Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 6 December 2020

Why is a Muslim Brotherhood-linked app still on Apple and Google Play?

Yusuf Al Qaradawi is a leading Muslim Brotherhood figurehead based in Qatar. Reuters
Yusuf Al Qaradawi is a leading Muslim Brotherhood figurehead based in Qatar. Reuters

A mobile phone application associated with the Muslim Brotherhood has yet to be removed from the Apple Store and Google Play, 18 months after its launch. To the contrary, the app espousing extremist view points has exploited the rising use of online tools to spread hate in Muslim households across Europe.

Euro Fatwa has consistently ranked among the top 100 most downloaded apps in many European countries. In Finland, it is ranked 34th, and 45th in Ireland.

The application was created by the European Council for Fatwa and Research, a private foundation in Dublin headed by Yusuf Al Qaradawi, the Doha-based spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. Al Qaradawi has been banned from Britain, France and the US for his extremist views, which include condoning suicide bombings. He has also been sentenced to life in prison in his native Egypt. The Brotherhood is officially designated a terrorist group in a number of Arab countries including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt.

At the time of its launch, the Euro Fatwa app contained an introduction by Al Qaradawi, in which he made anti-Semitic remarks, prompting Google to take it down. It has since been restored, after the introduction was taken out.

The core ideology of Euro Fatwa, however, has not changed. The application is meant to help users “fulfill their duties as Muslim citizens while taking care of the legal, customary and cultural specificities of European societies”, according to its description on Google Play. In reality, it is a tool of extremism that incites users to detach from their wider European societies.

In one statement, the app said European laws do not have to be obeyed if they contradict Islam. It has also instructed followers in the British Army to disobey orders and refrain from swearing an oath of allegiance to the Queen. Other digital tools, such as Zoom and Telegram, are being used by extremists to spread their ideology.

No one should be allowed to spread hate and sow division — especially not under the guise of religion. Not only do the Muslim Brotherhood and other extremists mislead Muslims who seek religious guidance, they also taint the image of Islam by associating it with violence and racism.

Another area of concern is that these organisations often serve foreign agendas. Al Qadrawi, for instance, has been living in Qatar for decades. He routinely spreads hateful rhetoric from his Doha home, broadening Qatar’s reach in Europe and beyond.

No one should be allowed to spread hate and sow division — especially not under the guise of religion

Doha has also financed a wide array of dubious charities across Europe, often linked to or inspired by the brotherhood. These findings are presented in extraordinary detail in the book Qatar Papers: How Doha Finances the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe. The authors, two French journalists, found that Doha funnelled more than $80 million to various projects in seven European countries to support the brotherhood’s ideology.

The Muslim Brotherhood has also taken root in Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey, a country that was once considered a pluralistic haven in the Middle East.

The concerns around this app are part of a wider problem of too many tech companies refusing to take action against extremist groups abusing their platforms. Google and Apple have a duty to take down Euro Fatwa, and European leaders must ensure that companies who fail to curb the spread of extremism are held to account.

Updated: October 21, 2020 05:43 PM

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