EVANSTON, Ill., March 10, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Rotary International General Secretary Ed Futa has contacted FOXNews personality Mike Huckabee to remind the former Arkansas governor that Rotary clubs  -- established in the United States more than a century ago -- now thrive in more than 200 countries.

The letter comes in response to a statement made by Huckabee in a March 2 radio interview that most Americans "grew up in communities filled with Rotary clubs, not madrassas (Islamic seminaries)," during a critical assessment of President Barack Obama's "world view." Obama spent a portion of his childhood in Indonesia, home to the world's largest Muslim population. It also is home to about 89 Rotary clubs.

While stressing that Rotary is a non-political humanitarian service organization that does not take sides in partisan debates, Futa said he wanted to clarify to Huckabee and the public that Rotary is an international institution that transcends the boundaries of any one country and welcomes as club members business and professional leaders representing all faiths, races and cultures.

In the letter emailed to Huckabee's FOXNews address March 8, Futa agreed that Rotary "has maintained a solid presence in thousands of U.S. communities, large and small," since the organization was founded in Chicago in 1905. The United States has more than 7,850 Rotary clubs with a total membership of about 353,000 men and women, the most in the world.

"But that's only part of the Rotary story, and to leave it at that might create the erroneous impression that Rotary's reach and impact are limited to the United States," Futa wrote, adding that more than two thirds of Rotary's 1.2 million members now live outside of the United States.

Among Muslim-majority states, Turkey has the most Rotary clubs with 223, totaling about 6,000 members. Pakistan is second with 155 clubs and more than 3,000 members, followed by Malaysia, 109 clubs; Indonesia, 89 clubs; and Egypt, 74 clubs. Others include Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Jordan, Morocco, and United Arab Emirates. In 2010, a Rotary club was chartered in Palestine.

India, where the population is 80 percent Hindu, is the second largest Rotary nation with 3,000 clubs and 112,000 members. Japan, largely Shinto/Buddhist, and Brazil, mostly Roman Catholic, follow with about 2,300 clubs each. Israel, where the state religion is Judaism, is home to 59 Rotary clubs.

Rotary is an organization of business and professional leaders who provide humanitarian service and help to build goodwill and peace in the world.  There are 1.2 million Rotary members in 33,000 Rotary clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas.  Rotary clubs have been serving communities worldwide for more than a century.


SOURCE Rotary International