Turkey, specifically Istanbul, despite reports that the Turkish authorities are harassing Muslim Brotherhood (MB) elements to complete normalization with Egypt and the Arab Gulf states, still hosts a large number of organizations, platforms, and educational, media, and ideological institutions directly or indirectly affiliated with the International MB organization.
The past months have witnessed intense activity by the group’s elements and affiliates inside Istanbul, starting with the organization of mourning councils for Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, to the launch of the “Change Movement” within the Egyptian MB, and the new administration election for the “Council of Muslims of Europe”, which constitutes an umbrella for most MB organizations in EU.
In this report, we highlight a number of centers and institutions active in Istanbul for the benefit of the international organization of the MB, or that the organization is working to attract and sponsor.
Imam Malik International Academy of Sciences
We begin the report by talking about one of the educational institutions that the Council of Muslims of Europe is officially recruiting, the Imam Malik International Academy of Sciences, an educational institution licensed in Turkey since the beginning of 2018 that focuses on the humanities, especially Islamic studies and the Arabic language in post-secondary education.
The Imam Malik International Academy of Sciences is run by Abdel Basset Yarbou, a Libyan preacher from Zawiya known for his affiliation with the MB and following the approach of the deposed mufti Sadiq al-Ghariani.
In late 2014, Yerbou was appointed Deputy Minister of Awqaf in the Government of Fajer Libya Mubarak al-Futmani and later appointed as Vice President of the General Authority for Endowments and Islamic Affairs in the Tripoli Government. The Executive Director of the Academy is Mohammed Aref, and the Foundation also includes academics from various Arab countries, such as Professor of Fundamentals of Jurisprudence and the Purposes of Islamic Law, Dr. Wasfi Ashour Abu Zeid, and the Syrian preacher Muhammad Adab Al-Hamsh.
In late November, a delegation from the Council of Muslims of Europe, headed by Abdullah bin Mansour, visited the Academy’s headquarters in Istanbul, where the two parties discussed enhancing cooperation and the possibility of including the Academy in the Council.
It was opened on April 21, 2019, at the Istanbul Municipality Hall, and is one of the most important monuments of the international organization of the MB on Turkish soil, according to observers.
“It’s a leading media platform in establishing and managing youth renaissance projects, contributing to the establishment of a rational renaissance society, and working to lead the nation towards leadership and global competition,” according to its officials.
The project’s idea aims to create strategic plans that lead the nation to global competition and direct the efforts of competent young people toward the optimal use of planning tools and strategic projects.
The Omran Foundation is led behind the scenes by Kuwaiti preacher Tariq Sweidan, while Ibrahim Hawari is the Executive Director. Omran’s “Pioneers for the Establishment of Leadership Development Centers” project is run by Dr. Zana Ahmed Kassab.
Al Sharq Forum
It is an Islamic institution under the slogan “Communication, Dialogue, and Democracy”, founded in 2012 in Tunisia under the supervision of the former Director General of Al-Jazeera, the Palestinian journalist Wadah Khanfar, and its permanent headquarters is located in Istanbul, and in late 2018 it opened a branch in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur.
Among the forum’s institutions are current discussion and research platforms, “Al-Sharq Center for Strategic Research”, “Al-Sharq Academic Platform”, and “Al-Sharq Youth Network”. The forum’s activities are sponsored by Turkey and Qatar, and a wide presence of the MB.
Academy of International Relations
An official Turkish institution headed by Egyptian activist Essam Abdel Shafi. At the general level, it specializes in education, training, and qualification in the humanities and social studies, especially those related to political science and international relations, strategic studies, law, economics, management, media, and sociology.
On the implicit side, it is concerned with graduating MB cadres with a high level of professionalism and qualifying them to obtain ministerial or parliamentary positions that can be employed to consolidate the pillars of the group in the event that it comes to authority.
The Academy was established in 2017 and is located in the Yenibosna district of Istanbul, Turkey, within the VIZYON PARK complex, which contains many Arab research centers, international and Arab commercial companies, and satellite channels operating in Istanbul.
The Academy’s administrative headquarters is divided between two main lecture halls, the first accommodating about 30 people, the second 14 people, four offices dedicated to administrative staff as well as offices for professors and faculty members, and two rooms for logistics, which makes it able to complete many programs and events within its headquarters.
The director of the academy, Essam Abdel Shafi, is one of the most dangerous elements of the Egyptian MB in Turkey, as he plays a pivotal role in graduating a new generation of the group’s members trained in media and intelligence, and has strong links with decision-making circles in Turkey, especially members of the Justice and Development Party, not to mention his association with the Qatari media system. According to observers
Among the Academy of International Relations cadres is the Egyptian academic Seif El-Din Abdel Fattah, who is considered the spiritual father of the so-called “Change Movement” within the Egyptian MB.
Federation of Egyptian Associations in Turkey
It was established in 2018 under the supervision of the prominent leader of the Egyptian MB, Medhat Al-Haddad, and is today one of the entities concerned with managing the funds of the Egyptian MB abroad, in the group’s investment projects, and in terms of collecting funds for donations and monthly subsidies.
The Federation of Egyptian Associations in Turkey is a member of the Union of Islamic NGOs, which is supervised by the international organization and plays a major role in attracting Arab youth in general, not just Egyptians.
Medhat al-Haddad, one of the economic wing founders within the MB, is a member of the MB’s General Shura Council and was in charge of the administrative office of a governorate in Alexandria before fleeing Egypt. His deputy in the Federation of Egyptian Associations in Turkey is El-Ezaby and Treasurer Mokhtar El-Ashry.
NGOs Union in the Islamic World
It was established in Istanbul in 2005 to be a link to communicate with MB organizations around the Arab region under the guise of “civil associations”, and the Union includes several institutions in Turkey and a number of Arab and Islamic countries and has about 360 organizations in 60 countries according to the organization’s own data.
The Union has extensive partnerships with the Council of Muslims of Europe, the Federation of Islamic Organizations in France, and other international institutions affiliated with the MB in EU. It is also tasked with collecting donations, Zakat funds, and is supervised by two international organization leaders, Ghazwan al-Masri and Jamal Karim al-Din, of Syrian origin and holding Turkish citizenship, and headed by Turkish Ali Kurt.
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