Thursday,23 February, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1125, 6 - 12 December 2012
Thursday,23 February, 2017
Issue 1125, 6 - 12 December 2012

Ahram Weekly

Whitewashing political Islam

A parliamentary delegation in London accuses UK MPs of promoting Islamism. Gamal Essam El-Din reports

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Al-Ahram Weekly

A delegation including 12 MPs from parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee visited London to exchange views with British politicians on political Islam, the Muslim Brotherhood and relations between Egypt and the UK.

The five-day visit began on Sunday and ended Thursday. Dahlia Youssef, head of the Egyptian-British Parliamentary Friendship Association, told reporters the trip was “both necessary and urgent” following the release of a report by the UK House of Commons on 7 November which “defends political Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood”.

The House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee issued its own 10-page report on 19 November in response to the UK parliament's defence of political Islam.

The UK report, released by the House of Commons' Foreign Affairs Committee, reviewed the findings of December 2015 review of the Muslim Brotherhood by the UK Foreign Office.

The 2015 report concluded the Brotherhood has long maintained a dubious position vis-à-vis the use of violence and terrorism to achieve political change.

The UK parliament committee said that the FCO review "undermined confidence in the impartiality of the FCO's work" due to the "misguided appointment" of Sir John Jenkins, the UK’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, to head the review panel.

Egyptian MPs lashed out at the report, describing it as a "disgusting attempt to whitewash political Islam and its affiliated terrorist and militant movements in Europe– particularly the outlawed group of Muslim Brotherhood”.

Youssef, who headed Egypt’s parliamentary delegation, said Egypt's rebuttal, “A response to UK House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee's report in Defence of Political Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood" had been translated into a number of European languages. "We have submitted the report which rings alarm bells about the danger of the spread of Islamist movements like the Muslim Brotherhood to the European Parliament, the Inter-parliamentary Union, the UK House of Commons, the German Bundestag and the French National Assembly," said Youssef.

"It is important for European politicians and MPs to be exposed to different perspectives, particularly the perspective of a country which has suffered so much from political Islam and its affiliated groups – particularly Muslim Brotherhood."

"Most European politicians and MPs get their information about political Islam from the Western media and American think tanks which tend to describe Islamist movements as victims of Arab dictatorships and argue that once Arab governments are democratic Islamist movements will be integrated in the political process and everything will be OK."

"Our report exposes this lie and shows the ideology of Islamism precludes democratic integrationas has been made clear in the recent experiences of countries like Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey," said Youssef.

The Egyptian report accuses the House of Commons of trying to exonerate the Muslim Brotherhood and affiliated militant groups from the charge of terrorism and warns that "political Islam movements claim victimhood and repression as a cover to spread in Western Europe".

Youssef said the delegation told British MPs that Egypt’s parliament is ready to provide them with all the documents necessary to “prove the dangers of the ideology of political Islam which is based on Islamicising the entire world".

 "We told them that if they are really keen to know what political Islam is they must show interest and learn lessons from the country which has suffered so much from this malignant tumor," said Youssef.

Meetings in London also addressed the ban on direct British flights to Sharm El-Sheikh and economic conditions in Egypt.

The 10-page report released on 20 November was scathing about EU and UK politicians who defend "political Islam".

The report said "if Europe and the West are really keen to stem the tide of religious terrorism and the political hijacking of Islam they should correct their understanding of all Islamist movements which claim they have a license from God to implement his laws on earth and impose the state of the Caliphate on the world”.

Ahmed Said, head of the Foreign Affairs Committee, told reporters on Sunday that the UK House of Commons' Foreign Affairs Committee report of 7 November comprised a series of lies.

"Our committee's report aims to expose these lies. It will be sent to Egyptian ambassadors in Western Europe and the United States so as to empower them as they oppose the attempts of politicians in the West to polish the image of political Islam."

"Europe was able to move ahead and achieve progress only after it made a separation between religion and politics," says the report. "Yet a new generation of European and American radical liberals and progressives are defending political Islam, offering cover for Islamist movements which claim victimhood to spread across Europe and create fertile ground for Islamist radicals there."

"How can a parliament that was based on separating religion from politics [the House of Commons] approve of Egypt being governed by a theocratic regime?" asked the report.

The report accused the UK parliament of making superficial distinctions “between Islamist movements that exploit democracy to reach power and Islamist movements which use armed jihad for imposing their radical ideology on society".

“All the credible studies conducted on Islamist movements show that there are no substantial differences between them… they all seek one objective – to impose a strict code of Islam and Islamic Sharia on the world and launch an armed Jihad against ‘infidel rulers’ everywhere."

"These groups want to Islamise the entire world and only differ over when and how these objectives should be implemented…A group like the Muslim Brotherhood seeks to show an artificial, moderate face to gain ground in the West and infiltrate societies there while other groups seek to promote violence. Each complements the other."

The report describes the Muslim Brotherhood "as the mother of all jihadist and Salafist movements".

"The UK parliament report ignores – either deliberately or as a result of a lack of knowledges – that since it was established in the first third of the previous century the Muslim Brotherhood has been responsible for spreading the radical ideology upon which terrorist organisations such as Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Hamas, Ezzeddin Al-Qassam, Al-Nusra Front and Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis are based," said the report. "Most of the leaders of these terrorist organisations, including Al-Qaeda's current leader Ayman Al-Zawahri, were members of the Muslim Brotherhood."

"We doubt that UK politicians or MPs have access to adequate information about the ideological basis of the Muslim Brotherhood which is irredeemably hostile to the West and its ‘liberal and infidel culture’," said the report.

The report accuses UK MPs of making "a big mistake" in the comparisons they draw between the experience of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Tunisia.

"The media and politicians in the West always like to portray Tunisia as a democratic inclusive model and the Arab world's most successful story," says the report. "Yet the fact is Tunisia has become a fertile ground for Islamist jihadists who spread extremism and terrorism in France and Europe… more than 1,000 Tunisians – the largest number from any Arab state - have joined either Daesh or ISIS."

The report argues the Muslim Brotherhood in Tunisia has accepted democracy for tactical reasons, claiming that "after they saw how millions in Egypt revolted against their mother group they decided to backtrack".

The report explains the Muslim Brotherhood's ideology and internal structure "which is hostile to any democratic values".

"Their ideology is based on strict obedience to the group's supreme guide… Its main ideologues, men such as Sayed Qotb, formulated the jihadist ideology which insists democracy is against the rule of God and Islamic Sharia."

The report offers an overview of the Muslim Brotherhood’s year in power in Egypt.

"They exploited the collapse of Hosni Mubarak's ruling party to exclude all civilian political forces from power and impose their rule on the country. When millions revolted against them and expelled them from power on 30 June, 2013, their claims that they were being victimised found willing ears in the UK and its parliament.

The report says many of those behind the terrorist attacks against the US on 11 September, 2001 were trained by veteran Muslim Brotherhood leaders and highlights what it calls the Muslim Brotherhood's "empowerment ideology" which seeks to Islamise the world gradually.

"It hopes, via a web of mosques which preach jihadist ideology across Europe and America, to build a critical mass which no government will be able to remove."

After insisting "Egyptians will stand firm against the rule of the supreme guide and will not allow their country become a religious state… we are in a battle of life and death against this group, which is the mother of all radical Islamist movements," the report concludes by noting: "While most of the world has become increasingly aware of the dangers posed by radical Islamist movements we are surprised that UK MPs insist not  only on polishing the image of these movements but on propagating the lie that they are peaceful and moderate."

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