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Senator Ted Cruz, Rep. Louie Gohmert Push for Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation

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Last week, the United States Congress held a session to debate designating the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) – referred to as Ikhwan in Arabic — a foreign terrorist organization (FTO).

The Trump administration is currently weighing the possibility of designating the Brotherhood, which is already designated in its country of origin (Egypt) and elsewhere in the Arab world (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Syria, and even Russia). News of this broke in April following President Trump’s private meeting with Egyptian President Fattah el-Sisi.

The session was called by the chairman of the American Pulse foundation, Egyptian-American Dr. Michael Morgan, and led by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), who kicked off Thursday’s panel discussion.

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Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who has submitted legislation to Congress to place the Brotherhood on its terror list, addressed the audience by video broadcast during which he noted that he will soon submit an amended bill to Congress which will serve the same purpose. During his address, Cruz said that leaked information implicates former Democratic President Barack Obama and his administration for giving orders to delete or change the content of 800 documents related to Jihad, and specifically the Muslim Brotherhood.

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In 2015, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) introduced a bill that, if it had passed in Congress, would have led to the designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as an FTO.

In 2017, Congress introduced a similar bill, the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act of 2017, with the same objective.

Rep. Gohmert also accused the FBI of destroying documents during Obama’s presidency as a result of the infiltration of Muslim Brotherhood elements into his administration. Gohmert also affirmed the importance of designating the Brotherhood as an FTO.

In 2013, Judicial Watch released a report which revealed that the FBI scrubbed its law enforcement training material of any language that might be deemed “offensive” to Muslims. As such, hundreds of references to “Muslim,” “Islam” or “jihad” were removed from the 2004 9/11 commission report.

Through a FOIA request, the group was able to obtain detailed records of a meeting between FBI Director Robert Mueller and various Islamic organizations. Judicial Watch wrote, “During the February 8 meeting, Mueller reportedly assured the Islamic groups in attendance that the agency had ordered the removal of presentations and curricula on Islam from FBI offices around the country that were deemed “offensive.” As reported by NPR: “The FBI has completed a review of offensive training material and has purged 876 pages and 392 presentations, according to a briefing provided to lawmakers.”

On his own website, Cruz noted that Mr. Philip Haney, a retired Customs and Border Protection Officer for the Department of Homeland Security, revealed that the CIA, under Obama’s presidency, scrubbed over 800 law enforcement records that were connected to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Members of Congress and others interested in seeing the Muslim Brotherhood designation were also in attendance.

In addition to calling for the designation of the Brotherhood, conference participants also argued about the importance of investigating the group’s funding abroad which has led to the discovery of trails of funding to other terrorist organizations like the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, Daesh), Al Shabab, and Al Qaeda among others, and to investigate the trail of money to American NGOs that might be using taxpayer money to fund terrorist activities under the direction of the Brotherhood.

This month, the Department of Education launched an investigation into Georgetown University and Texas A&M University over their failure to disclose the amount of funding their have received from Qatar, which is home to the Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual leader Yusuf al Qaradawi.

The Department of Education requires that all post-secondary schools report foreign gifts of $250,000 or more from a single source within a calendar year of receiving them.

Although the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) has publicly scorned the Brotherhood as a “devastating cancer” for being menially devoted to Allah compared to them, “the Brotherhood has provided the platform used to indoctrinate young men into Islamism and a bridge for recruits to graduate into the more violent Islamism of ISIS,” according to the Islamic State’s own publication, Dabiq. The publication also notes how Factions within the groups have supported each other based on shared goals, common enemies, and support for a united Islamist front.

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Turkey Human Rights, Crackdown on Press Freedom Comes Under Renewed Scrutiny in Geneva

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Last week, the UK-based International Observatory of Human Rights (IOHR)and the Press Emblem Campaign held an information meeting in Geneva, to coincide with the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Turkey over hate crimes, minority, and LGBT rights, and press freedoms with a specific focus on the nation’s crackdown on these rights during the failed 2016 coup and the emergency rule that followed during which the government allegedly used its security powers to arrest thousands of people who opposed it.

