UK: Muslim Brotherhood ties are ‘indicator of extremism’
LONDON - British Prime Minister David Cameron said the findings of a review of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood support the view that membership in the Islamist organisation or association with it “should be considered as a possible indicator of extremism”.
The study could lead to the Brotherhood being banned in the United Kingdom, the Guardian newspaper reported, although that step was not yet taken.
The long-delayed review into the organisation was commissioned in 2014 to examine whether the group put British national security at risk. Cameron ordered Britain’s intelligence agencies to investigate the philosophy and activities of the Muslim Brotherhood.
“Parts of the Muslim Brotherhood have a highly ambiguous relationship with violent extremism,” Cameron said in a statement. “Both as an ideology and as a network it has been a rite of passage for some individuals and groups who have gone on to engage in violence and terrorism.”
“The main findings of the review support the conclusion that membership of, association with, or influence by, the Muslim Brotherhood should be considered as a possible indicator of extremism.”
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood after his Islamist predecessor Muhammad Morsi, a member of the group, was ousted in 2013. Egyptian authorities accused the movement of involvement in attacks on security forces and of maintaining links with Islamic State-affiliated terrorist cells. The Brotherhood has denied involvement in terrorist activities in Egypt and elsewhere.
Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have banned the Muslim Brotherhood, labelling it a “terrorist” organisation. Cameron did not immediately ban the group but did say members were “possible extremists”.
Cameron said Muslim Brotherhood-associated and -influenced groups had sometimes characterised Britain as fundamentally hostile to the Muslim faith and identity and expressed support for attacks conducted by Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.
“Aspects of the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideology and activities therefore run counter to British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, equality and the mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs,” he said.
Cameron said the British government would keep under review the views and activities of Muslim Brotherhood associates in Britain and whether the group met the legal test for proscription as a terrorist organisation.
While not declaring an outright ban on the organisation, Cameron said Britain would continue to refuse visas to members and associates of the group who have made extremist comments and it would intensify its scrutiny of the views and activities of Muslim Brotherhood members, associates and affiliates overseas.