The latest interview in my “Muslims Against Islamists” series is with Edip Yuksel, a Turkish Islamic reformist who contacted me after reading an article of mine about Muslims of the Americas/Jamaat ul-Fuqra. The group murdered his mentor, Rashad Khalifa, and he was shocked to learn that the group is still around. He is a harsh critic of Western foreign policy and especially Israel, but advocates Islamic reform including separation of mosque and state.
Here is an excerpt:
Being the son of a prominent radical religious figure in Turkey and the brother of a legendary Islamist youth leader, Metin Yüksel, I was raised in a highly political and religious environment. I was dreaming of a theocratic revolution in Turkey and was inspired by the Egyptian founder of Ikhwan-i Muslimin (Muslim Brotherhood) Hasan al Banna, Sayid Qutb, Abul A’la al Mawdudi, Said Hawwa, and later by Fethi Yeken, Ali Shariati, Sayid Muhammad al-Sadr, Rashid al-Ghannouchi, and other Salafi authors.
Both overtly and covertly, I established relationships with Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (Pasdaran), Hizbi-e-Islami of Afghanistan and Hizbut-Tahrir of Iraq. As a young Islamist leader, one year after the revolution, I was secretly invited to Iran and met top ranking mullahs and political leaders, including the head of Pasdaran in their headquarters in northern Tehran. I also personally met the Ghulbeddin Hekmatyar, the brutal leader of Hizbi-e-İslami of Afghanistan and supported them through our members and money.
I had zeal, charisma, courage and plenty of stupidity. We were going to cause a revolution in the country. We had enough of the rule of a secular, oppressive government and its ally, the Great Satan, the U.S.A. We were going to have an Islamic government that would bring economic and political justice, freedom and peace.