x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 September 2017

Brotherhood ban remains justified

British review of the Muslim Brotherhood in the UK confirms the group’s potential danger

A British parliamentary assessment of political Islam in the UK has confirmed suspicions about the Muslim Brotherhood's aims. Luke MacGregor / Reuters
A British parliamentary assessment of political Islam in the UK has confirmed suspicions about the Muslim Brotherhood's aims. Luke MacGregor / Reuters

Few people who enjoy the peace and stability of the UAE would think this state of affairs has happened by chance. The turbulence blighting much of our region goes to show how readily life can descend into being, as 17th-century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes memorably put it, “nasty, brutish and short”. Hobbes’s point was that smart and pragmatic decisions by those in charge make the difference between living in peace or in a violent dystopia.

This principle – that peace and stability have to be achieved rather than being the default option – is relevant in the British government’s recent review of its policy towards the Muslim Brotherhood in the United Kingdom. The Foreign Affairs Committee upheld its earlier conclusion that the Brotherhood’s activities and aspirations in the UK are of concern but fell short of the threshold justifying a ban on the group.

The governments of the UAE and Saudi Arabia have gone further and designated the Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation. As courts in the UAE have found, Muslim Brotherhood members from within and outside the UAE have plotted to seize control from the Government.

Observers in this region also cannot overlook the Muslim Brotherhood’s recent history in Egypt, when Mohammed Morsi, the candidate it backed, took part in the democratic process and became president in elections after the downfall of Hosni Mubarak. However, once in power, the group began subverting democracy and was in the process of consolidating its power when the army intervened. In a subsequent election, former army chief Abdel Fattah El Sisi became president.

Hobbes’s famous quote comes from his 1651 book, Leviathan, which was written during the English civil war. Its main point was that stability and peace required strong and undivided government – exactly what Muslim Brotherhood plotters have sought to destroy here and in other Arab capitals. To that end, the latest UK report confirms what we already know: maintaining our peaceful way of life requires constant vigilance.