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The Rotary Club and its surprising enemies… February 24, 2008

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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For reasons too complex (or too dull) to explain here I found myself recently at a Rotary Club do. It was…well, what it was. A gathering of generally late middle aged, reasonably well intentioned well-to-do people who seem to enjoy chains of office perhaps a tad too much and a generate a curious mix of charity work about a range of issues with somewhat overlong speeches. I have no intention of joining. Ever (indeed a number of us who happened to be there as guests commented that badges along the lines of “Please do not invite us to join as a refusal may offend” might have been useful).

But be that as it may, and I’m not rushing to go to another such event anytime soon, there is one group of people who have a profound enmity towards the Rotary Club. And that would be….

Why none other than Islamists… As a piece in Slate magazine by Jonathan Schwarz noted:

Muslim fundamentalists aren’t shy about naming their enemies. They’ve identified Zionists and secularists as particular foes of Islam; picked out apostates, Americans, and Jews for scorn; disparaged “crusaders” and imperialists; and even—like conspiracists everywhere—warned against the Freemasons.

But Islamists have selected one enemy that’s entirely baffling: Rotary clubs.

For instance, this appears in Article 17 of the Hamas charter:

Therefore, you can see [the enemies] making consistent efforts by way of publicity and movies, curriculi of education and culture, using as their intermediaries their craftsmen who are part of the various Zionist Organizations which take on all sorts of names and shapes such as: the Free Masons, Rotary Clubs, gangs of spies and the like. All of them are nests of saboteurs and sabotage. (emphasis added)

Woah there guys. Now I’m not saying it didn’t put a dent in my weekend, but… ‘nests of saboteurs and sabotage’?

It doesn’t end there:

In 2000, British police discovered an al-Qaida manual titled “Military Studies in the Jihad Against the Tyrants” in the home of a Bin Laden disciple. Its introduction learnedly explains:

After the fall of our orthodox caliphates on March 3, 1924. … Colonialism and its followers, the apostate rulers, then started to openly erect crusader centers, societies, and organizations like Masonic Lodges, Lions and Rotary Clubs. (emphasis added)

It must be admitted that wine and beer were available, and the proceedings started with a somewhat pro forma grace, but I didn’t see much of a ‘crusader’ complexion to the proceedings. Indeed the Middle East and Islam weren’t mentioned once. Nah, the focus of attention is Africa.

And the article picks up on the seemingly disproportionate concentration on what is essentially a rather mundane organisation:

For Americans, of course, this seems slightly comic. Rotary clubs? Aren’t they like the Elks, except less edgy? But the roots of the peculiar Islamist fixation on Rotary clubs are deep in the tangled history of Western influence in the Middle East. Our story begins with the formation of the first Rotary club in Chicago in 1905. Originally conceived as a social club for its four founding businessmen, the club soon expanded and became focused on community service. One of its initial projects was the construction of Chicago’s first public bathroom. The name came from the club’s practice of rotating meetings among members’ workplaces.

Now, let’s get this straight. The fact the founders were business people indicates why this is no hotbed of social revolution. Placid, charity oriented, speechifying, mind-bogglingly slow moving. Yes, all these, and… no overt ideological agenda, other perhaps than a validation of presently existing capitalism which remains unstated. Which is sort of tooth-grinding in the way that one wants to get away as soon as humanly possible… but one wishes to be polite so the grinding continues on the qt.

It is an assumed link with the Freemasons which is, perhaps inevitably, the Rotarians undoing. Simply put many suppose that it was an off-shoot of them. But, it wasn’t. Nothing so exciting in fact, although it led to the Rotary Clubs being essentially off-limits to the Catholic Church, as the following makes clear.

Similar views on masonry were held (in less virulent forms) by conservative elements of the Catholic Church. And as Rotary clubs spread, the church lumped them with the Masons. In 1928 several Spanish bishops declared that Rotary was “nothing else but a new satanic organization with the same background and teachings of masonry” and deemed it “a suspected organization” that “should be considered as execrable and perverse.” Soon afterward the Vatican decreed that Catholic priests could not join Rotary clubs.

This chill lasted for a surprisingly long time. Dan Mooers, former chairman of Rotary International’s Executive Committee, recalls Rotary being denounced from the pulpit as late as 1970. The relationship between Rotary and the church began to warm in 1979, when Pope John Paul II publicly endorsed Rotary’s humanitarian projects.

