Issued by CEMO Center - Paris
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Madkhalism in Europe (5)

Tuesday 23/October/2018 - 03:17 PM
The Reference
Maher Farghaly & Salah El-Din Hassan

The globalization of Islamism groups has also impacted the Salafi movement. Many of Salafists have turned to the group activities and organizational work.

Mohamed Ali Ibrahim, Deputy Chairman of Egypt's Salafi Al-Nour Party, said: "We have been into organizational work since we started in the 1970s. This is not new to us. Our fears of Muslim Brotherhood deviations have led to be the game".

He said after the Arab Spring, the Salafi presence has started to grow bit by bit. It was no surprise because it was planned many years ago. We can say it is rather like the Brotherhood's International Organization, which was launched by its former supreme guide Moustafa Mashhour.

Saeed Hammad, former board member the Salafi Dawah, was in charge of the Salafi foreign portfolio and organized many African tours to introduce the Salafi movement for nearly 40 years.

Hammad toured Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Yemen, where he met with Abulhassan al-Maaraby, a disciple of sheikh Hadi al-Wadiy, in Dammaj.

However, Hammad severed from Al-Wadiya and authored a book titled "Salafists and Political Practice", which contributed to the Salafi engagement in party activities.

Sudan has been a key hub for moving the Salafi trend to Europe. Sheikh Ahmed Hotayba, board member of Egypt's Salafi Dawah, played a key role in this regard.

Egyptian Salafists played a key role in promoting the Salafi Dawah in the Arab world. Yasser Borhamy, Deputy Chairman of the Salafi Dawah, is one Egyptian Salafists who coordinated with Salafi branches in Tunisia, Qatar, Sudan and Saudi Arabia.

Kuwaiti Salafists, led by Abdel Rahman Abdel Khalek. are the key financiers of the Salafi geographical penetration. Abdel Khalek is an Egyptian-born and Kuwaiti national. He founded Umma Party in 2005 to be the arm of the Salafi Dawah in Kuwait.

Egyptian security sources say Abdel Khalek is the financier of Salafists in Egypt. He contributed to the foundation of Al-Nour Party after the January 25 Revolution.

Abdel Khalek assisted the Tunisian Salafists in the establishment of Reform Front Party in 2012.

Salafist sheikh Adel Awad says in his book "Muslim Brotherhood International Organization in Turkey" that Germany is a Salafist hub and Berlin is the world capital of Salafists.

Awad has said the Association of Muslim Scholars in Istanbul is a Salafi organization, where Saudi sheikh Ahmed al-Soyan, editor-in-chief of Al-Bayan magazine, and Abdalla Shaker, head of Ansar al-Sunna Association, are leading members.

Salafists have been keen on expansion in Europe, and Germany via Turkish immigrants was a center stage.

According to a report published by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, a German domestic intelligence agency, Germany has no confirmed information about the numbers of al-Qaeda members in the Maghreb, Arabian Peninsula, Al-Nusra Front and ISIS.

The report estimated the number of Salafists in Germany at 8,350 in 2015, up from 7,000 a year earlier. The Salafists distributed millions of free Qur'an copies in Germany.

The Salafist leaders in Europe include Palestinian-born Ibrahim Abou Nagie, former boxer and Islam convert Pierre Vogel and Abu Adam, who served in the German army.

Abu Adam is in charge of the Salafi organization in Germany and helps German Salafists who migrate to Arab countries.

In June 2015, a Daily Herald report warned of a Salafi penetration in Europe, especially in France, Britain and Germany.

Mahmoud al-Naqshbandi, an adviser to the British Cabinet on combating extremism, said Salafists are increasing, as they manage 7% of 1,740 mosques in the United Kingdom.

He said that quarter of British population is young people who could easily accept the Salafi ideas nut its simplicity may be ill-used as in the case of ISIS.

On the other hand, security expert Rene Leray overviewed the European Union's vision of the growing challenges of the Salafi movement in the southern Mediterranean. He has said that Europe is keeping an eye on the political scene in the southern Mediterranean after the Arab uprisings as it is concerned with south-to-north migration.

Leray said the European Union supported regimes thought to be better allies for their military and security tools. However, surprisingly these regimes collapsed and the Islamist movements rose fast, noting that the EU is seeking to lay out outlines for its foreign policies towards the Mediterranean.

Between 2002 and 204, a number of key Salafi groups emerged. Their Salafi leaders included Hassan al-Dabagh (from Syria), born Ibrahim Abou Nagie (from Gaza), Abdel Azim Qamous, Mohamed bin Hussein, Pierre Vogel and Abou Anas (from Germany). All of them speak German, although many of them are not of German origins.

