Since it was announced by the Prime Minister last April, a lot of rumours have surrounded the Government’s review of the Muslim Brotherhood. Some people have even argued that the delay in the release of its findings was due to a failure to uncover any link to terrorism – a fact that would have thwarted David Cameron’s intention to ban the group.
These politically motivated speculations wildly misrepresent the review’s aims and findings. It was never supposed to be a thinly-veiled attempt simply to outlaw the Brotherhood. The review was in fact a genuine effort to better understand the group and redesign Whitehall’s strategy towards it as the world’s most significant Islamist movement.
In order to do so, the review was divided into two strands. The first analysed the nature of the Brotherhood’s activities worldwide. The group has a presence in some 90 countries and in each has taken slightly different forms. It advocates a bottom-up, gradual Islamisation of society. Yet this process of social engineering, based on education, political activism and the provision of social services, is at times accompanied by the use of violence.
Muslim Brotherhood-linked groups in each country work according to a common vision – but in complete operational independence, making the Brotherhood an informal global movement. It’s what makes designating the whole movement a terrorist organisation virtually impossible in the UK, as authorities knew from the very beginning. But the lack of a ban does not equal an exoneration or an endorsement —hardly the general tone of the review.