UK should uphold its principles with the Muslim Brotherhood

opinion April 06, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

2,127 Viewed

Saudi Arabia and Egypt want British PM David Cameron to call the group a terrorist organisation, without evidence to show that

If anybody understands the Muslim Brotherhood it is the British government.
After all, the Brotherhood has been around the United Kingdom for the past 80 years and Britain has manage to keep a relationship with the organisation without jeopardising its relations with the Arab nation-state that despises the movement. 
Unfortunately, that balancing act is becoming more difficult and the pressure on Britain to cut ties with the Brotherhood could be coming from places like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the two countries that have recently declared the movement a terrorist organisation. 
This past week British news outlets revealed that British Prime Minister David Cameron had “commissioned an internal government review into the philosophy and activities of the Muslim Brotherhood and the government’s policy towards the organisation”.
The Foreign Office, the intelligence agencies and others agencies have been tasked to help British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Sir John Jenkins put together the report that is due to be finished by July.
The timing of the report may be odd but it’s no coincidence, not after two British allies declared the Brotherhood a terrorist organisation. 
Ever since ousting the group’s leader in a coup in July last year, the military-backed government in Egypt has been carrying out a bloody campaign to crush the movement. Hundreds have been sentenced to death by an Egyptian court. Many have been killed in street protests.
Cairo would like the world to believe that the Brotherhood is planning attacks from their respective capital, like London. But there is nothing to suggest that the Muslim Brotherhood in the UK or anywhere else in the world is supporting terrorist activities in Egypt. 
The latest move by the British government against the Brotherhood in the UK raises a number of questions. First, one has to wonder why the investigation was publicly announced.
If the British government has evidence that the group has a tendency to be violent, then it should moved to arrest the members and ban the organisation. 
Also, why chose the ambassador to Saudi Arabia, a country where the Muslim Brotherhood is outlawed? Perhaps Sir John doesn’t mind the Saudis standing over his shoulder saying: “Hey! Don’t forget the ‘t’ word.”
Like many countries around the world, Britain is stuck between those who like the Muslim Brotherhood and those who hate them. Qatar and Turkey are supportive of the Brotherhood, while Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel and the UAE want them locked up because the organisation posed a political threat. 
Saudi Arabia and the UAE have pooled together a financial contribution for Cairo to offset any loss of funding from the US and other Western countries following the coup last July and the bloody killings of pro-democracy protesters by government security forces. 
It’s a tough decision for the Brits with the upcoming report and all. Anything short of calling the Brotherhood a terrorist organisation will definitely set off some steam in Cairo, Riyadh and Dubai. 
Assume the “t” word is use against the Brotherhood in Egypt, will the same courtesy be extended to the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria? After all, they are fighting a government that the West would like to see removed from the face of the earth. 
The UK has a long record of providing people who are persecuted politically a place to reside. It’s a good principle. Let’s hope it maintains this principle and does not give in because a few Arab allies don’t like the Muslim Brotherhood.