Sunday, February 27, 2011

Radical Dawah online in Greece, by Andreas Banoutsos

Dawah in Islamic theology means the invitation of both Muslims and non-Muslims to understand the worship of Allah as expressed in the Koran and the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad. According to a very interesting report(1), published by the Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service(AIVD) in 2007, radical dawah “ refers to the activities of Islamic missionary organizations, mosques and preachers imparting a radical, ultra-orthodox message. These movements are described as ultra-orthodox because they are highly rigid in their theological interpretations and resist all forms of religious modernity.Their radicalism lies in the fact that they want to fundamentally reform society and in doing so they reject the Western democratic legal order.”

Their message is peaceful and there is no threat of violence, however in the long term this message can gradually harm social cohesion, undermine certain fundamental human rights and subvert the Western democratic legal order. Radical dawah movements have been active in Western Europe since the 1960s primarily in Germany, France and the United Kingdom. In Greece respectively, radical dawah movements have started to be active more recently.

In this article I will examine the radical dawah activity of an Athens based Muslim Association named “El-Rahman” which runs the website. The association allegedly numbers 1,500 members, mainly Greek converts to Islam. The founder and President of the association is Mohi Eldin Ahmed Ali. However, the brain of the association is his son Ahmed Eldin who serves as vice-president. Ahmed Eldin studied Islamic Theology in Cairo-Egypt as well as public relations and journalism in a private college. He is actively propagating Islam since 2003 and he was the one who had the idea to transfer the radical dawa activity online in order to exploit the great advantages of the Internet.

In early February 2011 two Greek converts to Islam (Abu Jassir and Hamza) who are following the Salafi-Wahhabi strand of Islam joined Ahmed Eldin in the website. Abu Jassir and Hamza, (before joining Ahmed Eldin), in partnership with Abu Alia another Greek convert to Islam were propagating the Wahhabi strand of Islam via the YouTube.(2) Moreover, Abu Alia according to a report from Radio Free Europe (3) was also actively propagating Wahhabi Islam in the Balkans. An international Wahhabi organization named “Poziv u Raj” (Invitation to Heaven) has launched a campaign in Bosnia-Herzegovina (March 2010) calling on non-Muslims to convert to Islam.

According to this report the above mentioned Wahhabi group has been organizing public lectures in Bosnian cities and towns. At one lecture, a Greek convert to Islam named Efstathios Tsionis, claimed that “60 percent of Bosnians do not pray, 70 percent of the women do not cover themselves and 90 percent of Bosnians drink alcohol.” It is important to note here that Efstathios Tsionis was the Christian name of Abu Alia. Wahhabism is an extremist, puritanical and intolerant strand of Islam which is the official state religion of Saudi Arabia. Since the 1960s Wahhabism fueled with Saudi money has spread all over the world. Osama bin Laden, the leader of Al-Qaeda, a Saudi himself is considered to be an advocate of a more militant form of Wahhabism known as neo-Wahhabism.

Central to Wahhabism is the concept of Tawhid, the doctrine of the Oneness of God. Ahmed Eldin in 2007 wrote a book “God, One and Unique or One and Trinitarian”, in which he defends Islamic monotheism (Tawhid) and compares it with the Christian doctrine of Holy Trinity. In his website he also propagates the importance of Tawhid as the Alpha and Omega of Islam.(4) website is especially designed to appeal (in Greek language) to Greek converts to Islam and has also a page on Facebook and a channel on YouTube called Greek Dawah in Athens. The fact that this website is designed to appeal to Greek converts to Islam makes his preaching even more dangerous because much of the Wahhabi literature is designed to appeal specifically at “new Muslims” (Muslims dislike the term “convert”). Furthermore, Ahmed Eldin states that in his website is trying to defend Islam from misconceptions and distortions. However in his effort to defend his religion, he is using controversial sources like a statement from the extreme-right activist and denier of the Holocaust Costas Plevris. (5) Costas Plevris stated that “Islamism is philhellenism” and Ahmed Eldin argued that Islam is a friendly religion to Greek people. The coalition between various forms of Islamism and the extreme-right is not a surprise and goes back to World War II when the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Al Husseini and Adolf Hitler cooperated in order to exterminate the Jews.(6) In conclusion, in this article I tried to expose the radical dawah activity conducted online via the Salafi-Wahhabi website This activity despite the fact that remains nonviolent can eventually radicalize Greek converts to Islam with the potential to result in terrorist violence as the experience from other countries of Western Europe has shown to us. However, even if this radicalization will not result into violent extremism, it still poses a long term threat to the Greek democratic legal order, since Salafis-Wahhabis desire to impose a separate form of justice, with ultra-orthodox Islamic laws taking precedence over Greek or Western law.

(1) The Radical Dawah in Transition: The Rise of Islamic neoradicalism in the Netherlands, AIVD, 2007. Available from:
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