Still, the saying of grace might be a small clue that I wasn’t surrounded by the advance guard of secularism.

And as the Slate piece notes:

But what does this have to do with Islamic fundamentalism? The answer seems to be conspiracy gridlock: For years fundamentalist Islam has borrowed wholesale from European conspiracist cosmology. Ever since Protocols of the Elders of Zion was first translated into Arabic, it’s provided a handy explanation—Masons and all—for the Western menace to the Islamic community. (In Iraq, Moqtada al-Sadr’s paper Al Hawza published a picture of George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton and explained that their hand gestures were a sign of the Zionist-Masonic conspiracy.) And, like the Catholic Church, Islamists lumped Rotarians in with the Masons and called both anathema.

But, unfortunately for the Rotarians,Freemasonry was involved in the colonialist waves across the Middle East, and supported that agenda quite explicitly.

Berkeley’s Hamid Algar, one of the world’s pre-eminent scholars of Islamic history, explains that Freemasonry:

has generally functioned since its first appearance in the Muslim world in the late eighteenth century as a channel for the promotion of Western dominance, politically and ideologically; one Istanbul lodge in the mid-nineteenth century had the British ambassador as its grand master and the Ottoman chief vizier as one of his initiates. Visiting dignitaries from Iran and the Ottoman Empire would regularly be initiated by their hosts on their visits to London and Paris.

And, as is the way with such things this has led to an elision between the Masons (bad) and the Rotarians (not quite as bad, if you like that kind of thing, I suppose) amongst Islamists keen to remove any Western influence. And it’s not as if they weren’t speaking from experience. As Slate notes:

(A final bizarre and ironic twist is that the intellectual grandfather of today’s pan-Islamic fundamentalism is 19th-century thinker Jamal al-Din al-Afghani. Afghani’s figurative heirs would eventually found the Muslim Brotherhood. When Afghani lived in Egypt during 1870s, he was a Mason.)

And this has led to Rotary being simply not visible in many many parts of the Middle East, although in others it’s doing okay. I’m not entirely surprised by the latter. Commerce is central to the socio-political culture there (as indeed it is here) so one might expect that…

At the same time, Rotary is quietly thriving in parts of the Islamic world. There are about 100 chapters in Indonesia, more than 80 chapters in Turkey, 70 in Egypt, 20 in Lebanon, and even one in Dubai. Indeed, in some quarters Rotary is perceived just as it is here. As one youthful Cairo blogger reports: “They seem nice enough, but kind of boring.”

Too true, all too true… But they might well wish they had rather less boring enemies…

Comments»

1. Starkadder - February 24, 2008

I’m sure in America the Rotary Clubs tended to support
the Republican party-I think it was Mark Crispin
Miller who referred to “FDR haters in the Rotary Club
and the American Legion”.
I’m surprised the Muslim fundamentalist have picked
on them,though.

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2. WorldbyStorm - February 24, 2008

I really don’t know. Interesting though. I’d imagine the pro-business stance would certainly skew them. I’m very very cautious about ‘charitable’ groups anyhow…

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3. John Green - February 25, 2008

Maybe they’re confusing them with the Rosicrucians.

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4. WorldbyStorm - February 25, 2008

Not the most difficult mistake to make, either…

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5. Craig - February 26, 2008

Rotary Clubs do seem a bit snobbish but I rather doubt they are part of the Freemason ‘movement’. The Islamists are kind of scraping the barrel with this one.

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6. isam hassan - July 12, 2009

???????

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7. Turther - March 11, 2010

Well… I do not about Muslims but…

I’m an Orthodox Christian and I do find Rotary Clubs to be a subversive lement.

I’m not sure whether this goes for the entire world or Europe but when it comes to former Yugoslavia, its collapse is closely linked to two organizations Rotary Club and Paneuropean Union.

How, when, where and why Catholic Church (which goes hand in hand with Paneuropean movement) actually made up with Rotary Club… (Maybe I’m misinformed but from what I understand they used to be on opposite sides), nevertheless they found themselves united against what seems to be the universal enemy – commies, Reds…

So whether you’re a Rotarian, a Freemason, a Jihadi, an anarcholiberal, a neocon, a monarchist, a Paneuropean, a Knight of Malta, all enemies cannot be compared to the old commie.

Liked by 1 person

8. Emmanuel Ngetich - April 12, 2011

I may not know details about the Rotary, Lions or Giants Clubs but a club formed for humanitarian purposes does not conduct its affairs in secrecy. The secrecy points out to a hidden agenda. The hidden agenda can only be evil.

