Five years after terror attacks in Paris killed 130 innocent civilians, Europe is still suffering at the hands of Islamist extremists. The recent attack in Vienna, claimed by Isis, demonstrated the determination of those who seek to spread their intolerance across the world. The gunman, who shot dead four people and wounded more than a dozen others, had been jailed last year for trying to travel to join the group in Syria. It is clear that the group’s poisonous, transnational ideology of hate knows no bounds.
The violence will continue until we have an honest conversation about the relationship between violent extremists and their ‘non-violent’ sympathisers. For too long, the so-called ‘peaceful’ Islamist groups have provided legitimacy and political cover for those who commit atrocities in the name of Islam. The Muslim Brotherhood (MB), for example, has been creating the mood music for terrorist attacks in different parts of the world, including Europe.
The MB has laid the ideological foundations for scores of Muslims to turn to violence in defence of Islamist ideology. The argument goes that, because Western societies are hostile to Islam and to Muslim communities, Islam is ‘under attack’. Consequently, it is suggested by some, Muslims have the right to defend their religion through violence, even against innocent civilians. In doing so, they facilitate attacks by Isis and the tragic events recently witnessed in Vienna become inevitable.
For those of us who have had to live with the MB, this should come as no surprise. In Egypt, we have sadly seen that some are still tempted by the lure of the MB, which aims to distort and sully Egypt’s image. In the twelve months following the June 2012 elections, Egypt entered into the dark tunnel of political Islam. Egypt was fast becoming another Taliban state.
It’s no secret that the MB and their benefactors in the Middle East haven’t forgiven Egypt for the upheaval which led to their removal from power in the summer of 2013. For that reason, the MB and its allies have become hysterical in their attempt to undermine Egypt’s progress and invent a fictitious narrative to suit their ends.
Al-Jazeera and other media outlets have dedicated significant airtime to concocting an alternative reality in Egypt of non-existent upheaval. Yet the threat posed by the MB is as great today as it has ever been. They do not believe in the notion of a civil nation state that the West takes for granted. Their dream of Caliphate rule and pursuit of the strictest application of the most conservative version of Islam is simply anathema to human civilisation.
The MB’s highest spiritual guru, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, has justified suicide attacks against civilians, saying: 'It's not suicide, it is martyrdom in the name of God'. Ayman Al-Zawahiri, Bin Laden’s successor in the caves of Tora Bora, was a Muslim Brotherhood member.
The truth is that the MB is bad news for the entire world, not just for my country. Violence has never been far away from the Brotherhood since attempts in the 1960s to establish an armed military wing. Sayyid Qutb, widely regarded as the godfather of modern Salafi jihadism, was a leading MB figure during that period. According to his twisted teachings, jihad was a personal, individual responsibility, and it was incumbent on all Muslims to establish true Islamic rule in their own countries, including through violence if necessary. It’s perhaps no surprise that the violent dogma and ideology of groups like Daesh come directly from this line of thinking.
It’s also no surprise that when Sir John Jenkins (the then-British ambassador to Saudi Arabia) was tasked with reviewing the Muslim Brotherhood in 2014 on behalf of the UK government, he concluded that the Brotherhood is 'prepared to countenance violence – including, from time to time, terrorism – where gradualism is ineffective'. He also wrote that 'aspects of Muslim Brotherhood ideology and tactics, in this country and overseas, are contrary to our values and have been contrary to our national interests and our national security'.
The Muslim Brotherhood's attempts to disrupt Egyptian politics have long been known. What is less talked about is how they have sought to inject their brand of conservative, literalist Islam into Britain and the West at large. In Jenkins' report, he wrote:
'Much about the Muslim Brotherhood in the UK remains secretive, including membership, fund raising and educational programmes. But Muslim Brotherhood associates and affiliates here have at times had significant influence on the largest UK Muslim student organisation, national organisations which have claimed to represent Muslim communities (and on that basis have sought and had a dialogue with Government), charities and some mosques'.
It is time for Britain, and the rest of the Western world, to speak out against the Muslim Brotherhood. Back in 2015, David Cameron said Jenkins' findings revealed the Brotherhood’s 'highly ambiguous relationship with violent extremism'. But in the five years since, not enough has been done in the way of acting on these words.
* Tarek Adel is Egypt’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom
* This article was rejected for publishing by a number of UK publications. The publications refused to publish the article even after the writer made a number of amendments that had been requested by these news organisations.