The Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic law in Europe
by Lorenzo Vidino
April 30, 2006
Over the last few days various contributors to the CT Blog have debated the real aims of the Muslim Brotherhood, especially in the West. Another indication of what the Ikhwan really want came just a few days ago from Sweden, where the country's largest Muslim organization, the Brotherhood-linked Sveriges Muslimska Förbund (SMF), published a serious of demands addressed to all Swedish political parties (note the text-in Swedish only- "we demand," not "we ask" or "we suggest"). Among its many demands, SMF stated Swedish Muslims should be given time off work for Friday prayers and Islamic holidays and that imams should approve all divorces between Muslim couples. Basically, SMF is asking for a partial introduction of sharia law in Sweden and the creation of a separate legal system for Swedish Muslim, something politicians from all sides of the Swedish political spectrum and moderate Muslim organizations have immediately condemned as completely unacceptable.
The Swedish case is hardly unique, but mirrors the demand of Brotherhood-linked organizations throughout Europe. For example, in Germany, the Islamische Gemeinschaft Deutschland (IGD), the country's largest Muslim organization, has stated in its official publication Al Islam (here, page 48): "In the long run, Muslims cannot be satisfied with the acceptance of German family, estate, and trial law. … Muslims should aim at an agreement between the Muslims and the German state with the goal of a separate jurisdiction for Muslims." In Great Britain, the UK Islamic Mission, has the stated goal of conducting a "continuous campaign for the establishment of Muslim family laws," and to "establish Islamic social order in the United Kingdom in order to seek the pleasure of Allah."
The Ikhwan organizations of Europe follow the teachings of Sheik Yusuf al Qaradawi, who outlined the methods that these organizations should follow in order to achieve their goal of establishing sharia in Europe in his book Priorities of the Islamic Movement in the Coming Phase. In spite of the European Brothers' pro-integration public declarations, Qaradawi urges them: "Try to have your small society within the larger society…Try to have your own ‘Muslim ghetto.'" Qaradawi clearly sees the role that the Ikhwan organizations would play in creating these separated Muslim communities, running the mosques, schools, and civic organizations that will shape the daily life of the desired "Non-territorial Islamic States in Europe," as Reuven Paz calls them. Qaradawi also suggests that sharia law should govern the relations among inhabitants of these Muslim islands, affirming that Muslim minorities "should also have amongst them their own ulema and men of religion to answer their questions when they ask them, guide them when they lose the way and reconcile them when they differ among themselves."
Unlike the Salafis, the Brothers use a cunning double-talk when dealing with Western elites, advocating integration and dialogue. Yet the plans of the two movements, two different faces of the same coin, are eerily similar. Abu Qatada, al Qaeda's "ambassador" to Europe was clear about the mujaheddins' goal: "Muslims' target is the West. We will split Rome open. The destruction must be carried out by sword. Those who will destroy Rome are already preparing the swords. Rome will not be conquered with the word but with the force of arms." This is how Qaradawi sees the same issue: "Islam will return to Europe as a conqueror and victor, after being expelled from it twice…I maintain that the conquest this time will not be by the sword but by preaching and ideology." Different methods, but same goal. Are we sure the U.S. government should use the Brothers as partners in the dialogue with the Muslim world?