Iranian regime runs a large number of Islamic centers and Mosques in Europe that disseminate its fundamentalist ideology and generate grassroots support for its radical foreign policy. These centers provide Iran with a recruiting pool for the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force or other Iranian Institutions responsible for terrorism or military activities abroad.
On April 30, 2018, the German President hosted a meeting with a delegation from “the Islamic Association of Shiite Congregations in Germany “ (IGS), an umbrella organization created and controlled by the Iranian regime that covers a large number of Mosques and Islamic center in Germany.
The chairman of IGS’s “scholar board” is the Iranian cleric Reza Ramezani, the head of the Islamic Center in Hamburg (IZH) who is currently a member of Iran’s “Assembly of Experts” and according to government press in Tehran and the German newspaper Bild, “is the representative of Iran Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in Germany.”
German officials maintain a friendly relation with IGS and Sigmar Gabriel, the vice chancellor of Germany has been a regular guest at IGS public events.
These high-level relations illustrate the Iranian regime’s success to establish a strong presence in Germany while pursuing an extremist agenda at the heart of Europe. A revealing example is the annual Quds day rally that is organized by IGS and the Islamic center of Hamburg. An event designed to fuel anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli hatred and help the Iranian regime present itself as the champion of the Palestinian cause and the leader of the Islamic world.
The Iranian regime has followed the same pattern in other European countries and has created an extensive web of Islamic centers and Mosques. These centers disseminate the Iranian regime’s fundamentalist ideology and generate grassroots support for its radical foreign policy. They also provide Iran with a recruiting pool for the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force or other Iranian Institutions responsible for terrorism or military activities abroad.
There are several Iranian institutions and organization involved in exporting clerical regime’s fundamentalist ideology to Europe, on top of them, the “Islamic Culture and Relations Organization” (ICRO) the Al-Mustafa International University which trains foreign clerics and missionaries around the world. In this report, the Iranian regime’s “Islamic” networks in Germany and Great Britain are examined.
1. Islamic Culture and Relations Organization (ICRO)
In January 1995, Iranian regime created a new umbrella organization in the Iranian ministry of culture and Islamic Guidance called: “Islamic Culture and Relations Organization” (ICRO) to coordinate the activities of various organizations responsible for religious and cultural activities abroad. The main organizations that are operating under the ICRO are the followings:
2. The Ahl al-Bayt World Assembly promotes Shiism and is responsible for relations with Shiites around the world.
3. The World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought is responsible for relations with non-Shiite Muslims around the world.
4. The Islamic Development Organization (IDO) which in Farsi translates as the Islamic Propaganda Organization. IDO publishes religious and propaganda materials and sends religious missionaries to foreign countries.
5. The Qom Seminary Office of Islamic Propaganda involved in sending missionaries and clerics abroad.
6. The Foreign Affairs Department of the Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry that operates the cultural attachés in the Iranian embassies abroad. These offices provide an essential venue for the ICRO to pursue its cultural and religious activities in European countries.
7. The Center for Interreligious Dialogue & Civilization (CID), is involved in holding philosophical, legal, social, political and cultural dialogue with regional and international religious figures and institutions as well as with religious minorities inside and outside Iran.
Al-Mustafa international university is Iran’s most important “religious” institutions responsible for the export of regime’s ideology. Founded in 2007, Al-Mustafa trains foreign clerics, scholars, and missionaries. Its main campuses are in Iran and have more than one hundred branches around the world. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is the highest authority of Al-Mustafa University.
Al-Mustafa has over 40.000 students, half of them studying in University campuses in Iran. There are nearly 10.000 female students. Since 2007, nearly 45.000 clerics and Islamic scholars have graduated from Al-Mustafa, a good portion of them have been hired by the university as teaching staff or missionaries sent to different countries around the globe.
Iranian regime runs a vast network of Mosques and Islamic centers in Germany targeting Muslim community composed mainly of Turkish and in some areas, Middle Eastern immigrants. The main Iranian organization involved in coordinating the activities of these Islamic centers is the “Islamic Culture and Relations Organization” (ICRO).
Mehdi Imanpour, the head of the cultural attachés in the Iranian embassy in Berlin represents ICRO and directs these activities in Germany.
Islamic Center in Hamburg
Tehran’s most important Islamic organization in Germany is the Islamic Center in Hamburg (IZH) led by cleric Reza Ramezani who according to government press in Tehran and the German newspaper Bild, “is the representative of Iran Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in Germany.” The center has also the Imam Ali Mosque at the same location.
On March 11, 2015, Ramezani spoke during a session of Iran’s Assembly of Experts and emphasized the importance of supporting the Supreme Leader and the system of Velayate Faghih.
Ramezani is a member of Iranian regime elite. He is currently a member of Iran’s “Assembly of Experts” from the northern province of Gilan. All candidates to the Assembly of Experts must be approved by the Guardian Council whose members are, in turn, appointed either directly or indirectly by the Supreme Leader.