Rotary, Lions and others clubs like Giants to me are fronts for devious and extremely evil organizations (who engage in horrible practices like human or blood sacrifices). Why for instance are they in the medical sector (building hospitals and engaging in polio eradication-we require statistics on their polio campaigns-whether polio is really being eradicated-the exercise may be a ruse for polio introduction)? There must be a desire by them to whet an insatiable thirst for human suffering. THIS IS THE HALLMARK OF THE DEVIL HIMSELF.

If my concerns are not true, let someone shed light on these organizations.

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Dean Bouldign - April 16, 2012

“I may not know details about the Rotary, Lions or Giants Clubs but a club formed for humanitarian purposes does not conduct its affairs in secrecy.”

Wow. I’ve been in a Rotary club for about ten years now. Religion and politics are never discussed at my club, and there is a similar understanding throughout the organization. It’s probably written down somewhere.

We don’t meet in secret, we advertise our meetings and would really like more people to come along. I will keep my eyes open next meeting and see if there are any human sacrifices going down — if so I’ll let you know.

Dean Boulding

Liked by 1 person

Evan Iliadis (channel) - April 14, 2018

Indeed, no secret meetings there, no strange rituals. Just defrauding good people giving their money “for a good cause” to realize later that all they accomplished is fattening the bank accounts of a few Rotarians con artists.
Read the story of a former rotarian.

http://rotaryinternational-wallofshame.org

http://rotaryinternational-wallofshame.org/rotary-international-matching-grants-for-sale/

Is not written by a muslim or a jihadist. It come from a former rotarian.

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Heckle - April 16, 2012

+1

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Heckle - April 16, 2012

(+1 Emmanuel Ngetich)

Liked by 1 person

9. zenobia - November 7, 2014

My husband’s step father was active in Rotary for many years. He is also my husband’s uncle. I recently wrote the group about what they thought of my husband’s uncle marrying his niece and how embarrassing their constant Rotary related public social activities have been for us over the years and they seem to have no policy on incest. I think the man is disgusting for pursing and marrying his much younger relative, and abandoning his family. If men like that make up the Rotary then I want nothing to do with them.

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10. guide to andalusians - March 2, 2015

The celebrated Greek cavalry officer Xenophon, who is credited with beginning the sport of
dressage. They are perfect carriage horses and have placed in international driving competitions against other breeds.
Andalusians only began to be exported from Spain in 1962.

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11. Gerryboy - April 14, 2018

I knew a Quaker in Dublin some years ago, who was a member of the Rotary Club. He showed me the Rotary handbook, with a list of names and addresses. The rules at the front of the book stated that rotary members were not to use the handbook for political or religious promotions. I was informed that Rotary groups tend to elect to membership well-positioned individuals from many professions. I suppose it is a predominantly middle-class network. It is not a secret organization. In towns and cities around the world there are Lions Clubs. They are recruited from the leading echelons of local businesses and professions i.e. the middle- and upper-middle class. They are not secretive. They organize fundraising events and donate the proceeds to charity. If many rotarians in the USA vote Republican Party or in Ireland vote Fine Gael, it is because individually they support business interests, not because they are rotarians.

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WorldbyStorm - April 14, 2018

+1 I’m amazed this thread has had the longevity it has. TBH I wouldn’t take the Rotary crew that seriously. As you say it’s a middle class network in the main and mostly for socialising as far as I can see.

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EWI - April 14, 2018

+1 I’m amazed this thread has had the longevity it has. TBH I wouldn’t take the Rotary crew that seriously. As you say it’s a middle class network in the main and mostly for socialising as far as I can see.

It does strongly reinforce their class solidarity, though.

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WorldbyStorm - April 15, 2018

I’m no fan of the RC but it’s not going to be banned any time soon so short of tut tutting about it I’m not sure what we can do.

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12. techritter - June 18, 2019

Why try to explain why religious extremists see something as evil (though this piece barely even does that anyway). It’s not as if all Muslims think this way. The RC is a Western based global organization. We can talk about conspiracy theories that are popular in the US which are embedded in the current culture of the religious right which makes this look downright normal (Qanon, Pizzagate…)

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WorldbyStorm - June 18, 2019

Not trying to explain why religious extremists see something as evil – and this blog isn’t based in the US. It’s a light(ish)take on something I had a direct if fleeting personal experience of and a larger phenomenon.

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