By Arab News
By Nathalie Goulet and Ghanem Nuseibeh*
Fighting the Muslim Brotherhood should be at the top of the agenda of the next Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) meeting in Makkah on May 30. When the Brotherhood cannot come in through the door, they go through the window — currently via the window of your computers and smartphones.
The European Council for Fatwa and Research recently launched what it called a “Euro Fatwa App” out of Dublin. Its main audience was Britain and it was heavily promoted by mosques in the UK that are affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood.
The head of the organization behind the app was a certain Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, a Qatar-based Egyptian cleric considered to be the spiritual head of the Muslim Brotherhood. Al-Qaradawi was banned from entering the UK in 2008 and is also banned from entering France, the US, the UAE and Ireland, amongst other countries, because of his extremist views. What the app aimed to do was exploit technology and infiltrate the homes of ordinary Muslims in Britain. He may have been banned from physically entering the UK, but Al-Qaradawi’s app was to become a vehicle for his extremist preaching. It was based in Dublin, possibly as a test by his organization on British-European cooperation amidst the Brexit negotiations.
The app included many extremist and anti-Semitic views. It aimed to not only incite anti-Semitism, but also to isolate Muslim communities from mainstream European life.
Lawmakers in both the UK and Europe, including French senator Nathalie Goulet — co-author of this column — were made aware of the app. And, after Google was alerted to its existence by the Sunday Times, the company 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 combating extremism.
The app was one example of the dangers that all of Europe faces, whether the UK is inside or outside the EU. The most potent and dangerous organization that operates across Europe with apparent immunity is the Muslim Brotherhood. The app was an example of one of the tools it uses, but it has many others at its disposal, including charities, madrasas 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.” In 2017, the Manchester Arena terrorist attack took place, with the bomber, Salman Abedi, reportedly being at least partly radicalized at a Muslim Brotherhood-run mosque.
Extremists adapt rapidly to changing circumstances and they are quick adopters of 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 the 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 took the issue of the Muslim Brotherhood seriously. Europeans deserve to know what this group is doing on the continent. Governments need to support the anti-extremism fight that ordinary, moderate Muslims are involved with daily. I hope they act before it is too late.
Even though he is banned from the country, is sought by Interpol and is financed and hosted by Qatar, Al-Qaradawi is still trying to spread his ideology in France. On Saturday, a tax-deductible charitable dinner in aid of Mauritania’s Markaz Takwin Al-Ulama (Center for the Training of Islamic Scholars) is due to take place in Saint-Denis, near Paris. It has been preceded by a tour of 12 conferences and fundraisers. This institute, which is close to the Muslim Brotherhood, was closed by the Mauritanian authorities last year because it taught radical Islam.
At the Saint-Denis event, a video conference will be provided by the group’s leader, Sheikh Mohammed Ould Dedew, who is known for preaching radical, anti-Semitic thinking and for teaching men how to beat their wives and children. Meanwhile, the floor will be taken by Dr. Mahfoud Ould Ibrahim, who is also known for extremism. How can we explain that this type of event, which is potentially dangerous for Europe’s security, is being allowed? It will provide clear support for a prohibited, Muslim Brotherhood-aligned group in Mauritania.
We are acting against our interests by allowing such an event. Mauritania is a member of the G5 Sahel that France supports with its troops.
A year on from the #NoMoneyForTerror conference in Paris, we can now see that money still flies from the suburbs of the French capital to Mauritania under the cover of Zakat. One can imagine the colossal amount of money that can be raised in Europe during the holy month of Ramadan, and that is why we need to follow the example of the UAE and Saudi Arabia in terms of good practices when collecting Zakat. We need to trace the money and prohibit cash from being used to support the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliated organizations.
We in France cannot send soldiers to secure West Africa from religious extremism and terrorism and, at the same time, allow people connected to the Brotherhood to fundraise within our borders. This attitude is totally schizophrenic.
It is also why we need to launch a crusade against the Euro Fatwa App and its like, both in Europe and in the many Muslims countries that are fighting against terrorism.
The question of the app must be discussed at the upcoming GCC summit.
No more words, we need action.
- Nathalie Goulet is a member of the Senate of France, representing the Orne department (Normandy). Twitter: @senateur61. Ghanem Nuseibeh is chairman of Muslims Against Anti-Semitism. Twitter: @gnuseibeh