Saudi Arabia tells Europe: The Muslim Brotherhood is a threat to Islam

Analysts say the Council of Senior Scholars’ message means Saudi Arabia will not change policy on the Brotherhood following Biden’s victory in the US.
Thursday 12/11/2020
Armed police officers patrol in Vienna, Austria. (REUTERS)
Armed police officers patrol in Vienna, Austria. (REUTERS)

RIYADH –The International Organisation of the Muslim Brotherhood has clashed with the Saudi Council of Senior Scholars, describing it as a sycophant body, after the Council declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation that does not represent the way of Islam and warned against its agenda.

Leading Brotherhood activists heaped insults and sarcasm on the Council. Tawakkol Karman described its scholars as sycophants and boot-lickers, while Mohamed al-Mukhtar al-Shanqeeti–a pro-Brotherhood researcher at Qatar Foundation in Doha – called the Council’s statement about the Brotherhood “just a media firecracker.”

The Council of Senior Scholars issued a strongly-worded statement against the Muslim Brotherhood, considering it a “deviant group” which gave birth “to extremist terrorist groups that wreaked havoc on the country and the people.”

The statement coincided with a European campaign targeting the wheels and cogs of the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe, amid an awakening in a number of European countries to the strategic danger posed by the group’s ideology and methods based on luring young people and feeding them anti-Western society notions leading to the building of isolated Islamic communities within these societies, communities that hate others, in addition to inciting them to target these societies and target their values.

Analysts said that the statement of the Saudi Council of Senior Scholars contains a clear message to Europe that the Brotherhood does not represent Islam, and that its threat to Islam is the same one that threatens Europe, resulting from the latter’s embrace of the group for decades and allowing it to control the mosques of the Muslim communities, their religious centres and their charitable activities.

French President Emmanuel Macron walks back Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz  at the Elysee Palace in Paris on November 10. (AFP)
French President Emmanuel Macron walks back Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz  at the Elysee Palace in Paris on November 10. (AFP)

The analysts said the Council’s statement amounted practically to the Saudi kingdom washing its hands of the extremist group and denies it any religious cover, which in turn would allow the European states to go after it and dismantle its branches and networks in Europe.

The Council’s statement coincided with the holding of a European summit that brought together France, Germany and Austria to set the basic mechanisms and rules for expanding the tasks of combating extremism and extremists, as part of measures aimed primarily at besieging political Islam organisations.

Abdullatif Al-Sheikh, Saudi Minister of Islamic Affairs, Advocacy and Guidance, wrote on Twitter, “I have been warning against the terrorist group of the Muslim Brotherhood for over twenty years, fearing for our religion, our country, our citizens and all Muslims as a whole, and I have received from them and their brainwashed victims more than my share of harm to my person, my honour and my possessions, but I resisted and persevered… and now, after this healing statement, no one can claim ignorance as an excuse.”

Followers of Saudi affairs did not rule out that the statement of the Council of Senior Scholars was a response to the Muslim Brotherhood’s exaggerated enthusiasm over Joe Biden’s victory in the US presidential elections and its probable negative impact on Saudi-American relations.

These observers pointed out that, behind the Council’s statement, there is a Saudi message saying that the Brotherhood’s rush to welcome and embrace Biden and its attempts to win his sympathy while inciting against important countries in the region will not change Saudi Arabia’s steadfast position of considering the group a terrorist organisation and a real incubator for all militant groups.

Saudi minister of Islamic affairs Abdullatif Al-Sheikh attends  a conference in Jiddah on July 10, 2018. (AFP)
Saudi minister of Islamic affairs Abdullatif Al-Sheikh attends  a conference in Jiddah on July 10, 2018. (AFP)

The statement shows that there is a conviction in the Kingdom that the Brotherhood – and behind it its networks of influence that have not yet been completely dismantled – is the main enemy of the reform path adopted by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, through unrelenting smear campaigns on social media sites that rely on peddling and spreading rumours, with the intent of trying to show that the bold reforms introduced are inconsistent with the Saudi national identity and the Kingdom’s role as a spiritual and political centre in the leadership of the Islamic world.

Yemeni activists urged Saudi Arabia on social media to expand its anti-Muslim Brotherhood stance to include the Brotherhood’s Yemeni branch, the Islah Party. It has become clear that this party is serving Qatari and Turkish agendas at the expense of the Kingdom’s efforts to secure the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement.

Activists said the plans of the Brotherhood’s Islah Party show that it has become a card in Turkey’s hand, and that it is paving the way for it to obtain vital sites in Yemen. They noted that prominent party leaders have become based in Turkey from which they keep launching media attacks on the countries of the Arab coalition in support of legitimacy in Yemen. They also pointed out that Saudi Arabia, too, is hosting other Brotherhood leaders and giving them the means to play an influential role in the “Yemeni legitimacy” camp.

In March 2014, the Saudi Ministry of Interior declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation. Three years later, in June 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt issued a joint statement in which they listed 59 individuals, including prominent Muslim Brotherhood figures, and 12 charities of various nationalities as terrorists.

In March 2018, Prince Muhammad bin Salman described the Muslim Brotherhood as an “incubator for terrorists,” and attacked the group in a television interview on the American CBS television network, pledging to “eradicate the Muslim Brotherhood members” from Saudi schools in a short time.