Some members of the Muslim Brotherhood have supported violence, and involvement with the group can be an indicator of terrorism — but, nevertheless, it should not be banned in Britain, the U.K. government said Thursday.
Last year, Prime Minister David Cameron ordered Britain’s intelligence agencies to investigate the philosophy and activities of the Islamist group, amid reports the Brotherhood was using London as a base to plan terror activities after a crackdown in Egypt.
The Brotherhood says it is a peaceful charitable and political organization, but opponents accuse it of orchestrating attacks on Egyptian police and military targets. It is considered a terrorist organization by British ally Saudi Arabia and by Egypt, where Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi was ousted as president in 2013.
The British review concluded that the Brotherhood’s form of political Islam is primarily “a political project,” but that a minority of its supporters in Egypt “have engaged alongside other Islamists in violent acts.”
“Individuals closely associated with the Muslim Brotherhood in the U.K. have supported suicide bombing and other attacks in Israel by Hamas,” the review said.
In a written summary of the findings, Cameron said aspects of the group’s ideology and activities “run counter to British values” and that membership is “a possible indicator of extremism.” But the government found the group’s views and activities didn’t meet the legal tests for a ban.
Cameron said the government would keep the Brotherhood’s activities under review, and refuse visas to members and associates who have made terrorist comments.
The Brotherhood, the Middle East’s oldest Islamist movement and long Egypt’s main political opposition, criticized the review as being unacceptable and politically motivated.
The group, which says it is committed to peaceful activism, said the British position suggested it backed the military’s overthrow of Mursi who was democratically elected president after the 2011 uprising.
“If Britain sees that peaceful protests and activities that reject the military coup, the killing of civilians and the detentions and disappearances as extremist then certainly Britain has a defect it needs to remedy,” the Brotherhood said in a statement.