Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 16 December 2019

Muslim Brotherhood can no longer hide its true colours

The group's very real links to radicalisation have been highlighted by a former member's revelations

Abdulrahman Al Suwaidi, who was convicted of being a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Wam
Abdulrahman Al Suwaidi, who was convicted of being a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Wam

In a revealing interview last week, former Muslim Brotherhood member Abdulrahman Al Suwaidi, who was jailed for his membership and subsequently pardoned by President Sheikh Khalifa, said the group is reeling from a wave of defections. “We lived under a delusion,” he said, reporting that the Brotherhood’s efforts to destabilise Arab nations have seen its membership figures fall. This is unsurprising given the extremism that the group stands for.

However, the Muslim Brotherhood remains a potent threat across the Middle East. Behind its attempt at crafting an image of an organisation with political aims are links with violent extremism that are quite simply too dangerous to ignore. In Istanbul and other Turkish cities, the Brotherhood is operating in plain sight, with the tacit endorsement of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

And it is not confined to Turkey. Its spiritual leader, Yusuf Al Qaradawi, who has repeatedly spread hate and defended deadly acts, was able to set up a private foundation, the European Council for Fatwa and Research, which today operates in the Irish capital, Dublin. The UAE designated the Brotherhood a terrorist organisation in 2014, as have other countries, and the group's armed factions have targeted tourists in Egypt this year as part of a grim campaign of violence aimed at bringing chaos to the country.

Still, the Brotherhood is adept at concealing its true motives and presenting itself as a legitimate political organisation – hoodwinking ordinary citizens in the process. Many have fallen foul of the law by donating to causes, from building mosques to digging wells in disadvantaged areas, all the while pumping funds into the Brotherhood’s coffers.

Meanwhile, as The National reported this month, a dangerous hate app linked to the Brotherhood has found its way into the top 100 downloads on the Apple store in a third of European countries since its launch in April. At one point, it was ranked as high as 55th in the German App store. Touted as a guide to help Muslims adhere to their faith, the app is actually a tool of radicalisation. There are even concerns that it led to a nail bomb attack in Lyon last month, which injured 13 people.

It reflects the sinister ways in which the Brotherhood uses social media and the internet to foster extremism. Al Suwaidi’s comments were vital to pull back the cloak of civility and show the extremist group for what it really is.

Updated: June 22, 2019 02:36 PM

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