatem Rohaibani, has also been investigated for allegedly belonging to jihadist networks.

On November 15, UCIDE’s delegate to the western Spanish region of Extremadura, 60-year-old Gaza-born Adel Najjar, who is the imam of the Mosque of Badajoz (Mezquita de Badajoz), was arrested for “crimes related to jihadism” after Spanish anti-terrorism police raided his house and mosque. Since Hamas’s October 7 massacre, Najjar has repeatedly accused Israel of committing “genocide” and “carnage against a civilian population.”

Sweden

Mikail Yüksel, a Swedish politician of Turkish origin who leads the Swedish Islamist party Partiet Nyans (Nuance Party), justified the Hamas attack on Israel because the latter “is an occupying power” that “commits war crimes in Palestine.” He also called on the EU to remove Hamas from the bloc’s list of terrorist organizations. Yüksel, who is said to be close to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, added that Nyans is “an uncompromising pro-Palestinian party.” In a tweet, he accused Israel of abducting Palestinian children and called for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to arrest Israeli leaders and prosecute them for war crimes.

On November 16, Yüksel described Israel as an “apartheid state” that is “carrying out ethnic cleansing of Muslims.” On November 14, he declared that “the Nuance Party stands fully behind a total boycott of Israel.” On November 13, Yüksel bragged that his party “has gained over 200 new members since October 7 due to our hard line on Israel.”

The Vision Party (Visionpartiet), another Islamist party that was created by disaffected former members of the Nuance Party, is equally anti-Israel. Party Secretary Adel Sadat justified Hamas’s massacre of Israelis because of the Israeli occupation. “Even a cat forced into a corner will start scratching and fighting for its life,” he wrote. Sadat described as a “terrorist state” that is committing “generational genocide” of the Palestinians.

On November 9, the Vision Party called for international sanctions against Israel “for their violence and war crimes against Palestinian civilians.” It claimed that “what Israel is doing in Gaza is not self-defense but a genocide!” The party proposed the interdiction of “all military deliveries to Israel from the USA that passes via EU countries.”

On October 24, Vision Party Chairman Sead Busuladzic, a Swede of Bosnian origin, complained about “an intensive campaign going on to paint black the entire Palestinian freedom movement and link all its aspects/slogans/frames with antisemitism.” In response, the party launched its own campaign for Palestine: “Supporting Palestine is NOT antisemitism!”

This fight is between Muslims and the rest of the world.

Protesters at October 15 protest held in Stockholm, Sweden

On October 28, Vision Party Secretary Adel Sadat, angry about the Swedish government’s support for Israel, complained about “the Zionist lobby that is raging in Sweden” and added: “You talk about the takeover of Sweden and Swedish values by Muslims and Islam but completely ignore the Zionist infection in Sweden on all levels.”

In the center of Stockholm, representatives of Hizb ut-Tahrir, an international pan-Islamist group that seeks to re-establish the Islamic caliphate and implement sharia globally, called for jihad against Israel and the West. During an October 15 rally at Odenplan, a large plaza in central Stockholm, Islamists repeated chants, including: “This fight is between Muslims and the rest of the world;” “Liberation from Western domination, liberation from the Western ruler;” and “Israelis are nothing but dogs of the West.” On October 10, Hizb ut-Tahrir held a rally at Medborgarplatsen in Stockholm during which Islamists called for death to the Jews and for full support for Hamas.

Switzerland

The Federation of Islamic Umbrella Organizations in Switzerland (Föderation islamischer Dachorganisationen der Schweiz, FIDS), the largest Islamic organization in the country, has not condemned Hamas, but it did publish a statement by the Swiss Council of Religions (Schweizerische Rat der Religionen), an inter-religious dialogue group consisting of Christians, Jews and Muslims, that denounced “Hamas’s terrorist and inhumane attack on Israel.” The statement said that Hamas’s massacre of Israelis was “unprecedented” in “scale and brutality” and represents a “tragedy of immeasurable proportions.”

On October 31, FIDS condemned “Islamophobia” in Switzerland. It declared that “prejudice and hatred against people based on their religion and worldview, be it against Muslims or Jews” are “ethically unacceptable” and “poison for social peace.” It added that “the increase in antisemitic and anti-Muslim statements and actions deeply concerns us.”

In a November 10 interview with the newspaper 20 Minuten, FIDS President Önder Günes, and FIDS board member Fathima Ifthikar, continued with the moral equivalency argument. Günes declared that “antisemitism, hostility to Muslims and racism of any kind must not occur.”

Ifthikar complained that Muslims were being asked to condemn Hamas and the rising tide of antisemitism in Switzerland. “This leaves a bad taste in our mouths: Why do we have to justify ourselves? When Christians cause mischief, I do not expect my fellow Christians to distance themselves.”

Günes continued: “Just as Jews are now exposed to insults and attacks, the same is happening to Muslims. They are insulted and hear something like: We are now having this war because of your faith. Jews and Muslims in the West are blamed for what is happening in the Middle East. That must not be.”

When asked why no one has taken to the streets to protest the persecution of ethnic Muslim Uighurs in China, Günes replied: “Israel sees itself as a constitutional state that must be subject to different standards than those applied to China.”

The Association of Islamic Organizations in Zurich (Vereinigung der Islamischen Organisationen in Zürich, VIOZ), the largest cantonal Muslim umbrella organization in Switzerland with 41 member organizations, has not denounced Hamas by name. On October 27, it issued an anodyne statement — “For Solidarity and Mercy” — that “condemns any kind of violence” and “expects our political representatives” to commit themselves to “protecting the human rights of all people, regardless of worldview or religious affiliation.” It concluded that “antisemitism must have no place in our society. Likewise, there must be no place for anti-Muslim racism.”

The Islamic Central Council of Switzerland (Islamische Zentralrat Schweiz, IZRS), a Qatari-funded Salafist group whose leaders have been surveilled by Swiss intelligence agencies, has organized pro-Hamas demonstrations in Bern. The group’s leader, Nicolas Blancho, a Swiss convert to Islam, continues to incite hatred and violence against Jews and the Jewish state.

Soeren Kern is a Middle East Forum Writing Fellow.

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