Published On: Wed, Apr 2nd, 2014
MainBlock / NEWS | By bmcsr | عدد المشاهدات 728

The British Ambassador To Saudi Arabia Examining The Brotherhoods

In net-curtained rooms above a disuse d kebab shop on Cricklewood Broadway, a small group of middle-aged men were at work as usual when they found themselves at the centre of a national terror warning.

In offices sandwiched between a TV repair shop and a hair salon in the north-west London suburb, the men produce an Arabic-language site supporting Egypt’s now banned Muslim Brotherhood.

At the same time, the prime minister announced a high-level investigation into whether the group – one of the Arab world’s most powerful political organisations – was heading towards “violent extremism” in Britain and elsewhere.

David Cameron said Sir John Jenkins, the British ambassador to Saudi Arabia, would examine the Brotherhood’s “philosophy and values and alleged connections with extremism and violence” alongside state security chiefs.

The launch of the inquiry meant the search for evidence of the Brotherhood’s British operation was on. But those who spoke to the Guardian from the redbrick offices above the Flame Kebab takeaway were flummoxed to find the organisation they supported subject to investigation about possible use of extremist violence, especially since it won Egypt’s presidential election in 2012, only to be overthrown in a military coup a year later.

“It’s rubbish,” said Mohamed Ghamen, a 67-year-old British citizen who came to the UK from Egypt. He introduced himself as a director of World Media Services, which he said was a not-for-profit limited company that publishes the pro-Brotherhood website ikhwanpress.org (translation: Brotherhood Press).

“The Muslim Brotherhood announce everywhere they are not using force or violence,” Ghamen said. “They are people who have a particular understanding of Islam which is far away from violence. They are not violent and they are not militant.” He said that of the five people working in the offices, “All are affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood through thinking and ideas, but we are not part of the organisation.”

Cameron said the government’s inquiry aimed to uncover any “path of extremism and violent extremism, what its connections are with other groups, what its presence is here in the United Kingdom”.

Even though their website is not official – another, IKhwanweb, claims to be the only official English site and is also based in London – this is not the first time the modest premises of World Media Services have attracted attention.

In January, after a Daily Mail article identified the office as “the centre of operations for Egypt’s once-mighty Muslim Brotherhood”, far-right activists from a group called Britain First protested on the pavement opposite under the banner “Muslim Brotherhood Not Welcome!”

A flyer for the event, which was opposed by a large group of anti-racism campaigners, said it was a demonstration against “sharia, jihad, genocide, terrorism”. Local shopkeepers recalled a standoff between about 20 far-right activists on one side of the street and about 50 anti-racism campaigners.

A Foreign Office spokesman denied that the ambassador to Saudi Arabia had been chosen to lead the inquiry because of any pressure from the Saudi kingdom and said Sir John Jenkins was selected because he was “a top arabist”.

In Cairo, Hoda Abdel Moniem, a senior official in the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, said the Downing Street investigation was part of a strategy to “remove the Brotherhood from the political scene”.