The Sunday Telegraph has a major piece today on a possible government crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood in the UK.
Such a move was probably inevitable once it became clear one of the MB's leaders, Yusuf al-Qaradwi, was promoting the concept of a Sunni-Shia sectarian war, and encouraging any able bodied Sunni to go to Syria to take part in that conflict. We are today seeing some of the consequences of that advocacy - in the continuing number of Britons travelling to fight in Syria, the threat posed to our own citizens by those in jihadist organisations and the dangers we face from those returning from the front line in Iraq and Syria. This is not simply about terrorism - what price women's rights, community relations or concepts of democracy in a community influenced by ISIS?
Curiously Robert Mendick and Robert Verkaik's newspaper article holds back from examing the scale of the British establishment's blunders with regards to the MB. These encompass politicians, the police and academia. Mayor of London Ken Livingstone brought Yusuf al-Qaradawi to London as a man we could do business with, a Muslim theologian with the respect and ear of British Muslims. I wonder if Ken, listening to al-Qaradawi's call for violence against Shia Muslims, has now had time to reflect on the wisdom of that approach?
Then there is Bob Lambert QPM, who as head of the Metropolitian Police's Muslim Contact Unit, faciltated not only Al-Qaradwi's London sojourns, but regarded him as a bulwark against the influence of Al Qaeda. According to Lambert's memoirs, this support extended to the Commander of the Met's Special Branch. To paraphrase Brendan Behan, there is no situation so bad, the intervention of a police officer can't make it worse.
Earlier this year, I raised the question of the Muslim Brotherhood's influence in British academia. The organisation Spinwatch, with its illustrious advisory board and staffed by some prominent researchers on the British left in Prof David Miller of Bath University, Tom Griffin, Hilary Aked and also Tom Mills of the New Left Project, has been funded by the Muslim Brotherhood's Cordoba Foundation, to the tune of £10,000.
Since then, Spinwatch output has at times reflected issues of concern to the MB - a 2011 report concerning the "Cold War on Britain's Muslims" and a 2013 report exposing a pro-Israeli lobbying group, BICOM. At the 2011 Critical Terrorism Studies conference in Glasgow, Prof Miller reacted angrily to a conference panel on 'Religious Terrorism.' It was perhaps no coincidence that the papers presented in that part of the conference were not sent for peer review, and consequently did not appear in the journal Critical Studies on Terrorism, where several Spinwatch writers may be found.
According to the Sunday Telegraph, Dr Lorenzo Vidino has been advising the Cabinet Office on its review of MB activities in the UK. It may also be time that a few academics began to look critically (in the true sense of the word) at what impact the Muslim Brotherhood may be having on parts of British academia.