A leading British Islamic organisation has condemned the United Arab Emirate for listing it as a terrorist organisation, vowing to challenge the action legally and diplomatically.
In its first reaction to the announcement, the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) questioned the basis under which the list was compiled.
“We express our total and utter condemnation of the UAE authorities who have recently placed our organisation and 84 others on a terrorist list,” Dr Omer El-Hamdoon, president of MAB, said at a news conference at the organisation's headquarters in London.
On Saturday, the UAE Cabinet formally designated 85 Islamic and charitable organisations as terrorist groups.
They include 14 organisations in Europe, four of them based in the UK.
The UAE also proscribed Muslim Relief UK, Cordoba Foundation and Islamic Relief Worldwide, which is allegedly part of the Muslim Brotherhood's global arm.
MAB, which has 11 branches in the UK, was founded in 1997. It says it is dedicated to serving society by promoting the accepted understanding of Islam with its spiritual teachings, ideals, civil concepts and moral values, all directed towards serving humanity.
“MAB believes that this so-called terrorist list cannot be taken seriously,” El-Hamdoon said, adding “it is issued from a government who operates a totalitarian regime, denying its citizens and migrant workers democratic rights.”
MAB is responsible for the upkeep, maintenance and management of a number of mosques throughout the UK. It also works closely with other mosques or trusts that manage mosques.
While denying any direct relation to the Muslim Brotherhood movement, MAB says it “shares some of the main principles that the Muslim Brotherhood stands for; like upholding democracy, freedom of the individual, social justice and the creation of a civil society.”
It added that it works closely with Muslim and non-Muslim groups of all denominations towards the goal of “building society and creating hope.”
It denies being an Islamist organisation nor supporting or endorsing Islamist ideology.
MAB decided to write to the UK government, especially the foreign ministry, to ask the UAE authorities to delete it from the list.
“The UK government has to intervene on behalf of us as British citizens and as a British organisation which is in compliance with the rules and regulations of the UK and has nothing to do whatsoever with terrorism or any other form of extreme ideology,” Al-Hamdoon explained.
Its charter says it is involved in propagating Islam to its members by providing talks and lectures, visits and outings and by providing informative articles and comments about issues of current affairs or news relevant to the British Muslim society in particular and to the wider British society as a whole.
The UAE government did not give any details about the reasons for proscribing these organisations.
The UAE official news agency said the aim of the resolution was to serve the purposes of transparency and raise awareness in society about these organisations.
The MAB president also announced his organisation will contact the UAE formally through its embassy in London, asking for an explanation of basis of listing MAB on the terror list.
Meanwhile, Al-Hamdoon said he will consult other UK and European organisations, which appeared on the UAE list, about the possibility of taking legal action against the UEA on suspicion of libel and defamation.
Mohamed Kozber, MAB deputy president, warned of the consequences of the UAE action.
“This opens the floodgates for an increase in Islamophobia all around the world and as consequences, marginalising the voices of many ordinary Muslims.”
The UAE's move echoed a similar move by Saudi Arabia in March amid expectation it would increase pressure on Qatar whose backing for the Muslim Brotherhood has sparked a row with fellow Gulf monarchies.
Last December, Egypt listed the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group.
At the top of the UAE terror list was Al-Islah group, a local Islamist group which is allegedly linked to Egypt's Brotherhood.
UAE authorities have cracked down on members of Al-Islah and jailed scores of Islamists convicted of forming an illegal branch of the Brotherhood.
However, Al-Islah denies any such link but says it shares some of the Brotherhood's Islamist ideology.