The founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan al-Banna, whose disciples are now celebrating his birth 100 years ago, would have been ecstatic to witness their progress in implementing his vision to compel the world to submit to Islam. Radical Islam has made inroads in most countries with a Muslim majority, and reached supremacy in several countries Its influence is steadily growing in many Western nations. Petrodollars fuel this progress.
Indeed, the everyday consequences of adopting the Muslim Brotherhood's "Islam as a way of life" are felt in the United States and Western civilization in many ways. In many European countries, Islamists are staging demonstrations against legislators' actions to ban veils hiding the faces of Muslim women. While the legislators seek to increase public security, the Islamists protest that the ban violates their "religious freedom."
The Koran does not require that women wear a veil. Yet, the Doha-based spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Yousuf al-Qaradawi, claims that banning the veil "is a glaring violation of both Islamic teachings and relevant international charters of human rights which regard clothing as a matter of one's personal freedom."
Increasingly, Muslim restrictions on alcohol and dogs also effect Western non-Muslims: Somali cab drivers in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn., Pakistani minicab drivers in London, England, and Muslim taxi drivers in Melbourne, Australia, refused to transport blind passengers with guide-dogs only after the Saudi religious police issued a ban on dogs. They also refuse passengers suspected of carrying duty-free sealed alcohol bottles to avoid "cooperating in sin," emulating Iran's president Mahmoud Ahamadinejad's well-publicized refusal to attend a lunch at the United Nations in New York because alcohol was served.
The executive director of the Somali Justice Advocacy Center in Minneapolis, Omar Jamal, complained that the fatwa by the Muslim American Society (MAS) — which was established by the Muslim Brotherhood and is said to receive funding from the Saudis — has "a political agenda, and they want to hijack the faith of Islam." According to Jamal, MAS is "looking for an issue to get Muslims to rally behind to drive a wedge in the community between Muslims and non-Muslims."
In Melbourne, Australia, the Victorian Taxi Association spokesman Neil Sach's reaction was even more telling. "Muslims are good people and the community has to realise that the days of the white Anglo-Saxon Protestant are well and truly over," he concluded.
He may be right. The petrodollar-backed Islamists are on a fast track to subvert democracies from within. With the best PR money can buy, they use media and communication outlets to popularize and legitimize the Islamist agenda, while deceiving the public as to its very nature. Under the guise of personal freedom, so cherished in the West, they introduce conservative Muslim restrictions on private and public life.
The Qatar-based Al Jazeera, the major platform for bin Laden and other Islamist messages worldwide, began its English-language broadcasting unit Al-Jazeera English (AJE) this month. It is aimed at more than a billion English speakers, Muslim and non-Muslim, on five continents on TV screens, radio and the Internet.
To attract viewers, owner Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani has spared no expense. He has hired big-name broadcaster David Frost for millions of pounds sterling, and unlike most American news networks, also pays handsomely for interviews.
Middle East petrodollars also pay hefty retainers to former diplomats to influence public opinion and lobby for change in public policy and laws. Their money buys them the best: former ambassadors to Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries, such as Robert Jordan of Baker Botts LLP; Edward Walker, president of Middle East Institute; and Charles Freeman Jr., president of the Saudi-backed Middle East Policy Council, give their paymasters their money's worth in Washington.
And the lure according to former Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan, attracts "much better friends ... who are just coming into office." For example, a former board member of Chevron — whose partners include Saudi ARAMCO and MOTIVA Enterprises, which owns and operates portions of at least 17 U.S. ports is U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
The Saudis are also at the forefront of the internationalization of Islamic banking. In 1992, following pressure from religious leaders, King Fahd established the Consultative Council, which aligned Saudi laws with Shariah, and expanded Islamic banks in Saudi Arabia. With the exponential growth in Saudi oil wealth and the growing influence of petrodollars in Western markets, the Saudis also successfully promoted interest in Islamic banking worldwide.
Not coincidentally, Islamic banking emerged in the 1920s in Egypt, simultaneous with the establishment of the Muslim Brotherhood. According to Timur Kuran, in Islam and Mammon, The Economic Predicaments of Islamism: "Ceding Islamists a monopoly over the interpretation of Islam's economic requirements, [public reticence to question it] has enabled them to determine which economic behaviors and approaches are properly Islamic and which are to be resisted as dangerously unIslamic."
This development has introduced Shariah into the otherwise entirely secular U.S. financial market, thereby effectively establishing a two-tier banking system. Moreover, since Islamic law prohibits interest payments, Islamic banks instead effectively pay and collect interest as part of the "principal." By its very nature, this practice enables Islamic banks and their clients to more easily transfer money under regulators' radar, bringing al-Banna's vision of Islamic domination one step closer to reality.
Rachel Ehrenfeld is Director of American Center for Democracy and a member of the Committee on the Present Danger. Alyssa A. Lappen is a senior fellow at the ACD.
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