Proposed measures designed to curb the activities of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood in Britain are perverse and will only encourage the authoritarian military regime in Cairo to continue with its unrelenting campaign of repression against the political opposition.
The curbs are reported to be part of a report compiled by Sir John Jenkins, the ambassador to Saudi Arabia, commissioned last April and handed over to Downing Street in the last few days. They include applying restrictions to organisations linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and preventing the orgainsation’s leaders from moving to the UK.
Many of the group’s leaders fled to Britain after Egyptian authorities launched a brutal crackdown on the movement last summer. After pressure from Egyptian and conservative Gulf regimes which have outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation, Britain ordered a review of the Muslim Brotherhood’s activities.
The British government said the review was necessary to investigate allegations that the Brotherhood has been behind a spate of violence directed at the government, which seized power in 2013 in a military coup against the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood government.
IHRC believes the British government’s efforts to be misdirected. The Muslim Brotherhood is an avowedly non-violent organisation. There is little or no evidence pointing to its involvement in armed attacks against Egyptian authorities, On the contrary it has been on the receiving end of violence and repression. Since last July’s coup, thousands of the group’s activists and supporters, as well as secular reform activists, have been rounded up and jailed, and in many cases subjected to inhumane treatment and/or torture.
The scale of repression against political reform activists since the coup is almost unprecedented. Thousands of innocent protestors were killed, shot dead by police and the army, in the days following the coup in massacres that constituted crimes against humanity. Since the coup most of the main political opposition has been put behind bars. Opposition media has been all but silenced by the closure of media outlets and arrests of journalists deemed to be critical of the regime. Laws prohibiting public protests have been enacted and strongly enforced.
IHRC finds it somewhat ironic that the author of the report is the ambassador of a country that has made no bones about its desire not only to eliminate the Muslim Brotherhood but which has also financed and supported the Egyptian military in its brutal return to power. With it being widely documented that it is the military regime that is in fact the biggest source of terrorism in Egypt it seems perverse that the goverment should be concentrating its energies on applying sanctions against the opposition.
IHRC chair Massoud Shadjareh said: “It is a sign of the ethical depths to which Britain’s foreign policy has sunk that David Cameron is now preparing to apply restrictions on the victims of the most violent coup d’etats in recent history. It is a great pity to see Britain lining up behind authoritarian regimes to quash democratic reform instead of pressuring those governments into granting their people the fundamental human rights it claims to be trying to uphold around the world.”
Notes to Editors:
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