Of course, this youth organization has an Instagram feed – every youth organization (short of Mormons) has an Instagram feed. FEMYSO’s – the Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organizations – posts a curious mix of campaigning and political activity, for example at the recent European Youth Event held by the European Parliament in Brussels, alongside motivational posts to encourage devotion to Ramadan – and even the Instagram-obligatory beach sunset, this time with a prayer mat and Quran verse in the caption.
But make no mistake: this is no ordinary youth organization.
FEMYSO is deeply entrenched in the notorious Muslim Brotherhood, the extremist sympathizers and radical Islamists often linked to al-Qaida. Its delegation to Brussels may have been heaving with young women in colorful headscarves and the entire delegation wearing T-shirts proclaiming its mission, “Working for a diverse, cohesive & vibrant Europe”, but FEMYSO is a hot bed of discrimination, bias and hate.
Terrorism expert Gabriel Tabarani wrote in his book: “While FEMYSO claims it is committed to fight prejudices at each and every level so that the ‘future of Europe is multicultural, inclusive and based on respect’, such statement are meaningless and devoid of sincerity in the light of the discourse of some of its sponsors, such as the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, which has stated that ‘[…] every tragedy that affect Muslim people is caused by Jews’.”
Homophobia is just as rife at FEMYSO: in 2012, French member organization UIOF (since renamed Musulmans de France, or Muslims of France) publicly warned against a risk of zoophilia should same-sex marriage be legalized.
FEMYSO’s main sponsor remains the Muslim Brotherhood.
FEMYSO’ president is Youssef Himmat, the son of prominent Muslim Brotherhood member Ali Ghaleb Himmat, a subject of several terrorism investigations and a continuing suspect in terrorism cases in Somalia. Youssef Himmat is also the secretary of Lugano-based Lord Energy SA, a financing front for the Muslim Brotherhood which deals in oil exports from Libya and Algeria. The company was founded by Hazim Nada, the son Youssef Nada – who was described as the “foreign minister of the Muslim Brotherhood” by US security agencies.
FEMYSO’s links to the Brotherhood go far and wide: its head of communications is Esed Ivojevic, who on his Facebook page shows support for Muslim Brotherhood founder and notorious anti-Semitic Hasan Al-Banna. FEMYSO director of training and events Nadia Bouzekri is also the president of Young Muslims of Italy, an organization ideologically close to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Even if FEMYSO lives up to its T-shirt slogan of working towards an inclusive and tolerant Europe, its reliance on sponsors from the Middle East makes it vulnerable. Homophobia, extremism and anti-Semitism are rife within FEMYSO member organizations across Europe. Its German division called for war against the United States in 2000; Musulmans de France was in 2016 forced to cancel three homophobic and extremist speakers at its annual conference following pressure from the French interior minister.
Another FEMYSO member, FOSIS, has been criticized by British prime minister Theresa may for its closeness to prominent Islamic figures who promote terrorism, such as Azzam Tamimi and Abu Hasan Navdi.
And only this year, Swedish authorities accused FEMYSO member Sveriges Unga Muslimer of promoting an extremist ideology and jihad in Syria within the IS forces, according to daily Aftonbladet.
The T-shirt slogans and prayer mats and sunset paint a picture of a peaceful, “woke” organization of bright young things. But extremism, homophobia and anti-Semitism are rife with the EU-funded FEMYSO.