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Anti-al Qaeda base envisioned

By Willis Witter

ICC Note

This article gives background information to radical Islam in Egypt and other Islamic States. It sheds light on the ideological basis of radical Muslims who use force to impose their belief on others.

September 26, 2007 Egypt (The Washington Times)-Exiled Egyptian cleric Ahmed Subhy Mansour, whose teachings have earned him dozens of death “fatwas” from fellow Muslim clerics, uses the English translation for al Qaeda — meaning “the base” — to describe a plan to defeat Osama bin Laden and other terrorists, who he says have seized control of Islam.

“Suppose you have here [in the United States ] a base to counter al Qaeda in the war of ideas?” Sheik Mansour asked during a recent luncheon at The Washington Times.

“You could convince a large number — millions of silent Muslims. We can convince them very easily that the real enemy is not the United States . It is not Israel . The real enemy is the dictators in the Muslim world and the culture of the Wahhabis and Muslim Brotherhood,” he said, referring to the dominant arbiters of Islamic orthodoxy in Saudi Arabia and Egypt respectively.

Sheik Mansour is the founder of a small Egyptian sect that is neither Sunni nor Shi”ite. They call themselves Quranists because they believe that the Koran represents the single authentic scripture of Islam. They especially anger Sunni Muslims by rejecting the Hadith and Sunna, purported sayings and traditions of the prophet Muhammad.

“Killing people just because they are not Muslims, they have a Hadith for this. To kill a Muslim like me after accusing him to be an ‘apostate,” they have a Hadith for this. To persecute the Jews, they have a Hadith for this.

“All this is garbage. It has nothing to do with Islam. It contradicts more than one-fourth of the Koranic verses,” Sheik Mansour said.

A former professor of Islamic history at Al-Azhar University in Cairo , he was expelled in 1987 as the Muslim equivalent of a “heretic” and was briefly imprisoned by Egyptian authorities. After subsequent waves of persecution, he finally fled Egypt just months after the September 11, 2001, attacks and received political asylum in the United States the next year.

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From exile in the United States , he continues to attack the Islam of bin Laden and the Wahhabi Islam of Saudi Arabia that gave birth to bin Laden”s beliefs. Sheik Mansour also attacks the Islamist vision of Egypt “s Muslim Brotherhood, a group that rejects violence but shares the goal of a theocratic nationhood under Shariah, or Islamic law.

Though illegal in Egypt , the Brotherhood is allowed to operate openly in an uneasy truce with the government. Police round up its members whenever it delves too publicly in politics — for example, by holding anti-government demonstrations. But the Brotherhood”s interpretation of Shariah provides a benchmark for Egyptian law, which is based primarily on Shariah.

“We are not against the people. We are against this culture that will produce more and more generations of fanaticism. We go to the core of this culture and prove that it contradicts the Koran,” Sheik Mansour said.

“Few Americans understand that the battle against terrorism is a war of ideas,” Sheik Mansour said. “It is a war that is very different from the military in its tactics, its strategy and its weapons.

“Suicide bombings are just one aspect of this war. They brainwash young men to blow themselves up, to kill randomly. Our mission is to convince him, to undeceive them, to convince them that what he is doing is against Islam. He will lose his life and lose his afterlife as well.”

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“We find Islam has the same values as the West: freedom, unlimited freedom of speech, justice, equality, loving, humanity, tolerance, mercy, everything. This is our version of Islam, and we argue that this is the core of Islam according to the Koran.”

He and his sons operate the Quranic Center in Northern Virginia , which includes an elaborate Internet site in Arabic and English. On its Web site at www.ahl-alquran.com, the organization is republishing dozens of Sheik Mansour”s books and hundreds of articles he has written over the years.

The campaign is not without risk. One can find a sampling of fatwas, or edicts by other Muslim scholars against the Quranists, including one saying, “We have issued our commands to the soldiers of God to worship God by pouring out their blood and burning their homes.”

Sheik Mansour said in response: “I do not care about my safety, but I do care about my persecuted people in Egypt .”

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Since arriving in the states, Sheik Mansour has held a number of academic posts. In 2002, he was a Reagan-Fascell Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington , where he wrote on the roots of democracy in Islam.

The next year, he received a visiting fellowship at Harvard Law School “s Human Rights Program.

He also briefly met Karen P. Hughes, the undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, last year in the office of Rep. Frank R. Wolf, Virginia Republican.The meeting, Sheik Mansour said, lasted for 10 minutes, barely enough for polite introductions.

“I said: ‘Please, let me sit down with you for more time. I have big plan,” ” he recalled. But there was no follow-up.

“We need official American help for our arrested people in Egypt ,” he said. “We don”t want money. We are talking about releasing our arrested people, saving the lives of scholars, bringing them to the U.S. , granting them asylum to help establish this new base for moderate Islam.”

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