A Salafist Center in the Heart of Budapest

Hungarian activists are fighting to block the opening of an “Islamic Cultural Center” in the heart of Budapest. The most recent news is that the municipal government is trying to redeem the building from its Arab owner — who had purchased it from the same municipality. They have also asked the Interior Ministry to check into the Islamic organization that owns it.

The proposed cultural center — what I would call a mega-mosque — happens to be located a short distance from the National Jewish University, a rabbinical seminary. If the mosque is ever completed, its Jewish neighbors will undoubtedly be required to exercise extreme vigilance every Friday after prayers.

Below are excerpts from two posts about the proposed mosque from the Hungarian blog Periszkóp. First, from September 1:

Budapest: Huge Islamic Cultural Centre with al-Qaeda Ties is to be Opened Near the University of Jewish Studies

A Muslim prayer house and cultural centre is to be opened in the eighth district of Budapest, Gutenberg square 1. The building is located opposite the Budapest University of Jewish Studies, a rabbinical seminary.

The property was bought by a private individual at auction in 2014, for 30 million HUF, but the cultural center will be run by the Charity Peace Foundation — a religious and educational foundation representing adherents of the Muslim faith in Hungary — atv.hu, BBJ wrote.

However, the Charity Peace Foundation is known not only for its vibrant cultural activity. The management of the organisation was suspected previously of illegal arms-trafficking and ties to different terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda.

Tayseer Saleh, the “Palestinian Dentist”

The president of the board of trustees of the foundation, Tayseer Saleh, a “Palestinian” dentist settled in Hungary, was detained by Hungarian authorities in 2004 on suspicion of planning attack against a Jewish museum. (Jihad Watch) Tayseer was accused of having arranged in 2003 for someone to obtain explosives to be used by a third person to blow up a Jewish museum in Budapest. He was taken into custody in April 2004, a few hours before the official visit of Moshe Katsav, then president of Israel.

Tayseer, who is also head of a Muslim congregation in Budapest, has spent two months in detention. However, he was released in June 2004 due to insufficient evidence. Later he sued the Hungarian state, demanding 30 million forints in compensation. In 2008 June he was awarded two million forints (8,300 euros, 12,000 dollars) by a Budapest court. (EuroJewCong)

However, “lack of proof” is not everything, as György Léderer wrote in Countering Islamist Radicals In Eastern Europe

Tensions are even sharper between Zoltan Bolek’s Hungarian Islamic Community (mostly converts) on the one hand and Zoltan Sulok’s much less pro-western Church of the Muslims of Hungary (with a majority of immigrants) and particularly the overtly anti-western and Judeophobic Tayseer Saleh’s Dar as-Salam mosque community on the other. In March 2004 Palestinian-born Tayseer had been arrested and accused of plotting to bomb a Budapest Jewish museum but he was later released. His funds of Mideastern origin remain frozen in a Hungarian bank. Little reassuring is known of the country’s several thousand Arab immigrants and those visiting imams, scholars and instructors, who preach intolerance in their prayer houses. As elsewhere, no one protects the moderates from intimidation. Mideastern and Western international Muslim institutions, as the Leicestershire-based Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe, side with the radicals.”

Elfatih Hassanein: the al —Qaeda connection?

But this is not the only thing raising concerns about the organisation. HVG.hu, a Hungarian newspaper, wrote in 2004 that one of the founders of the Charity Peace Foundation, a businessman called Dr. Elfatih Hassanein was repeatedly accused of shipping illegal weapons to the Bosnians (thought to be collaborating with the al-Qaeda terrorists) during the Balkan wars.

The foundation was registered in the Municipal Court of Budapest in the spring of 1996 with capital of ten thousand dollars. Hassanein, who owned a Bosnian diplomatic passport, was one of the three founders.

[…]

Secretive construction works

The unsettling news about the opening of the huge Muslim centre were first covered by Atv.hu. The article published on the 31st of August informed readers that workers have been working for months on the property located at Gutenberg square.

“Local residents in the neighborhood and workers told the newspaper that they believe the building will house a Muslim prayer house, but The Józsefváros Local Council denied any knowledge of this.

Local Council told atv.hu that the property in the apartment house at Gutenberg tér 1 was bought at auction in 2014 by a private individual for HUF 30 million, and that to their knowledge the Charity Peace Foundation — a religious and educational foundation representing adherents of the Muslim faith in Hungary — plans to open a cultural center in the building.” (BBJ)

The concerns of the Budapest Jewish Community

The Budapest Jewish Community issued a statement calling upon the Józsefváros Local Council and Hungary’s Ministry of Interior, to take steps as soon as possible against this alarming situation:

“The Rabbinate of the Budapest Jewish Community strongly protests against the fact that the Charity Peace Foundation is building a Muslim praying centre a few meters away from the National Jewish University and the Scheiber Sándor street synagogue district of the Budapest Jewish Community.

The head of this foundation is that “Palestinian” person who was suspected not so long ago with a series of terror attack attempts planned against the Budapest Jewish Museum.

We call upon Józsefváros Local Council and Hungary’s Ministry of Interior to take steps as soon as possible against this unfortunate condition.”

