The United Kingdom declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group after an 18-month study ordered by British Prime Minister David Cameron — and the Obama administration slammed the document as flying in the face of the Brotherhood's history as a "nonviolent Islamist group."
The report, which Cameron presented to the House of Commons on Thursday, described the Muslim Brotherhood as anti-democratic, openly supportive of terrorism, dedicated to establishing an Islamist government — and opposed to the rule of law, individual liberty, and equality.
"Aspects of the Muslim Brotherhood's ideology and activities … run counter to British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, equality and the mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs," Cameron said in a statement
with the report's release. "The Muslim Brotherhood is not the only movement that promotes values which appear intolerant of equality and freedom of faith and belief."
"Nor is it the only movement or group dedicated in theory to revolutionizing societies and changing existing ways of life," he continued. "But I have made clear this government's determination to reject intolerance, and to counter not just violent Islamist extremism, but also to tackle those who create the conditions for it to flourish."
"The main findings of the review support the conclusion that membership of, association with, or influence by the Muslim Brotherhood should be considered as a possible indicator of extremism," Cameron said.
As a result, the prime minister said that the U.K. government would continue to refuse visas to Muslim Brotherhood members and associates and take other steps that included increasing surveillance on the group's activities and whether these actions could be prosecuted.
Britain also will continue to uphold the European Community's freeze on the assets of Hamas, another terrorist group with ties to the Brotherhood, Cameron said.
The Obama administration quickly condemned the report in a statement to the Investigative Project on Terrorism,
saying that the Muslim Brotherhood had a history of nonviolence and that opposing the group could lead some members to become radicalized.
The "political repression of nonviolent Islamist groups has historically contributed to the radicalization of the minority of their members who would consider violence," the administration said. "The de-legitimization of non-violent political groups does not promote stability, and instead advances the very outcomes that such measures are intended to prevent."
President Barack Obama has long embraced the Muslim Brotherhood and has defended and promoted Islam in an effort to fight Islamophobia.
In January, the State Department
hosted a delegation of leaders aligned with the organization.
In 2011, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told Congress
that the Muslim Brotherhood has "pursued social ends, a betterment of the political order in Egypt."
"In other countries, there are also chapters or franchises of the Muslim Brotherhood, but there is no overarching agenda, particularly in pursuit of violence, at least internationally."
And in a 2009 interview
with Al-Arabiya, a Saudi-based television network, Obama said: "My job is to communicate to the American people that the Muslim world is filled with extraordinary people who simply want to live their lives and see their children live better lives."
"My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy."
Here are some key statements from Cameron's report:
- "The founder and first Supreme Guide (spiritual leader), Hassan al Banna, called for the religious reformation of individual Muslims, the progressive moral purification of Muslim societies and their eventual political unification in a caliphate under sharia law."
- "There is little evidence that the experience of power in Egypt … has caused a rethinking in the Muslim Brotherhood of its ideology or conduct. U.K. official engagement with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood produced no discernible change in their thinking. Indeed even by mid-2014, statements from Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood-linked media platforms seem to have deliberately incited violence."
- "Literature in the Muslim Brotherhood movement in this country continues to reflect some of the concerns of the foundational Muslim Brotherhood ideology, notably that Western society is inherently hostile to Muslim faith and interests and that Muslims must respond by maintaining their distance and autonomy."
- "Material still being promoted by UKIM [U.K. Islamic Mission] as of July 2014 continued to explicitly claim that it is not possible for an observant Muslim to live under a non-Islamic system of government."
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