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Egypt Grand Mufti cancels visit to Britain for fear of prosecution

December 5, 2014 at 4:03 pm

The Grand Mufti of Egypt, Sheikh Shawki Allam, has cancelled a planned visit to Britain following a UK High Court order allowing the investigation of members of the Egyptian cabinet or armed forces for international crimes even while they are still in office.

Allam was due to fly to Britain on Friday to give a lecture at a conference on Muslim youth and Islamic extremism but cancelled the trip for fear of being prosecuted, Arabi.21 news site quoted informed sources as saying. He was scheduled to be the guest of honour at a seminar on religious extremism organised by the British right-wing Independence Party. The Times of England quoted the Independence party’s director of communications, Amjad Bashir, as saying that the occasion is an attempt to remind young Muslims in Britain of “the teachings of their religion and to develop strategies to counter extremism and religious fanaticism”.

The Egyptian Revolutionary Council, which includes Egyptian opposition leaders abroad, wrote to Lord George Leonard Carey, the former Bishop of the Anglican Church who is scheduled to participate in the conference, describing Allam’s position in support of Egyptian authorities and their killing of civilians as reminiscent of “the Nazis position”. Carey, who served as bishop in the period between 1991 and 2002, is known for his critical views of Islam.

In the letter, the Revolutionary Council strongly condemned the Mufti’s visit to Britain, and called for him to be banned from entry to the country and from speaking at public events.

The letter was also signed by several British Muslim organisations, including the Islamic Forum in Europe, Islam Expo, the Coalition Against Islamophobia, Finsbury Park mosque, the Islamic Association of Britain, Islamic House of Care and Muslim Students House.

An informed source told Arabi.21 that, “the organisations signing the statement prepared a complaint demanding the Mufti to be arrested upon his arrival on British territory”, pointing out they also planned to protest Allam’s visit in front of the British Parliament.

The source, who preferred to remain anonymous, said, “during the past two weeks we have coordinated with the Islamic organisations to prevent the Mufti from entering Britain and have contacted the Stop the War organisation regarding this matter”.

The Times said the Islamic organisations in Britain expressed their “bewilderment” at the Mufti’s decision to participate in a seminar with the head of a right-wing party who is known for his extremist views, and also sent a letter to Lord Carey urge him to reconsider his decision.

The letter said the Mufti, “does not represent Islam or Islamic values”, especially after his failure to speak out and denounce the Rabaa massacre in which 817 protesters were killed in August 2013. In addition, the letter also referenced the regime’s imprisonment of opposition members and the torture of dissidents and rape and sexual abuse of children, none of which were condemned by the Mufti Sheikh Shawki Allam despite him being the official representative of Al-Azhar, Egypt’s centre of Islamic learning.

The London-based ITN Solicitors, who represent the Muslim Brotherhood, announced on Thursday that the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom has rules to allow the investigation of members of the Egyptian cabinet or armed forces for international crimes upon their arrival on British territories. The firm said in a statement that the decision follows a lawsuit filed by the Freedom and Justice Party, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood.

On 28 February 2014, the Freedom and Justice party prepared a note with the names of Egyptian officials, including ministers and leaders of the army and security services, accusing them of committing crimes against humanity, including torture and complicity in the killing of hundreds of unarmed demonstrators in Rabaa Al-Adawiyya square in eastern Cairo.