A British government report due to be published today that is expected to call for greater oversight of the Muslim Brotherhood, is likely to face a legal challenge from the Islamist movement.
In response to the inquiry, the government will introduce closer monitoring of the Muslim Brotherhood’s UK operations — also covering associate groups — in a move that will be presented as a crackdown on Islamism, reports The Guardian.
However, the Muslim Brotherhood’s lawyers warn they will bring a legal challenge against any “undue” criticism of the group in the report commissioned by Prime Minister David Cameron and conducted by Sir John Jenkins, Britain’s former ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
Tayab Ali of ITN solicitors said: “We await the report’s publication but in the event of unwarranted or excessive negative criticism we will challenge it in legal proceedings.”
In fact they have been waiting for quite some time as Sir John’s report was originally due to be published in July 2014. No explanation for the delay has been offered.
Prejudging the content of the report, Mr. Ali alleged suggested there is a case for saying the it had been “unduly influenced by foreign powers hostile to the rise of democracy in the Middle East.”
For example there have been suggestions that the United Arab Emirates — a country which regards the Muslim Brotherhood as an existential threat to itself and the region— threatened to pull the plug on lucrative British arms deals, end inward investment to the UK, and even cease cooperating on an intelligence front if the British government did not act against the group.
Other allies of the UK in the Middle East, such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, are equally damning in their views of the group which they ban as a terrorist organisation, accusations rejected by the Muslim Brotherhood which claims to be merely a peaceful political movement.
According to Mr. Ali, Crispin Blunt, the Conservative MP who chairs the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, had considered his allegations about foreign influence on the government and said he “intends to run an inquiry into the government’s position towards political Islam which will cover many of the issues raised”.
Mr. Ali went on to say he had previously received assurances from the government’s own lawyers that the Muslim Brotherhood will get “notice of the report and right of reply to criticism”. He added:
“This was particularly important as any unsubstantiated criticism would unfairly damage the reputation of the Middle East’s largest democratic organisation.”
Now it is understood the findings will be published as a motion in parliament, thus denying the Muslim Brotherhood any attempt to bring a judicial review against its means of publication.
Lord Ashdown — a former Royal Marine, diplomat and leader of the Liberal Democrats — suggested last month the long-delayed report on the Muslim Brotherhood came to the conclusion the group is not extremist, a result he said was “unhelpful to the Saudis.”
He suggested there had been a “failure to put pressure on the Gulf states, especially Saudi Arabia and Qatar, to stop funding the salafists and wahhabists.” He said that failure, as well as other missed opportunities for a proper inquiry into the funding of jihadism in Britain, led him to “worry about the closeness of the Conservative party and rich Arab Gulf individuals”.