Read the rest at Periszkóp.

The second article was posted on September 10:

Salafist Center in the Heart of Budapest

The current article reveals further details about the disturbing history (between 1999 — 2009) of the foundation. The Charity Peace Foundation and its management had been investigated by Hungarian authorities since the mid 1990’s, because of document forgery and receiving financial support from extremist sources. Its current Chairman of the Board spent two months in custody in 2004 because of terrorism charges. Although the proceedings were abandoned due to lack of evidence against him, the mosque and the Islamic community connected with The Charity Peace Foundation seem to be rather extremist than moderate. The article published on Dzsihádfigyelo (a Hungarian counterjihad site) also draws the attention that in the Facebook and Twitter pages belonging to the foundation there are Islamic extremist imams among the shared posts. The symbol of the upstanding forefinger available in the profile picture of the Facebook page of the Charity Peace Foundation is one of the most prevalent Salafi jihadist hand signs.

[…]

According to Hvg.hu, the Vienna-based Third World Relief Agency (TWRA), was also led by Hassanein and had close ties with the terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, who in the first half of the 1990s helped the work of the agency with financial donations. According to the information of the International Anti-Terrorism and Security Experts Association (IACSP), between 1992-995 the funds possessed by TWRA were about 350 million dollars. The money was stored on an account at the Austrian GiroCredit Bank. This amount of money originated from the donations of bin Laden and other wealthy individuals as well as from Brunei, Iranian, Malaysian and Saudi Arabian sources. The Washington Post debunked in 1996 that one of the sponsors of the TWRA was the same Shaykh Omar Abdel-Rahman, who was the brain trust behind the first terror attack against the twin towers of the World Trade Center in February 1993

The further stories around the founder and the foundation are also adventurous. The prosecution repeatedly examined the activity of the organization and concluded that its’ founding documents were forged several times. After the scandals the whole management staff of the foundation was replaced, and from March of 2003 Dr. Saleh Tayseer, a Palestinian dentist settled in Hungary became the new Chairman of the Board. However, the shift was troublesome since Tayseer was arrested in April of 2004 on terrorism charges by the National Bureau of Investigation…

[…]

The article published on Hírszerzo revealed that the builder of the church [mosque] previously received money from a notorious Saudi foundation, the Al-Haramain charity organization. Related to the case Tayseer’s lawyer confirmed to Blikk Magazine that the head of the Saudi organisation tried to transfer 474.000 EUR (approximately HUF 120 million) on the account of The Charity Peace Foundation registered on the address of the mosque located on Bartók Béla street. He also visited Budapest twice since 2003 October . “The money would have been used for buying property and building the mosque” — the lawyer stated.

“The Islamic Church is not tolerant. For instance some of our Shia brothers were banned from their mosque. They have an extremist ideology, one can hear quite often even about antisemitic manifestations. It is also weird that the place is also frequented by Syrian money launderers. You can not find such people among us. It is not a coincidence that the National Security Agency is not watching us so strictly. The Islamic Church also accepted money from sources it was not supposed to” — stated then Zoltán Bolek, the head of the rival Hungarian Islamic Community (Magyar Iszlám Közösség)

Tayseer condemns terrorists who only “bring trouble to Islam”, but he thinks that the goals of Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaeda are basically good (reducing American-Jewish influence in the Middle East), only their tools are unacceptable. “According to Islam, if we want to change something that is not in our power, things will only get worse by trying to change it” — he summarised why the extremists are on a wrong track from a religious perspective. According to the leader, even the Taliban who ruled Afghanistan previously had noble goals, since — relying on the Qur’an and the Sunna including the wisdom of the Prophet — they wanted to end drug-trafficking and to establish order and security. By following Allah they wanted to implement the Islamic State. “The Taliban went wrong because they did not wait until people grow up to the Islam. They made instant and radical changes, fully following the command of Allah” — commented Tayseer on the pitfalls of the system (source HVG)

The 42 year old Dr. Saleh Tayseer can boast with a Hungarian university degree, a Hungarian wife and with a title of the Imam of the Dar al Salaam mosque from Bartók Béla street. He also is the head of the Islamic Church registered in 2003. However, his godbrother and ideological rival Zoltán Bolek, the head of the Hungarian Islamic Community disclosed to our newspaper that according to his information Tayseer, who calls himself an Emir, used to be an activist of George Habbas’s Marxist terrorist organization, the People’s Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The remarkable jump from a Muslim background through revolutionary communism to religious fanaticism made Bolek conclude that the imam gradually shifted towards extremist ideas” […] According to Bolek “there are two types of Muslim believers living in Hungary: the peaceful, mostly Hungarian-speaking or integrated foreign Muslims and the ones holding extremist views and prone to terrorist acts. These are mainly believers with Arab background.”
[…]

Read the rest at Periszkóp.

11 thoughts on “A Salafist Center in the Heart of Budapest

  1. Is there no end to this? Even in my beloved Budapest – my ancestors would be turning in their graves.

  2. “The article published on Hírszerzo revealed that the builder of the church [mosque] previously received money from a notorious Saudi foundation, the Al-Haramain charity organization”.

