The Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party is in a curious position.
The German political party known for its program to fight the spread of Islamic extremism is defending Qatar, a country that funds Islamic extremism in Europe.
The problem of political Islam is one of the most important factors contributing to the electoral success of the AfD in Germany in 2017 and 2021.
On Tuesday, AFD co-leader, Tino Chrupalla, expressed sympathetic words for Qatar. This comes as the country hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup is facing criticism for its dismal record on human rights, LGBTQ+ rights, the status of women, and the condition of migrant workers.
“The World Cup serves to promote understanding between peoples and must not be politicized,” said Chrupalla on Twitter after a meeting with Qatar’s ambassador to Germany, Abdulla Mohammed Al Thani.
Qatar Funds Islamic Extremism in Western Countries
A new report published by the British think tank Policy Exchange puts the spotlight on how Qatar actively promotes Islamist ideas in Western countries.
Written by former British Ambassador to Qatar, Sir Simon Jenkins, the report argues Qatar’s objective is to spread a fundamentalist form of Islam in Western countries.
According to the report, Qatar spends significant money – “unaccountable and often disguised” – to support islamist groups in the US, Britain and Europe. The money, which is also used to shape press reporting, and “to build influence within parliamentary and other official circles”, is “sometimes delivered in carrier bags”.
Qatar Charity UK (QCUK), which is financed by Qatar, and was officially renamed as the Nectar Trust in October 2017, funds the development of Islamic community centres and schools in Britain, such as the Emaan Islamic Center in Sheffield, which reportedly received millions in funding.
Jenkin’s report finds the Nectar Trust’s description of the Emaan Trust’s Islamic Centre as promoting “positive integration” to be “questionable.” The facilities function to keep Muslim communities regrouped among themselves in parallel societies, with little reason to integrate with their non-muslim neighbours.
“The local Muslim population’s use of their own separate facilities – including a full-time school, a nursery, a gym, a restaurant, a multi-purpose hall, and a creche – may provide Muslims with less incentive to use local public facilities and to interact with non-Muslims in their community,” the report argues.
One of the recent trustees of the Emaan Trust is Ahmed Al-Rawi’s, a key figure in British Islamist circles who has been described by Ian Johnson in 2010 as “a driving force behind the [Muslim] Brotherhood in Britain and Europe for thirty years.”
The report investigates the founding chairman and chief executive of QCUK, a Qatari official, Yousuf Al-Kuwari. Jenkins writes that Al-Kuwari founded the website Islamweb, which published fatwas stating that it is “forbidden” to swear an oath to obtain British citizenship. The website also published warnings to its Muslim readers against befriending Jews and Christians. One statement reads “It is incumbent to hate them for the sake of Allah.”
Islamic Fundamentalism in Europe: A Real Problem
The spread of Islamic fundamentalism has become a problem of major concern in Europe, notably in France, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands, representing a serious threat to social cohesion and political order.
The citizen movement, Pax Europa, and German political activist Michael Stürzenberger, are known for their work on creating public awareness about the dangers of the increasing spread of political Islam in the democratic societies of Germany and Europe.
Qatar Bought the World Cup?
There are well-documented reports of bribery on Qatar’s bid for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in 2016. In the book, “The Ugly Game”, the Sunday Times Insight team journalists, Heidi Blake and Jonathan Calvert, report how Qatar’s top soccer official, Mohamed Bin Hammam, used his position to help secure the votes that Qatar needed to win the bid. The investigation which was originally published in 2014 in a series of articles in the Sunday Times UK. Based on millions of secret documents leaked by a whistleblower, Blake and Calvert found evidence of cash handouts, lavish junkets, and evidence of payments to soccer officials around the world.
The FIFA executive committee member, Muhammad al Hammam, was subsequently banned by FIFA from football administration for life.
Recently, German media ARD, report-München and Die Zeit reported on secretive Qatari funding activities in Europe in a multi-part podcast titled, Katar.Geld.Macht (Qatar.Money.Power) on Apple Podcasts. There is also a filmed documentary series titled WM der Schande (Qatar – World Cup of Shame).
Disagreements About Qatar Within the AfD
Qatar remains a controversial subject within the AfD. The deputy chairwoman of the AfD parliamentary group, Beatrix von Storch, accused the federal government of doing little about the financing of mosque associations by Qatar. Von Storch criticized the German Minister of Interior, Nancy Faeser, for being “blind on the Islamist eye and making efforts to become even more blind, although constitutional protection officers have been warning of the spread of political Islam for years.”
The sports policy spokesman for the AfD parliamentary group, Jörg Schneider, had also sharply criticized the World Cup award to Qatar, calling it “highly dubious and worthy of criticism”. Schneider called for “every form of protest and boycott” and said he would not watch the World Cup himself.