MB urges UK not to proceed with probe

The Muslim Brotherhood said ‘it is important’ that Britain not ‘bend’ to foreign pressure and review the Islamist movement’s operations

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The Muslim Brotherhood has urged Britain late Wednesday not to bow to foreign pressures after London’s recent announcement that it will launch a review into the operations of the Islamist movement.

“It is important that the British government does not bend to pressure from foreign governments who are concerned about their own people's quest for democracy,” the Brotherhood’s press office in London said in a statement, according to Reuters.

Writing in Al Arabiya News, director of The Council for Arab-British Understanding (CAABU) Chris Doyle explained that the investigation is possibly meant to appease Britain’s “key Middle Eastern partners who have declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization,” referring to Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

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Saudi Arabia, a commercial ally of Britain and staunch foe of the Muslim Brotherhood, designated the group a terrorist organization last month following a similar move by Egypt in December.

“In addition, the UAE is staunchly opposed to the group, as is Israel. Financially it might make sense for Britain to position itself in an expanding anti-Brotherhood alliance that includes such powerful actors and trade partners,” Doyle added.

The Muslim Brotherhood said that it would “openly engage” with the review ordered by Prime Minister David Cameron but it would challenge in the British courts “any improper attempt to restrict its activity.”

The movement, whose affiliated groups have deep roots in many Arab and Islamic states, said it was concerned that Britain’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, John Jenkins, would be leading the review.

“It is hard to see how Sir John Jenkins will be able to conduct an independent internal review of the Muslim Brotherhood and carry his brief as Ambassador to a non-democratic regime that is openly in political opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood,” the Muslim Brotherhood statement added.

Doyle said “many will speculate that [Jenkin’s] role will be to sell the findings in Riyadh as much as anything else. If he does not slam the movement, how will Jenkins manage relations with his furious hosts?”

When asked why Jenkins was leading the review, a spokeswoman for Cameron said on Tuesday it was because it would focus on the group across the region, not just Egypt, and Jenkins had deep knowledge of the Middle East.

After the 2011 uprisings that toppled autocratic rulers in Middle East and North Africa, the Muslim Brotherhood gained political power in some Arab nations.

In Egypt, the group was heavily suppressed with hundreds of its members recently given death sentences after the toppling of Islamist leader Mohammad Mursi in July by a popularly-backed coup.

Britain, where many Brotherhood-influenced organizations are based, said its review would include looking at allegations made by Arab leaders that the group was linked to violence, a charge the group has repeatedly denied.

Britain’s move follows increasing Arab repression of the Brotherhood especially in Egypt, where security forces have killed hundreds of Islamists and jailed thousands including almost all leaders of the movement since the army ousted Mursi.

The Brotherhood asked the review to consider what it said were “serious human rights abuses being conducted by the military regime in Egypt.”

“The British government should be cautious not to allow this review to be seen as an endorsement of the criminal acts which continue to be perpetrated against the people of Egypt,” the Brotherhood’s statement said.

The recent sentencing of 529 alleged Mursi supporters to death “barely merited a murmur of criticism from British politicians,” states Doyle.

The Egyptian government, which was given billions of dollars by Saudi Arabia to support its beleaguered economy, denies allegations of human rights violations.

(With Reuters)

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