Yahia Bouyafa (47) from IJsselstein is a busy man. He serves as chairman of the Federation of Islamic Organizations in the Netherlands (FION), the National Muslim Organizations (LMO), the Council of Moroccan Mosques in the Netherlands (RMMN), and the charitable organizations Europe Trust Nederland and Maroc Relief. Until recently he was a government partner as chairman of the Contact Groep Islam (CGI). Bouyafa also heads the mosque where he lives, has a media company, is board-member of the Dutch Muslim Council.
Bouyafa has an incredible network spanning the whole of the Netherlands and as such is one of the most influential people in the muslim diaspora in the Netherlands. And today the Volkskrant revealed (NL) that Bouyafa is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Esther has the translation of the Volkskrant article here. Bouyafa obviously denies his membership, but according to Harvard researcher Lorenzo Vidino this is par for the course:
“The European Muslim Brotherhood doesn’t have any formal structure, there are no membership records.” But there is interaction and financial support between branches.
Vidino describes the European MB-network as an “Islamic jet-set”, which consists of a few hundred successful Muslims. There are linked by marriages, old friendships, business relationships and the MB ideology. Their names appear in countless interest clubs.
“Not all Muslim Brothers are recognizable as such,” says an AIVD report from October 2007. According to the intelligence service the Brothers try to build good relations with Western politicians, journalists and the social mid-field. They set themselves up this way as though they look after wide-ranging interests and are legitimate spokespeople for the Islamic community. With the final goal – but this is not publicly proclaimed – to create an ultra-orthodox Islamic pillar in Western Europe.
Mr. Bouyafa is now planning to give the MB a voice on Dutch public television. After the demise of the two muslim broadcasters enriching Dutch state TV last October, a new muslim broadcaster, SMO, is about to enter the system. Any guesses who is a prominent board member?
The plot is hatching, it seems.
[UPDATE001] The webmaster of the NL blog Nieuw Religieus Peil points out that Bouyafa has also gained some notoriety through his publishing house ‘Noer Alim’. This publisher carries titles by the likes of Ali Tantawi, author of the infamous Introduction to Islam and Hassan al Banna and Yusuf al Qaradawi, the founder and spiritual leader of the MB, respectively. The latter in recent days made headlines with his sermon on the evils of Christmas, posted below.
[UPDATE002] Via Twitter, reader Etna Yoj points us to an article by Carel Brendel (NL), linking Amsterdam borough council leader (and labour PvdA’s next big star) Achmed Marcouch to Bouyafa and the FION. of which Marcouch’s brother was treasurer for a number of years. Evidently, earlier this year Achmed Marcouch sang the praises of al Qaradawi as ‘ a pope for muslims’, who is preaching that ‘European muslims ought to be good democratic citizens’. Doesn’t really square with the video above, does it?
Anyway, it seems that with the outing of Bouyafa, the accusations in the direction of Achmed Marcouch with regard to his rather overt sympathies to the MB are back in the glaring light of day. Whether that will change anything in Amsterdam, the PvdA or Dutch politics in general is of course and unfortunately another question entirely…
BTW, Lorenzo Vidino, quoted above, warned us two years ago already about the Brotherhoods growing influence in the Netherlands.