Cameron orders inquiry into Muslim Brotherhood

British officials concerned investigation could help radicalise group

British prime minister David Cameron: “We want to make sure we fully understand what this organisation is  . . .” Photograph: EPA/Kirsty Wigglesworth

British prime minister David Cameron: “We want to make sure we fully understand what this organisation is . . .” Photograph: EPA/Kirsty Wigglesworth

 

Tensions have emerged in the British government over David Cameron’s decision to order an inquiry into Islamist group, the Muslim Brotherhood, to see if it should be classified as a terrorist organisation. The prime minister announced yesterday he had instructed John Jenkins, Britain’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, to report on the group’s “philosophy and values and alleged connections with extremism and violence” by the end of July.

But officials are concerned that the investigation could help radicalise what has historically been a moderate group and have questioned whether pressure from allies in the Gulf could be linked to Downing Street’s decision.

The Brotherhood’s fortunes have fallen steeply since one of its leaders, Mohamed Morsi, was ousted as Egypt’s president last year. Cairo’s military-backed interim government has designated the group a terrorist organisation and jailed its leaders.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, two of Britain’s closest diplomatic and commercial allies in the Middle East, have embarked on their own operations against the Brotherhood, with the Saudis following the Egyptian example of banning it altogether. Mr Cameron said: “We want to make sure we fully understand what this organisation is, what it stands for [and] what its links are. It’s an important piece of work because we will only get our policy right if we understand what we are dealing with.” – ( The Financial Times L imited 2014)