Madkhalism has been one the most significant Salafi movements that spread in Europe. As it showed absolute loyalty to the regimes, Madkhalism expanded unnoticeably.

The Salafi movement started in Europe in the early 1960s via Dawah and Tabligh and the Pakistani community in Britain. Then it spread to France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.

The real Salafi boom took place in the 1990s via top figures of the Salafi wing of Algeria's Islamic Salvation Front, which fled to France, Germany, Belgium and Switzerland after the Algerian regime abolished the electoral results in 1991.

The Algerian Salafi movement in Europe comprised three trends: the Association of Algerian Muslim Ulema, which was founded in 1936 by Abdelhamid Ben Badis to resist the French occupation, graduates of Salafi schools and universities in Arab Gulf countries, and Jihadi Salafists (inspired by  Sayyid Qutb and Abdalla Azzam) who participated in the Afghanistan war during the Soviet occupation until 1989.

The Jihadi Salafist trend was the first seed of the Jihadi current in Europe.

The Algerian Salafi movement in Europe started to fade away as of the mid1990s for a number of reasons. It failed to attract Muslims from various ethnicities – Arabs, Indians, Turkish, Africans and others.

The Algerian Salafi current also lost finance, from Arab Gulf countries, as it supported the Iraqi aggression on Kuwait in 1990. That has opened the way for the Wahhabi Salafists through elements graduated from sheikh al-Albany center in Jordan, Dar al-Hadith in Yemen and the Sharia Department in Damascus University.

The Mashriq Salafist movement expanded via building mosques in a number of European countries like Belgium, Switzerland and France.

The ideology of the European Salafist trends is based on building up a separation wall through the reconstruction of identity and boycotting the social, religious and cultural traditions of the West. Based on the Islamic nation concept, it transcends all nationalities.

The Madkhalist-Jami-Wadiy trend took the lead in Europe as it has become widespread in mosques like Yutz.

The German intelligence service has put some 70 Salafi mosques under surveillance in North Rhine-Westphalia, according to Der Spiegel online.

The Der Spiegel report said North Rhine-Westphalia was considering a ban on extremist mosques and Salafi groups, and the Office for the Protection of the Constitution listed 19 mosques where extremist sermons were delivered.

The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution in North Rhine-Westphalia said in another report that the number of Salafists rose from 2,500 in 2015 to 2,900 in 2016. The number rose to 3,000 by October 2017. Around 50% of them are German nationals.

An OCAD report has warned of the growing influence of the Salafist ideology in Belgium. The report said a growing number of mosques and Islamic centers in Belgium are under the influence of a Wahhabi, Salafist proselytizing apparatus.

The report ascribed the spread of Wahhabism in Belgium to the influence of Saudi funding and strong Wahhabi proselytizing, noting that the Salafi trend has shifted the Muslims away from Western values.

The report warned of undermining the Salafi groups on the pretext of being an isolated movement. OCAD considers it an active movement as it promoted the Salafi movement in Europe.  

The report did not dismiss the role of the Wahhabi media organs as well as the social media addressing Europe.

Researcher Ineke Roex said Salafi groups were active between 2008 and 2009, following up the political mainstream in the Netherlands without interference.

The Salafi participation were excluded in TV interviews, Internet articles with all of the activities focused on the Muslim community in mosques or via satellite channels.

The Salafists also organized 'street dawah', marking a precedence in the Dutch history as Salafists explained what Salafism is to the public in the streets.

The Hofstad Group, a network of extremists led by Moroccan Mohammed Bouyeri, and which killed Dutch film director Theo van Gogh in 2004, was the first Salafi group in the Netherlands.

Other Salafi groups also emerged in El Tawheed Mosque in Amsterdam, Al-Sunnah Mosque in The Hague, and Waqf (Furqan) Mosque in Eindhoven.

There are two networks: one around the Salam family and the other around Imam Bouchta.

The Islamist groups which emerged in the Netherlands and across Europe in early 1980s included Dawah and Tabligh, the Libyan International Islamic Dawah, Islamic Waqf, the Muslim Brotherhood, Moroccan Al Adl Wa Al Ihssane and the Salafi Dawah. All of them have sought to promote the religious ideology and impose their religious political vision.

The Dutch security authorities said the mosques were not open for the all Muslims, but there were mosques for Moroccans, Turks, Pakistanis, etc. The mosques' role was not confined to rituals, as they have turned into hubs for producing takfiri, jihadi and Salafi thoughts, promoting antagonism towards secular and democratic regimes.