Recently in February 2018 he Visited the city of Qom and met with regime’s grand Ayatollahs tp receive guidance for the activities of the center.
Each year in February, the Hamburg center and Iranian embassy organize an event at the Center to celebrates the anniversary of Islamic Revolution in Iran and in June organizes a conference commemorating the death anniversary of Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic in Iran. Imams and clerics of Islamic centers from different European countries participate in the conference to praise Khomeini and Iranian regime’s ideology.
The Hamburg center has also a Shiite seminary called the “Islamische Academie Deutschland”, (IAD) which is affiliated to the Seminary of Qom in Iran. The seminary has nearly 50 students is in a building next to the Mosque and Hamburg center. Iranian cleric Hamidreza Torabi is the head of Hamburg seminary.
He is a leading figure in Iran-sponsored annual Quds Day rally in Berlin. This is the Seminary’s Facebook page. This is the ceremony of Seminary’s new academic year.
The Islamic Association of Shiite Congregations in Germany (IGS)
The Islamic center in Hamburg plays a pivotal role in expanding Iranian regime’s influence and promoting its ideology in Germany. In 2009, the center created an umbrella organization called “the Islamic Association of Shiite Congregations in Germany” (IGS). According to Fars News, a news website tied to Iran Revolutionary Guards. “the IGS is largest Shiites organization in Germany with 500.000 members. 152 Mosques and Islamic centers representing muslin immigrants from different countries work with IGS.”
The head of IGS is the Iranian cleric Mahmoud Khalil Zadeh who is the Imam of Islamic Center in Frankfurt. The chairman of IGS’s “scholar board” is cleric Reza Ramezani, the Imam of Islamic Center in Hamburg.
From left, Mehdi Imanipour, Iranian cultural attaché in Germany, Reza Ramezani head of Hamburg center and chairman of IGS’s “scholar board”, Mahmoud Khalilzadeh (head of IGS) and Dawood Nazirizadeh an active board member of IGS
A report by the cultural attaché of the Iranian embassy in Germany about a religious event co-organized by IGS and Iranian embassy posted on Iranian embassy website.
Quds Day Rally in Germany
IGS is the main organizer of annual anti-Semitic Al Quds Day rally in Berlin, a global event sponsored by the Iranian regime. Below is the official flyer for the 2018 Quds Day rally posted on IGS website:
According to Foundation for Defense of Democracies, “the Iranian regime-owned Islamic Center of Hamburg charters buses with the Iranian regime and Hezbollah supporters to travel to Berlin to march in the al-Quds Day rally.”
Al Mustafa Berlin
Al-Mustafa University opened its branch in Berlin in 2016 which is called “Al-Mustafa Institute” and is led by Mehdi Esfahani. The school is working closely with the Hamburg seminary and has a Facebook page.
Islamic College of London
Al Mustafa has several branches in European countries, the most important is in London called “the Islamic College”. The College was founded in 1998 but in 2008 came under Al Mustafa management and changed its name to Islamic College. The graduates will become Islamic scholars. In 2014, Islamic college moved to its new building’
Seminary of London
Al Mustafa has also a traditional seminary called “The Hawza Ilmiyya of England”, which according to its director has 90 students.
The Islamic Center of England
The Seminary is a joint project by Islamic College and the Iranian regime-controlled “Islamic center of England” located in London. The Center was founded in 2008 and is Iran’s most active center in Britain which coordinates the activities of other Mosques and Islamic centers across Europe. Iranian cleric Mohammad Ali Shomali is the head of the center. He is the representative of Iran Supreme Leader in England.
Iran has several other Islamic Centers in Britain, like the Center in Manchester, the Islamic Center of Newcastle, in Birmingham and the Center in Glasgow.
The Iranian regime has also created an organization called “Ahlulbayt Islamic Mission” (AIM) which is very active and collaborates with other Iranian-run centers and mosques in England. It runs the annual Youth camp for young Muslims and organizes various conferences and religious events. Each year AIM hosts Imam Khomeini Conference which is held at the Islamic Center of England. Some of AIM’s religious programs are held at “the Muhammadi Trust” in London.
Islamic Human Rights Commission
One of Tehran’s most active organizations in Britain is “The Islamic Human Rights Commission” (IHRC) led by Massoud Shajareh. This organization collaborates with various centers and mosques related to Iran and works with other British organizations like the “Stop the War Coalition” to carry out projects and hold events aimed designed to advance Tehran’s agenda.
Recently, IHRC held the “Future of Palestine Seminar” in January 2018 in collaboration with other organizations. IHRC’s most important project is the organization of annual “Al-Quds Day Rally” in London.
The Iranian regime has also created “InMinds” a so-called human rights organization focused on denouncing Israel. This organization collaborates closely with IHRC and several ‘left” and anti-Israeli groups organizes anti-Israeli events and is very active in BDS movement.
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