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April 4, 2012 Special Dispatch No. 4634

French Islamist Forum Prepares Anti-'Demon-Cracy' Campaign for French Presidential Election

April 4, 2012
Special Dispatch No. 4634

On March 22, 2012, following the terrorist attacks in Toulouse and Montauban, French President Nicolas Sarkozy stated: "From now on, anyone regularly visiting websites promoting terrorism... or participating abroad in indoctrination related to ideologies that lead to terrorism, will face prosecution." Sarkozy's words did not, however, prevent the French Islamist forum Ansar Al-Haqq from continuing with its preparations for an anti-democracy campaign, to precede France's presidential election set to take place later this month.

On the forum, administrators "Ibn Hittin" and "Abu Ibrahim Al-Bosnawi" (the Bosnian), who appear to be based in the north of France, along with forum members, are coordinating plans to print flyers aimed at deterring French Muslims from voting in the elections. The flyers are to be distributed prior to election day, April 22, across France and in Belgium. As of this writing, the forum has collected €800 in donations toward the campaign.

The forum stated that the text of the flyer would be sent to the spiritual guide of the forum and of its administrators, the Kosovo-based "Fiqh instructor" Idriz Bilbani, also known as Abu Osama,[1] for approval prior to distribution. It was later noted that the flyer was indeed approved.

Following Sarkozy's statements, some forum members asked the administrators to delete their accounts, but denied that their requests had anything to do with the statements.

The following is a review of the discussion about the campaign on Ansar Al-Haqq, in a thread titled "All Against Demon-Cracy."

The "All against Demon-Cracy" thread on Ansar Al-Haqq

"All against Demon-Cracy": An Anti-Democracy Campaign for Election Day


On March 3, 2012, Ansar Al-Haqq[2] opened a thread with an announcement titled "All against Demon-Cracy."[3] The announcement read: "I hereby inform you of our wide-scale project to prepare anti-democracy flyers in order to warn Muslims at large against a modern devastating shirk [polytheism, idolatry]… I am issuing a call to collect enough money to flood all of France with our anti-democracy flyers… May Allah reward those who participate in the spreading of authentic da'wa [preaching]…"

The announcement went on to note that the anti-democracy propaganda campaign would begin several days prior to April 22, the date of the first round of the French presidential election.

Writing in the thread, "Abu Malik wa Taymiyya" noted that the project was initiated by senior forum member "Abu Zubaydah," adding that its coordinators had "organized themselves in a very precise manner." Administrator "Al-Bosnawi" wrote that members had been "working for several weeks" on the project, and added that donations to the project should be sent to fellow administrator "Ibn Hittin" (details were provided in private mail correspondence outside the forum.)

In the course of the thread, an argument developed among members as to whether all the flyers should be printed by the administrators or if some should be printed where they are to be distributed. Member "Mellinaa el mouwahida" offered to print some in Brussels, her place of residence, but her proposal was abruptly dismissed. It was decided that all the flyers would be printed by the administrators, and that they would then send bundles of them to members in various locations via regular mail.

Project "Aims to Warn a Great Number of Muslims that the Cursed Din of Democracy Is Completely Contrary to the Authentic Din – And to Prevent the Masses of Believers from Acting against the Will of Allah"

On March 26, administrator "Ibn Hittin" wrote in the thread that "everything is ready." He noted that the flyer campaign "aims to warn a great number of Muslims that the cursed din [religion] of democracy is completely contrary to the authentic din [i.e., Islam] – and to prevent the masses of believers from acting against the will of Allah." Ibn Hittin also requests that the members "stay put, remain where they are, and hold their tongues" about the project.

Ansar Al-Haqq's Spiritual Guide – Kosovo "Fiqh Instructor" Idriz Bilbani

According to administrator "Al-Bosnawi," the flyers would be written in both French and Arabic, the final text of which had been presented to "Fiqh instructor" Idriz Bilbani, also known as Abu Osama Bilbani, who "will make suggestions and give final approval." Later in the thread, administrator "Ibn Hittin" noted that Bilibani had approved the text.

Idriz Bilbani

"Al-Bosnawi" noted in the thread that Bilbani, 30, had attended Novi Pazar Islamic school in the Sandjak region of former Yugoslavia, and had also attended Al-Azhar University in Cairo, and that his writings could be found on Bosnian sites. He said that Bilbani teaches classes on the video chat site Paltalk and on Putvjernika, a website of the Bosnian Salafi movement (putvjernika.com), that he specialized in theology, and that he has a Ph.D. Bilbani's sheikh, "Al-Bosnawi" stated, was the prominent London-based Salafi cleric Abu Basir Al-Tartousi.[4] Bilbani currently resides in Kosovo and teaches at a mosque and on the internet, said "Al-Bosnawi," adding that Bilbani was also a student of Sheikh Nusret Imamovic, a prominent figure in the Bosnian Salafi movement who "recently had problems with the Bosnian authorities, and was arrested and then released."

