Ahmed Abou Douh is an Egyptian writer. His article was translated and adapted from the Arabic. It was initially published by the London-based Al Arab newspaper.

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  • The roots of the UK’s problem

    To pin down the source of the ploy, look no further than the Muslim Brotherhood.

    2017/03/26 Issue: 99 Page: 2

    The London events were expected. Even the British knew that a new terrorist act was inevitable.

    The attacker at the British Parliament is not an un­known. British intelligence services kept a file on him and knew that he was born in Britain and that he was a religious extremist. This kind of knowledge is useless if not fol­lowed by deeds.

    The whole affair is the result of a grand ploy with two facets. There are first the seeds of religious extremism planted by political Islamists in Europe. These seeds have produced a new generation of extremist ideas. The second facet is the theory of moderate Islam, which Islamists were very keen to spoon-feed Europeans.

    To pin down the source of the ploy, look no further than the Mus­lim Brotherhood.

    For decades now, the inter­national network of the Muslim Brotherhood has used London as a launch pad for its interna­tional activities. The Brotherhood’s presence in London created the appropriate environment for the spread of the kind of ideas behind the attack in the city.

    The Muslim Brotherhood always adapts its approach to its environ­ment. In the Middle East and the Arab world, the Brotherhood gets into people’s hearts and minds through social solidarity and dubi­ous charities. In Britain, however, a tight system of social security allows needy people to enjoy a decent living. So the Brotherhood must find other ways to the hearts and minds of the Muslim com­munities in Britain and Europe. This magic key is intellectual and ideological solidarity.

    The Muslim Brothers see them­selves as the rightful guardians of the faithful in the West. No wonder then that all mosques, charities, proselytising centres, pilgrimage and Umrah agencies and Zakat collection centres have been gradu­ally transformed into Brotherhood agencies. Anywhere Muslims gather in Europe, a collection for the Brotherhood is taken.

    The Brotherhood and its Salafist allies in the West have claimed a monopoly on converting people to Islam and concomitantly on recruiting potential new volunteers for the Islamic State (ISIS), al-Qae­da and other jihadist organisations. In Britain today it is almost impos­sible to find a new convert to Islam with moderate ideas.

    The problem in Britain is that the government still cannot identify among Muslims individual spiritual or intellectual leaders with whom it can communicate and who can in fact contain this community. But then who says that Muslims need a guardian? Is it acceptable to ap­point a guard for every potentially turbulent community?

    So, what is Britain to do? What can Britain do when in 2017 some Muslims still insist on living ac­cording to injunctions and beliefs belonging to the first and second centuries of Islamic history?

    If Britain, France, Germany and Belgium have all accepted to live with the Muslim Brothers and other types of extremists, it is because they couldn’t find alternatives to fill the widen­ing gap between their societies and the Muslim world. With the rise of populism and the extreme right in Europe and the United States, Euro­pean governments are facing a real problem. Muslims in their countries are feeling insecure.

    Right-wing leaders in Europe and the United States know very well the social influence of the Islamic right. They offer a simple proposi­tion: “If Muslim leaders in Muslim countries refuse to reform extrem­ist ideology, then we don’t have to accept all of these waves of Muslim refugees.” The bare-bones logic of the proposition appeals to masses of people.

    The obstacle facing reforma­tion of Islamic thought is again the Muslim Brotherhood. It controls the al-Azhar institution in Egypt and all official religious institutions in a good number of Muslim countries. Being in control of these institutions has always been a major objective of the Brotherhood, as important as infiltrating the army and the police and seizing political power.

    We are now witnessing the third stage of providing ideological cover and logistical support to extrem­ists everywhere. Al-Azhar scholars may not have meant to theorise for extremist organisations such as ISIS and al-Qaeda but they have not explicitly condemned them either.

    Europe is losing faith in the Muslim world. But Britain, in par­ticular, must face its own Islamist problem. The social and ideological environment created by the Muslim Brothers must be contained and deactivated.

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