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June 27, 2024 Special Dispatch No. 11423

U.S.-Based Islamic Organization That Participates In Anti-Israel Student Protests Glorifies Sheikh Yousuf Al-Qaradawi, An Ideologue Of Muslim Brotherhood And Hamas Known For His Support Of Terrorism, And Praises Hamas October 7 Massacre

June 27, 2024
Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 11423

The Muslim American Society (MAS) Youth Center in New York is one of the Muslim organizations that takes part in the student protests against Israel that have been held in the city since the outbreak of the Gaza war.  Although it bills itself as an independent American organization, MAS is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), the parent organization of Hamas, and some of its founders have ties to the MB. [1] In addition, MAS venerates MB ideologue Sheikh Yousuf Al-Qaradawi (d. 2022) as a major religious authority. This is despite the extremist positions  expressed by this sheikh, who over the years  condoned terror against Israeli and Western targets and used hateful discourse against Christians, Jews and LGBT,[2] and also despite MAS' claim that it undertakes a "critical evaluation" of the writings of various Islamic scholars in order to adapt them to American culture.[3]

This ideological affiliation with the MB explains the organization's radical anti-Israel positions, such as its unreserved support for Hamas and justification the movement's October 7 massacre in southern Israel, as well as the calls for martyrdom and jihad against Israel heard at events held by MAS Philadelphia chapter, some of which were attended by children.

The following are some examples of the organization's support for the ideas of MB and Hamas ideologue Yousuf Al-Qaradawi and for Hamas' October 7 attack.

Praise For Al-Qaradawi's Legacy

Upon Al-Qaradawi's death in September 26, 2022, MAS' New York chapter eulogized him on its Facebook page, calling him "one of the most influential Islamic scholars of this age," and adding: "Muslims the world over looked to Sheikh Qaradawi to answer questions on how to navigate the modern world... He was known to be a staunch opponent of imperialism and [the] political oppression faced by the Muslim world. MAS joins millions around the world to mourn him..."[4]

MAS also held two events, on September 28 and October 23, 2022, to commemorate Al-Qaradawi's "remarkable contributions" to the Islamic nation."[5]

 

Support For Martyrdom And Jihad Against Israel, Including Hamas' October 7 Attack; Antisemitic Rhetoric

This support for Hamas ideologue Al-Qaradawi, who permitted jihad and suicide attacks against Israel, may account for the organization's unreserved support for Hamas' deadly October 7, 2023 massacre in southern Israel. Just two days after this massacre, on October 9, 2023, the organization condoned Hamas' attacks on the Israeli localities while completely ignoring the atrocities it committed as part of these attacks. A post on the organization's Facebook page said that "Palestinian resistance fighters in Gaza began mobilizing and resisting the Israeli settlements surrounding Gaza…" and justified this as "a response to the 16-year blockade, siege and occupation" of the Gaza Strip. It added that this act of "resistance" was " the largest step forward for Palestinians." [6]

In a lecture to young people posted online on April 26, 2024, Abdelrahman Badawy, an imam and resident scholar at the MAS youth center in Staten Island, made flagrantly antisemitic remarks. Comparing the Zionists to the Jews of Muhammad's era, he said that "the Zionist devils have envy, hatred [and] evil in their hearts. They are like the sneaky, cunning, conniving, foul Jewish tribe that battled the Prophet Muhammad."

Other MAS chapters also expressed support for Hamas and for jihad. In a May 7, 2024 event  at the Leaders Academy, which operates at the MAS Philadelphia chapter, one of the speakers glorified jihad and martyrdom, saying that the men of Gaza have taught her what "real men" are and that the women of Gaza are wallowing in the blood of their children, sacrificing them for the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

It should be noted that these positions expressed by MAS are not new and are not a response to the current war  between Hamas and Israel.  Examples from previous years show that they predate the war, and also that this outlook, drawn from the ideology of Hamas and Sheikh Al-Qaradawi, is imparted to the young people who attend MAS' youth centers across the country. A video posted to the Facebook account of MAS Philadelphia in May 2017 shows three girls singing songs in praise of jihad and martyrdom for the sake of Palestine.

Another video, posted by this chapter in 2019, shows young children at a Leaders Academy "Ummah Day" celebration singing  and reciting in praise of jihad and martyrdom. One girl reads out a poem that says "We will defend [Palestine] with our bodies… We will chop off their heads, and we will liberate the sorrowful and exalted Al-Aqsa Mosque… We will subject them to eternal torture." [7]

Organizing And Attending Anti-Israel Protests In New York And Its Campuses

As stated, MAS' New York chapter takes an active part in anti-Israel protests held across New York and in the city's campuses, and calls on all Muslims to join the students' rallies "against their schools' complicity in the Genocide [in] Palestine." 


Call on Muslims to join the student protests (Facebook.com/MAS.Youth.Center, April 22, 2024)


Sheikh Mohammad Badawy, a prominent figure at the MAS New York chapter, speaks at the encampment at Columbia University (Facebook.com/MAS.Youth.Center, April 29, 2024)


Sheikh Mohammad Badawy with Nardine Kiswani, one of the protest leaders and head of the  Within Our Lifetime organization (Instagram.com/masyouthcenter, October 23, 2023)

 

[1] MAS  presents itself on its website as " an independent American organization… [which] has no affiliation with the Ikhwan al Muslimoon (Muslim Brotherhood or the Ikhwan) or with any other international organization," but does not deny that some of its founders had links to the MB. The society's website states that many immigrants from Muslim countries who founded Islamic organizations in the West were members of this movement, since it was  "the only substantive movement that often found itself in opposition to the authoritarian regimes"   (Muslimamericansociety.org, accessed May 20, 2024).

[2] See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1652, "Qaradawi: Qatar's Islamist Empire Builder," October 3, 2022.

[3] Muslimamericansociety.org, accessed May 20, 2024.

[4] Facebook.com/MAS.Youth.Center, October 27, 2022.

[5] Facebook.com/MAS.Youth.Center, September 28, 2022; October 23, 2022. 

[6] Facebook.com/MAS.Youth.Center, October 9, 2023.

[7] It should be noted that MAS tried to renounce the event, saying that the school that held it (i.e., the Leader Academy) is a "separate entity renting space from MAS Philadelphia." See MEMRI report: Following MEMRI's Exposure Of Muslim American Society Islamic Center In Philadelphia (MAS Philly) Video Of Event With Children's Martyrdom Song, MAS Philly Removes Clip, Claiming It Hadn't Been Vetted; Clip Condemned By Congressmen; Philadelphia Human Relations Commission Announces Probe; MEMRI Releases Another MAS Philly Event With Similar Children's Song From 2017, May 8, 2019. See also MAS April 15, 2019 statement, https://www.docdroid.net/pNUR6ts/statement-by-mas-philadelphia-and-leaders-academy-5-15-19-pdf#page=2.  

However, it seems that the relationship between MAS and the Leaders Academy is closer than this. Old Facebook posts that have since been taken down show refer to this school as the "MAS Leaders Academy" (See Ap.com, April 7, 2019). For example, an 2018 post on the Facebook page of the AlHidaya Islamic Center , which likewise shares space with MAS, referred to the Leaders Academy in this manner. See Facebook.com/alhidayah.center, October 27, 2018. Furthermore, many events held by the Leaders Academy are attended by Naser Al-Shaikh, the imam and director of MAS Philadelphia (gtfeducation.org, accessed May 28, 2024). For example, Al-Shaikh attended the academy's eighth-grade graduation ceremony this May. See Facebook.com/The Leaders Academy, May 27, 2024.

 

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