Britain’s largest Islamic organisation – which claims to speak on behalf of most of the country’s Muslim population – has undeclared links to the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, according to a new UK government report.
Brotherhood supporters have “played an important role in establishing and then running” the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), a group of more than 500 Islamic organisations that is often deferred to the voice of mainstream Islam in Britain, the review says – finally recognising what those in the UK counter-terrorism community have been warning about for many years.
The Brotherhood has exerted “significant influence” on the MCB, the Muslim Association of Britain and an organisation described as “Britain’s largest Muslim student organisation”, which is believed to be a reference to the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS).
The Muslim Brotherhood is an international movement that views Western society with suspicion, describing it as “inherently hostile to Muslim interests”. Although the report does not find any links between the Brotherhood and terrorism in the UK, it does say that many of its leaders openly support Hamas attacks on Israeli civilians.
The review, conducted by Sir John Jenkins, former UK ambassador to Saudi Arabia, says the group engages “where possible” with political debate but has at times used terror. It preaches non-violent political engagement in the West, although it maintains a strongly conservative Islamic ethos.
The Times reports that Prime Minister David Cameron said the review revealed the group’s “highly ambiguous relationship with violent extremism”, however he stopped short of calling for the Brotherhood to be outlawed.
That decision is likely to anger countries such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, where the group is currently illegal. They have previously accused Britain of being the movement’s main base outside the Middle East. It also means that Muslim Brotherhood UK will continue to be able to raise funds for the worldwide movement.
The Muslim Council of Britain has denied links to the group, with a spokeswoman saying it has “no affiliation to the Muslim Brotherhood”. Meanwhile, FOSIS said it was “not influenced by any external organisations”.
Another named group – the Cordoba Foundation – has said it is “completely false” to say the group was linked to the Brotherhood. Mr. Anas Altikriti, who serves as head of the Muslim Association of Britain and of Cordoba, acknowledged “ideological links” with the Brotherhood, but said it was “not a Brotherhood organisation”.
Breitbart London reported yesterday how the Brotherhood is likely to challenge the report’s findings. The group warned it could bring a legal challenge against any “undue” criticism, with Tayab Ali of ITN solicitors suggesting there is a case for saying it had been “unduly influenced by foreign powers hostile to the rise of democracy in the Middle East.”