Egypt MPs slam new UK guidance on granting MB members political asylum

Gamal Essam El-Din , Tuesday 9 Aug 2016

A file photo of Egyptian Parliament, Photo taken January 10, 2016. (AFP)

The UK Home Office's recent decision to grant politically active Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood members the right to seek asylum in the United Kingdom under certain conditions has drawn sharp criticism in Egypt's political circles.

In parliament, a number of MPs have said that the decision – which states that Brotherhood members in Egypt are eligible for asylum if they can prove a threat of persecution – clearly provides renewed evidence of the UK's long-time tolerant attitude towards Islamist extremists.

The MPs also question the logic behind the decision given that a UK government review concluded last December that membership or links to the Muslim Brotherhood should be considered a possible indicator of extremism.

Abdel-Rehim Ali, an independent MP and a high-profile researcher on the Muslim Brotherhood, told reporters Tuesday that the decision reveals a double-standard in UK policy.

"They said last December that links to the Muslim Brotherhood should be considered a possible indicator of extremism, and now after eight months they say members of the group, including supporters and journalists, can seek political asylum in the UK," said Ali.

"The biggest mistake in England and Western circles is that they label the Muslim Brotherhood as a political group, but the fact is that this group exploits politics to advance an extremist Islamist agenda," Ali said.

"They do not join politics to improve people's lives or to promote moderate Islam or because they believe in liberal democracy," said Ali. "The Muslim Brotherhood primarily joins politics to advance their strict code of Islam and finally establish a Sunni religious state."

Ali argued that the UK's tolerant attitude towards the Muslim Brotherhood since the 1960s has turned London into Europe's biggest hub for Islamist radicals.

"London, or Londonistan, has become Europe's hotbed of Islamist extremists and a major base for spreading the jihadist ideology in the West and recruiting possible jihadists," said Ali.

Britain's former prime minister David Cameron said after the UK's December review on the Muslim Brotherhood that Britain would continue to refuse visas to members and associates of the group who have expressed "extremist" views, as well as intensify scrutiny of the activities of Muslim Brotherhood members, associates and affiliates.

"We see now that the UK Home Office's new decision by no means reflects intensifying scrutiny of the Muslim Brotherhood's activities, and by contrast it allows this radical group to gain more ground in Britain," said Ali.

Ali blames "radical liberal and leftist circles in England and the West" for giving cover for radical Islamist forces to spread and gain a foothold in Europe and America.

"Under the false slogans of respect for human rights and protection from Arab persecution and dictatorships, these circles have helped market the world's most dangerous Islamist extremist groups and grant them a safe haven to proliferate and recruit dozens of young men that now go to Syria to join Daesh [the Islamic State militant group]," said Ali.

Mostafa Bakri, an independent MP and journalist, also said in an "urgent statement" that the UK's new decision gives a large boost to "terrorism and terrorists."

"The new decision clearly contradicts with David Cameron's review which concluded last December that ties to the Brotherhood should be considered a possible indicator of extremism,” Bakri said.

"It is also an interference in Egypt's internal affairs, not to mention that the British state's decision opens doors for extremists and radicals to proliferate on British soil," said Bakri.

Bakri said that Egypt's parliament and foreign ministry must move quickly to stand up to this “pro-Brotherhood” campaign in England.

"We must take all legal and diplomatic measures against the UK government’s pro-radical Islam policies that incite violence against Egypt and the Arab region," said Bakri.

Bakri argued that the decision clearly allows leading Muslim Brotherhood officials who participated in violent protests following the removal of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi or delivered violent threats against the Egyptian state to now seek political asylum in Britain.

Osama Sharshar, another independent MP, told Ahram Online that he is completely surprised that the UK's new decision comes just one week after a number of British MPs visited Egypt and promised to advise the UK's new prime minister Teresa May to scrutinise Muslim Brotherhood activities in Britain and to restore British flights to Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh.

"According to an official statement," said Sharshar, "parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Al urged the British parliamentary delegation last week to conduct more research on the radical nature of the Muslim Brotherhood or to use England as a base for inciting violence against Egypt, but what we see now is that the UK is moving in the opposite direction, giving this radical group a golden opportunity to gain greater a foothold in the West."

Sharshar also questioned the timing of the decision after "an Egyptian-British parliamentary friendship association" was formed last week.

"I wonder if this association can take any move to show British MPs the dangers of the UK government's new decision," said Sharshar.

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