Whatever side of the Brexit debate one may be on, Britain and the rest of Europe remain united in facing the threat of extremism. Extremists will waste no opportunity to try to exploit the perceived vacuum that Brexit may lead to. Luckily for us, they are wrong.
The Muslim Brotherhood recently launched what it called a “Euro Fatwa App” from Dublin. Its main audience has been Britain. It was heavily promoted by mosques in the UK affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood. The head of the organisation behind the app was a certain Yusuf Al Qaradawi, a Qatari cleric of Egyptian descent considered to be the spiritual head of the Muslim Brotherhood. Qaradawi was banned from entering the UK in 2008, and is also banned from entering France, the US and Ireland amongst other countries, for his extremist views.
He may have been banned physically from entering the UK, but his app was to become a vehicle for his extremist preaching. Based out of Dublin - this particular location was possibly chosen as a test by his organisation on the depth of British-European cooperation after Brexit - the app aimed to exploit technology and infiltrate the homes of ordinary Muslims in Britain.
The app propagated many extremist and antisemitic views. It aimed not only to incite antisemitism, but also to isolate Muslim communities from mainstream European life.
Lawmakers from both the UK and Europe - including French senator and co-author of this piece, Nathalie Goulet - were made aware of the app, and after Google Play were alerted by the Sunday Times of its existence, Google acted promptly and banned the app from its store. It was a victory for common sense and an example of how Britain needs to work closely with Europe in combatting extremism.
The app was only one example of the dangers that faces all of Europe - including the UK, whether inside or outside the EU. The most potent and dangerous organisation that operates across Europe with apparent immunity is the Muslim Brotherhood. The app was only an example of the tools they could have used. They have many other tools at their disposals, including charities, madrassahs and businesses.
The British government’s 2015 review of the Muslim Brotherhood concluded 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." Since then, the Manchester Arena terrorist attack took place in 2017 with the bomber, Salman Abedi, allegedly being radicalised at a Muslim Brotherhood-run mosque.
Extremists adapt rapidly with changing circumstances. They are quick to adopt new technology. The time has come for a serious review of the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood inside Europe. European countries, including Britain, need to look internally at the threat. This should not be connected to activities of the extremist group outside of Europe. Informal inter-European cooperation on the app was an example of how effective collaboration can be.
It is time European governments take the issue of the Muslim Brotherhood seriously. Europeans deserve to know what this group is doing in Europe.
Governments need to support the fight against anti-extremism that ordinary moderate Muslims are involved in daily. I hope they act before it is too late.
Nathalie Goulet is a Union of Democrats and Independents (UDI) senator for Orne and a member of the Finance Commission.
Ghanem Nuseibeh is the Chairman of Muslims Against Anti Semitism, UK.
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