The Henry Jackson Society (HJS) welcomes the Prime Minister’s statement on the review into the Muslim Brotherhood, which rightly recognises the group’s extremist ideology and activities as running counter to British values. The statement identifies aspects of the Brotherhood’s philosophy, disseminated over decades of activism in the UK and overseas, that directly contradict values such as democracy, individual liberty, equality, or mutual respect and tolerance – an important judgement on a dangerous ideology.
HJS also welcomes the government’s commitment to continue investigations into allegations of violence carried out by supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood. The review rightly questions the Muslim Brotherhood’s claims that it has been consistently peaceful and renounced all forms of violence.
This is supported by HJS research which has long detailed the influence of Muslim Brotherhood thinkers on the development of the ideologies espoused by jihadist groups such as Al-Qaeda, as well as on its own affiliates like Hamas. For example, HJS work has examined the rulings made about the actions of Palestinian terrorists by the influential Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, justifying the use of suicide bombings in Israel and excusing the killing of civilians which resulted from such operations.
As the Prime Minister said earlier this year, if one believes “violence in London isn’t justified, but suicide bombs in Israel are a different matter – then you too are part of the problem.” Together with the government’s acknowledgement that the Muslim Brotherhood has at best “a highly ambiguous relationship with violent extremism”, this evidence should ensure the group’s claims to be entirely non-violent are given short shrift in future.
There is also welcome recognition of the Muslim Brotherhood’s pernicious influence in the UK through a network of front-groups, activists and sympathisers. These organisations, in which the review includes the Muslim Council of Britain, have in the past sought to portray themselves as singularly representative of British Muslims and sought engagement and influence over government policy on this basis. HJS has long highlighted these connections and detailed the ongoing failures of civic and political institutions in effectively using existing regulation to challenge such groups.
Following the welcome review, it is vital that robust action is now taken on the basis of the review’s findings in order to ensure UK institutions take all necessary steps to defend themselves and wider British society from any harmful influence of the Muslim Brotherhood. This should include ensuring that the group is never again provided with the legitimacy gained through engagement with government or parliamentarians, and that charities and public sector institutions are aware of the reputational risk any association with the group will bring.
In addition, the group should face robust challenge wherever it seeks to operate within civic spaces, with any current relationships subject to immediate review and disassociation where appropriate. Where the group’s members or affiliates seek to undermine government counter-extremism and counter-terrorism efforts, they should be challenged vigorously and exposed to be working against the national security interests of the United Kingdom.
Opposing those groups whose values run counter to our own is a vital part of protecting the UK’s diverse and inclusive society in this challenging age, where harmful ideology respects no institution or border.
The recognition of the extremist nature of Muslim Brotherhood ideology and activities outlined by the Prime Minister today should ensure an end to the group’s influence in in any part of British society.