Turkey’s human rights record was last reviewed in 2015 during the UPR. This was the third time in 10 years that Turkey’s record has come under review

Diplomats, minister, prominent members of Turkish media and human rights defenders – including those who have been forced into exile – were present at the event. Also in attendance was former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues in the Office of Global Criminal Justice Ambassador Stephen Rapp. Louise Pyne Jones, head of research, International Observatory of Human Rights (IOHR) moderated the event. Two panels were held. The first was called “Press Freedom” and included Yavuz Baydar, editor-in-chief of Ahval; Evin Baris Altintas, journalist and blogger; and Massimo Frigo; senior Legal Advisor for International Commission for Jurists (ICJ). The second panel, “Human Rights Defenders,” included Dr. Sebnem Korur Fincanci; president of the Human Rights Foundation in Turkey; Nurcan Baysal, award-winning Turkish Human Rights Defender and Journalist; and Anne van Wezel, former co-chair EESC EU-Turkey Joint Consultative Committee.

Following an attempted, and failed, “coup” against the ruling Justice and Development (AKP) Party in 2016, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused many of his opponents and naysayers, including journalists who were critical of him and his government, of supporting terrorism and prosecuted many of them. Erdogan also suggested that the attempted coup was the work of exiled Imam Fethullah Gulen and his movement, which Turkey considers a terrorist organization. Turkey has asked for the United States to extradite Gulen. Gulen has been living in the United States in a self-imposed exile since 1999. Over 250 people died as a result of the failed coup attempt.

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Soon after the coup, Turkey implemented a state of emergency (SOE) which it said: “was put into effect in order to ensure the continuity of effective implementation of the measures for the protection of the rights and freedoms of our citizens, democracy and the rule of law.” However, the AK Party’s critics have maintained that the AK Party used the umbrella of its broader emergency powers and continuously postponed ending that state of emergency, in an attempt to destroy its political opposition.

Many journalists were apprehended under this state of emergency until it was lifted on July 19, 2018. As such, for three straight years, and up until 2019, the Committee to Protect Journalists ranked Turkey as the worst jailer of journalists in the world. According to Turkish, English, and Arabic-language news site Ahval, when China jailed 48 journalists to Turkey’s 47.

Nurcan Baysal, an award-winning Kurdish Human Rights Defender, Journalist, and contributor to Ahval, said she was even cautious with the words she used on the panel discussion for fear of punishment by the Turkish government. “We are censoring ourselves because of these fears,” Baysal said. “For example, before coming here I asked myself if I should use certain words, should I use the word invasion, or should I use the word war, because today in Turkey even to say war is forbidden,” she said. “Everything that I say has an effect on not only my life but of the lives of my children and family.”

Ahval editor in chief Yavuz Baydar said, “No state or power can decide who is a journalist, it is the domain for professional organizations and should always be separate from power.”

According to the IOHR, “In the previous UPR cycle of Turkey, the Turkish government officially supported 14 recommendations related to strengthening the legal framework on freedom of expression and 5 recommendations specifically related to bringing terrorism legislation in line with international human rights standards.

Hugh Williamson, the Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch recently said, “The huge number of journalists, politicians, and perceived government critics in prison and on trial flies in the face of the Turkish government’s public statements about the state of human rights in the country “Turkey’s disregard of human rights is a disservice to its citizens, who deserve to live with dignity and freedom.”

Meanwhile, Turkey’s state-run pro-government newspaper the Daily Sabah put out propaganda about the Erdogan government writing, “U.N. Human Rights Council highlighted Turkey’s achievements in the fields of judiciary, human rights and humanitarian causes on Tuesday during a Universal Periodic Review (UPR) meeting in Geneva.”

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