Prominent US imam withdraws from convention over UAE's 'dangerous' targeting of Muslim organisations

Prominent US imam withdraws from convention over UAE's 'dangerous' targeting of Muslim organisations
Imam Khalid Latif said he would not be taking part in this year's Reviving the Islamic Spirit conference in Toronto over actions taken by the UAE against Muslim organisations.
3 min read
01 December, 2020
Imam Khalid Latif announced the move on Facebook [Getty]
A prominent American Muslim imam announced his withdrawal from a conference over in protest against the UAE, which he accuses of targeting several Muslim organisations, including the Muslim Brotherhood.

Imam Khalid Latif, the first Muslim chaplain at New York University and second to serve as a chaplain in the NYPD,  said he would not be taking part in the annual "Reviving the Islamic Spirit" conference in Toronto this year due to the participation of a UAE-backed Sheikh Bin Bayyah.

"Over the last few years, there have been a lot of dangerous positions from UAE-based councils that have named individual Muslim leaders and organisations like ISNA, Islamic Relief, and CAIR as being linked to terrorism," Latif said in a Facebook post announcing the move.

"The most recent fatwa that Shaykh Bin Bayyah's UAE Council issued deeming the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation simply adds to an already problematic geopolitical agenda. 

"That agenda seemingly has no qualms in assisting in the development of iniquitous policy in countries throughout the world that will disrupt the lives of so many people and justify the oppression of that many more all in the pursuit of power retention," he added.

The move comes just days after the UAE branded the Muslim Brotherhood a "terrorist" organisation.

The UAE Fatwa Council, the country's highest religious authority, announced the move in a virtual meeting led by bin Bayyah just months after a similar decision by Saudi Arabia.

The council also warned Muslims to stay away from groups that "work to divide the ranks and inflame discord and bloodshed", UAE news agency WAM reported.

"It is not permissible to pledge allegiance to anyone other than the ruler," the statement added, saying all residents should show "respect and commitment" to leaders.

Saudi Arabia earlier this year took similar action against the Muslim Brotherhood, which was established in Egypt in 1928.

The Muslim Brotherhood is a "violent terrorist group" that "does not represent Islam", Saudi Arabia's Council of Senior Scholars alleged.

The Saudi authority accused the group of being "a deviant that attacks rulers, stirs up discord, and uses the cover of religion to practice violence and terrorism", without disclosing further details.

The coordinated move against the Islamist movement was widely condemned in a statement by global Islamic scholars who called on Saudi Arabia to reconsider its position.

The group of 18 Muslim scholar associations called for unity among Muslims and said the discourse of scholars should not be politicised, Arabi21 reported earlier this month.

Read also: Islamic scholars call on Saudi council to review Muslim Brotherhood 'terrorist' designation

In a joint statement, religious scholar associations from Sudan, Libya, Lebanon, Palestine and other countries backed the Muslim Brotherhood as "defenders" of Islam.

"The Muslim Brotherhood is a missionary group… including a large number of scholars, preachers and Mujahideen have joined the effort to defend the doctrine of Islam and its Sharia," the associations said.

Talat Fehmi, a spokesperson for the Muslim Brotherhood, told Anadolu Agency that the organisation denies all accusations made by the council.

"The Brotherhood ... is far from violence, terror and tearing apart the ummah. Since its establishment, it has been calling people to Allah with good advice," Fehmi said.

The Brotherhood was blacklisted by Egyptian authorities in 2013 after the ouster of Mohamed Morsi - Egypt’s first democratically elected president - in a military coup led by current President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Earlier in May, Saudi Arabia officially blacklisted the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation.

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