Membership or link to Muslim Brotherhood not proof of extremism: UK

Amer Sultan, Wednesday 5 Feb 2014

The UK government confirms that 'provided they do not break UK law or immigration rules' Muslim Brotherhood members and affiliates are welcome to 'operate freely' on British soil

File photo: Second from left Mohamed Saad El-Katatni, Muslim Brotherhood guidance bureau member, and centre Egyptian Secretary General of the organisation Mahmoud Hussein. Next to him is president of Freedom and Justice Party, Mohamed Morsi, and party vice-president Essam El-Errian. (Photo: AP)

The UK government has expressed its conviction that membership or links to the Muslim Brotherhood is not proof of extremism, adding that Brotherhood activists are free to operate in the UK so long as they respect its national laws.

A number of Brotherhood leaders and activists who fled to the UK following the ouster of Egypt's Islamist president Mohamed Morsi are politically and publically active against the military-backed government in Egypt.

"The UK allows members of all political groups to operate freely, provided they do not break UK law or immigration rules," the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) told Ahram Online.

"Muslim Brotherhood [members are] subject to the same immigration rules as everyone else," the official added.

London had rejected the Egyptian government’s designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation, insisting the group is legal in the UK.

Furious about Brotherhood activists being allowed to reside in, and operate from, UK soil, Egyptian media figures and politicians have accused the UK government of promoting terrorism and extremism.

The FCO spokesman, however, confirms that "membership or links to the Muslim Brotherhood in the UK are not considered, in themselves, proof of extremism, or links to extremist activity," asserting that his country takes any extremist activity in the UK "very seriously."

"Extremist or illegal behaviour will be challenged and those whose presence here is not welcome will be excluded," the spokesman added.

While confirming it does not support any political party in Egypt, the UK government said it encourages an inclusive political system which represents all groups in society, including the Muslim Brotherhood, as the "best way to serve stability and security, in the long run, in Egypt."

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