Its director Shimon Samuels said the UOIF
was "a radical political organization " linked to the Muslim Brotherhood spiritual guide Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi, who has issued fatwas (religious decrees) supporting suicide bombers.
Over the last twenty years the UOIF has developed into France's largest and most active Muslim organization, controlling a large number of mosques and attracting tens of thousands of attendees to its annual gathering in Le Bourget.
28) on the other hand, French Minister of Interior Nicolas Sarkozy publicly stated that he believes the UOIF has always held positions that "respected the Republic" and is a reliable partner in the delicate dialogue over the integration of the French Muslim community.
UOIF representatives, most of them recipients of degrees from prestigious French universities, are involved in countless interfaith, anti-racism, and pro-integration partnerships with Christian, private, and government organizations.
As the first nationwide controversy over the use of the hijab in public schools erupted in 1989, the then-relatively powerless UOIF became the most active defender of the right to wear the veil.
Today, now that it has achieved a dominant position within France's organized Islamic community, the UOIF has completely changed its tactics and strives to gain the trust of the authorities.
In its change of behavior, the UOIF provides a quintessential example of the Brotherhood's most effective quality: flexibility.
An Islamist movement linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, the UOIF recognizes the authority of the Qatari-based Egyptian Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who has justified suicide bombings or "martyrdom operations" against Israeli civilians and American forces in Iraq.
While the UOIF continues to attract a more "elitist" audience drawn from the Muslim middle class and university students--and is seen as representing a "more bourgeois" Islam--it is largely absent from the cites.