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UK not following Egypt's listing of Brotherhood as terrorist group

The UK will not automatically follow Egypt and designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation, says Home Office spokeswoman

Amer Sultan in London, Saturday 28 Dec 2013
Cairo clashes
Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi burn tires during clashes with security forces in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Dec. 27, 2013 (Photo: AP)
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The UK government has hinted it will not follow the Egyptian government's decision to proscribe the Muslim Brotherhood.

The UK hosts a considerable number of Brotherhood members and activists.

After the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood, 3 July, and the dispersal of sit-ins staged by his supporters at Rabaa Al-Adawiya and El-Nahda squares in Cairo 14 August, a number of the Islamist movement's spokesmen, members and activists moved to the UK.

The basis on which they have been given the right to reside it the UK is not clear.

On Wednesday, the interim Egyptian government declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group. The decision allows Article 86 of the Egyptian penal code, which defines terrorism and the penalties for engaging in it, to be invoked against the group.

The UK government did not immediately comment on the decision.

However, a UK Home Office spokeswoman told Ahram Online the UK authorities "are following local law and procedures on proscribing any organisation or group."

The UK has repeatedly called on the Egyptian government not exclude any group from the political process. It has also advised all parties, including the Muslim Brotherhood and all other Islamists, to stick to peaceful protests.

The UK says while it understands the need to maintain security, Egypt's pressing needs can only be met by pursuing a genuinely inclusive political process that involves all sides, rising above self-interest and shunning violence to deliver the reform and democratic transfer the Egyptian people deserve.

In August, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said any political transition in Egypt should involve a process of dialogue and reconciliation between all political parties in Egypt, including the Muslim Brotherhood.

"A (UK) decision to proscribe an organisation must be based on a belief that it is engaged in terrorism as defined in the Terrorism Act 2000, and it must be proportionate," the spokeswoman added.

Under the UK Terrorism Act 2000, the home secretary may proscribe an organisation if he or she believes it is engaged in terrorism.

Since the terrorism law came into force around 13 years ago, 52 international organisations, including the Egyptian Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya and Islamic Jihad, are proscribed under UK law.

The law defines any organisation or group as terrorist if it commits or participates in acts of terrorism, prepares for terrorism, promotes or encourages terrorism, including the glorification of terrorism, or is otherwise engaged with terrorism.

The home secretary can take into account the extent of the given organisation’s presence in the UK.  

Other factors considered include the nature and scale of an organisation’s activities, the specific threat that it poses to the UK, the specific threat that it poses to British nationals overseas, the extent of the organisation’s presence in the UK, and the need to support other members of the international community in the global fight against terrorism.

The penalties for terrorism offences are a maximum of 10 years in prison and/or a fine decided by the courts.

The spokeswoman refused to say whether the Egyptian government has the right to make a presentation to the UK government asking it to ban the Muslim Brotherhood in the UK.

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