UK Muslim group threatens government with legal action

Organization with alleged links to Muslim Brotherhood could face restrictions in government crackdown.

The Muslim Association of Britain has said it will take the British government to court if it attempts to place any restrictions on the organization over allegations it is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.

The declaration came on Thursday days after a British newspaper report – attributed to government officials leaking information – suggested that, although the Muslim Brotherhood, the transnational Islamic group founded in Egypt, would not be designated a terrorist organization, the government would “crack down” on it.

 According to the Telegraph newspaper, up to 60 organizations in the U.K. with alleged links to the Muslim Brotherhood are to come under scrutiny, including charities, think tanks and even television channels.

Khalil Charles, spokesperson for the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), told Anadolu Agency: “There’s nothing in law that proscribes what we do or what we intend to do.”

“All of these things must happen within existing laws … anything else that they [government officials] chose to do, within my estimation, would be outside the law and therefore it would be challenged.”

Charles acknowledged the U.K. government could attempt to restrict what the Muslim Association of Britain does, but he said: “Yes, we expect that there will be different pathways and difficulties with things that we want to do but, because we are not doing anything illegal, we would challenge anything that stops our right to do what we need to do.”

Report ‘delayed’

In April, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced a review into the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood in the U.K., which would also look into the government’s policy towards the organization and its impact on the U.K.’s national security and foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East.

Led by Britain’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Sir John Jenkins, a report was due to be completed before the summer recess of parliament.

However, AA has learned that the report has been delayed until the autumn.

Saudi Arabia and Egypt have both designated the Muslim Brotherhood a “terrorist organization” and recent reports suggested members of the organization have fled to the U.K. to escape possible discrimination in the two countries.

Khalil Charles told AA that, although the organisation shared “the main principles that the Muslim Brotherhood… including its commitment to uphold democracy, freedom of the individual, social justice and the creation of a civil society” it was “not a branch or an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood”.

After publication of the Telegraph article, Britain’s first female Muslim cabinet minister – former Foreign Office Minister Sayeeda Warsi – took to Twitter to criticize the leak.

She posted: “The ‘source’ in this piece uses lines used by one of my ex-Cabinet colleagues. V[ery] worrying if he is the leak, as suggests sanctioned leak.”

‘Al Capone method’

Warsi then tweeted again, raising her concerns of a potential crackdown on organisations allegedly linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Re-interpreting comments in the article, she tweeted: “‘We can go after single individuals, not for terrorist-related activity, b[u]t through the Al Capone method of law enforcement’ this is policy?”

She then added: “‘We cannot get them for terrorism, but I bet you they don’t pay their taxes’ This is policy too?!”

Warsi resigned from the government in August, saying its policy over Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge” assault on Gaza in July – in which more than 2,200 Palestinians were killed, including more than 500 children – was “morally indefensible”.

Charles also told AA that the organisation believed “the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood is neither extreme nor has it ever endorsed the use of violence”.

British daily the Financial Times reported in August that a delay in the publication of the report had been due to government fears of Arab allies’ displeasure over it stopping short of recommending a “terrorist” label for the Brotherhood.

 Deadly attacks

Charles said that he did not want to “speculate” as to why the report had been delayed but, from what he had read from the leaks in newspapers, he believed the report had “vindicated” the Muslim Brotherhood as no links to terrorism had been found, given there was no recommendation to ban it.

The MAB confirmed that they had attended official meetings with a government inquiry group and outlined their position.

MAB said it told the group its organisation was separate from the Muslim Brotherhood, but there could be MAB members who were also part of it, adding “that is entirely up to them [as individuals]”.

Downing Street said that the report had been completed in the summer and passed to ministers and would be released in the autumn, but denied the release had been delayed.

Mohamed Morsi – Egypt’s first freely elected leader and a Brotherhood leader – was removed by the Egyptian military in a coup d’etat in July last year.

Egypt’s government, which launched a sustained crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood after Morsi’s removal from power, has accused it of sponsoring deadly attacks on security personnel in Egypt over the past year.

The group has denied the claims.

Read the original article published in Anadolu Agency on 23 October 2014

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