Collaborators in Switzerland and Belgium

In the thread, "Al-Bosnawi," who according to guest member "Samy Samuel" authored the flyer, wrote that there was a possibility that the flyers could be printed in Switzerland. Brussels-based member "Hsn.Mzr," addressing "Samy Samuel," wrote: "[Y]ou know how to contact me if you want us to come," and added that he would be happy to help in the field because "we owe you this, since you came to Brussels."

Homepage of the Ansar al-Haqq French Islamist forum

Flyers to Be Distributed throughout France

On March 31, "Al-Bosnawi" wrote on the thread that the translation of the flyer (from French to Arabic) had been completed, and that printing would start the following Monday, March 26, and be finished Tuesday, April 10. "One brother will deal with the mailing of the parcels" containing the bundles of flyers, he noted, adding that this would take four to five days, and that the addressees would receive them by April 15. Administrator "Ibn Hittin" provided technical information regarding the mailing of the packages, saying that they would be sent by "Colissimo 48hour" parcels and that the largest of them would weigh seven kilograms.

"Ibn Hittin" wrote on the thread that he would draw up a list of the various brothers to whom packages would be sent, and that he himself would handle distribution in northern France. He said that he needed volunteers in Paris, Lyon and, more specifically, in southern France. Forum member "Ibrahim" wrote that he would hand out flyers in Nice, in the south. The forum's administrators reported that 100,000 flyers would be distributed in all.

On March 27, "Ibn Hittin" wrote in the thread that the "brothers who live near" him would be given flyers directly by him, and that the nearby "sisters will be handed flyers by my wife."

The thread includes a link to a PDF of the flyer, which is titled "The Reality of Democracy,"[5] and which calls on the Muslims not to participate in the "setting up of a false divinity."

"Ibn Hittin" said on the thread that considering that "republican Imams" (a derogatory term for mainstream clerics accused by the Islamists of serving the French republic) would start calling to worshipers in the mosques to vote in their sermons of Friday, April 20, "Al-Bosnawi" suggested "beginning to distribute flyers in front of the mosques following the Friday sermon and to continue with the distribution on Saturday" prior to election day. Member "New Brother Abouabdarrahman" suggested putting up large posters bearing facsimiles of the flyers in mosques, at butcher shops and other places frequented by Muslims.

Senior member "Allandelozzi" noted in the thread that "my location will not enable me to hand out flyers: I am too far north." "Ibn Hittin" responded that the flyers would be sent to various regions of France and that he would surely be able to distribute them. Additionally, "Mellinaa el mouwahida" volunteered to hand out flyers in Belgium.

New Thread Titled "Removal of Accounts" Follows President Sarkozy's Promise to Punish Incitement

The day after French President Sarkozy's promise to punish incitement, a new thread titled "Removal of Accounts"[6] was started, in which a few members asked the forum's administrators to delete their accounts. These members denied that there was a connection between their requests and Sarkozy's statements. Senior member "Abou Malik wa Taymiyya"[7] and Mellinaa el mouwahida were among those requesting that their accounts be deleted.

Endnotes:

[1] Alternate spellings: in Bosnian, Ebu Osama Bilbani; in French, Abou Oussama Bilbani.

[2] For background on this forum, see MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 657, "Islamist Websites in Europe – A General Review Part 2: Sites and Forums in French," January 24, 2011, Islamist Websites in Europe – A General Review Part 2: Sites and Forums in French.

[4] MEMRI has published numerous reports on Abu Basir Al-Tartousi. See most recently: MEMRI Special Dispatch Series No. 4578, "Backlash Against Al-Tartousi For His Criticism Of New Syrian Jihad Group; Sheikh Abu Sa'd Al-'Amili To Al-Tartousi: 'Come Back To Your Senses,'" March 16, 2012 http://www.memrijttm.org/content/en/report.htm?report=6184¶m=GJN; MEMRI Special Dispatch Series No. 4579, "Senior Salafi-Jihadi Cleric Sheikh Abu Basir Al-Tartousi: Al-Qaeda's Strategy of Suicide Bombings Has Yielded Nothing but the Death of Muslims," March 16, 2012, http://www.memrijttm.org/content/en/report.htm?report=6185.

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