    It sounded like a Saudi money job. They’ve been building these Islamic beachheads all over the non muslim world. The governments of the West must ban these Saudi funded mosques.

  3. Islam is a cancer that must be nipped in the bud wherever it manifests. Orban has the opportunity to show how an ounce of prevention is worth a pound (or in this case a ton) of cure. Unfortunately, for other countries like France and Sweden, radical surgery is required.

  4. I am very surprised that the Jewish organization actually protested. Most of the time they do the polar opposite: scream and protest, write and ask the EU to immediately intervene against the “anti-Semite fascist” Hungarians. They did the same thing in France in the past years until the situation become too severe and then quickly leaving the country. I would love to hear our Israeli correspondent opinion about this peculiar behavior.

    • It would be an excellent idea to forward these articles to the Israeli correspondent of the Gates of Vienna. I’m also trying to reach the Israeli press. Any help would be appreciated.

  5. “Tensions are even sharper between Zoltan Bolek’s Hungarian Islamic Community (mostly converts) on the one hand and Zoltan Sulok’s much less pro-western Church of the Muslims of Hungary (with a majority of immigrants) and particularly the overtly anti-western and Judeophobic Tayseer Saleh’s Dar as-Salam mosque community on the other.

    How many of these ‘converts’ were members of the antisemitic Hungarian Garda? Has Gábor Vona ( Jobbik party chairman in ’10) joined?

    FWIW…EUObserver: EU should kick out Hungary, says Luxembourg minister This article mentions:

    Referendum
    “Europe will no longer be recognisable” if it lets in many Muslim migrants with a higher birth rate, he said again to Hungarian MPs on Monday.
    Orban has organised a referendum on migration that will be held on 2 October. Voters will be asked if they “want the European Union to be entitled to prescribe the mandatory settlement of non-Hungarian citizens in Hungary without the consent of parliament”.
    On Monday, the leader of Hungary’s far-right Jobbik party (funded by Iran, Turkey & Russia), which in the past has supported his government, said Orban would have to resign if turnout to the referendum is low.
    A 50 percent turnout is necessary to validate the vote.

    • In 2009, Jobbik launched a campaign to expunge from textbooks the accepted theory according to which Hungarians are a Finno-Ugric people, and replace it with one according to which they are related to the Huns, Avars and Scythians, Indo-Iranian nomads that inhabited large parts of the Eurasian steppe in the first half of the first millennium C.E. The party, whose EP delegation is led by a professor of criminal law and whose paramilitary offshoot, the Hungarian Guard, which has since been banned, called on the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and universities to rectify their curricula, asserting that the Finno-Ugric theory was a Hapsburg plot to break the self-respect of the Hungarian people. link
      In 2010, Gábor Vona plainly demonstrated his bias against the West with this poster….September 11, 2010

      See also: PaprikaPolitik: Hungary Expands List of Recognized Churches 3/2012

      “Originally recognized 14 churches: Catholic Church in Hungary, Reformed Church in Hungary, Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Hungary, Federation of Jewish Communities in Hungary, United Hungarian Jewish Community (status quo ante), Autonomous Orthodox Jewish Religious Community in Hungary, Buda Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople the Orthodox Exarchate in Hungary, The Bulgarian Orthodox Church in Hungary, Romanian Orthodox Diocese in Hungary, Hungarian Diocese of the Russian, Orthodox Church — Moscow Patriarchate, Unitarian Church in Hungary, Baptist Union of Hungary, Faith Church, Hungary.

      Additional 18 churches recently recognized: Hungarian Methodist Church, the Hungarian Pentecostal Church, the St. Margaret Episcopalian Church, the Transylvanian Congregation, the Seventh Day Adventist Church, the Hungarian Coptic Orthodox Church, the Church of the Nazarene, the Hare Krishna’s, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Hungarian Islamic Community and the Hungarian Islamic Council and Tan Kapuja Buddhist Church, Buddhist Mission, Hungarian Árya Maitreya Mandala Church; Hungarian Karma — Kagyüpa Buddhist Community; Hungarian Chinese Chanbuddhist Church, Diamond Road Buddhist Church.

  6. Well, given that both the mayor of Budapest is aligned with Fidesz (at least according to wikipedia!), it should be much easier for this conversion to an Islamic Center/mosque/whatever else to be denied, perhaps for reasons to do with parking spaces, or similar, than was the case with the Saudi-sponsored mosque in Warsaw – a city ruled by a mayor from the pro-EU Civic Platform, recently mired in a corruption scandal.

  7. I can not understand Jews who went back to Europe after WWII. Sold out by their governments, neighbors, and “friends.” Sheesh.

    • Some of these “returnees” have actually converted to Islam, but continue to practice their Kosher habits for family and community reasons – one of my neighbours is like this. There doesn’t seem any logical reason why the two religions cant co-exist apart from some discrepancies on spiritual matters – but we have seen a gradual merging of Christianity and Islam in many middle eastern communities anyway. I dont think the tide will run fast but its lapping…at least in Eastern Europe.

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