British Prime Minister David Cameron held a two-hour meeting with Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Gehad el-Hadad on May 17, 2013, and offered his support for the group in Egypt.
According to the Middle East Eye, the meeting took place during President Mohammed Morsi’s brief reign, and was the first of a series of official visits between Downing Street officials and Brotherhood members, some of whom — including el-Hadad — are presently awaiting custody in Egypt.
During the prime minister’s meeting with el-Hadad, the two discussed Egypt’s free market potential, with Cameron offering Britain’s support.
Downing Street confirmed the report in a statement on Wednesday, and staunchly defended the meeting.
“It’s important to remember that the Brotherhood were in power in Egypt at the time and, like Governments across the region and world, we were engaging with them in order to understand them better and to try to positively influence their actions in office,” it said. “This is an organization that has rapidly risen in prominence in recent years and our understanding of its philosophy, values and impact needs to keep pace with this.”
The report comes weeks after Cameron ordered an investigation into the Muslim Brotherhood’s terror ties over concerns that the group was planning radical activities in Britain. A week later, on April 6, leaders of the Islamist group warned that banning the organization would have dire repercussions for the UK.
The leader of the Brotherhood in the United Kingdom, Ibrahim Mounir, said a ban on the Islamist organization would alienate moderate Muslims, open the door for radicalization and incite Muslims against the United Kingdom, The Sunday Times reported.
A ban would “make a lot of people in Muslim communities think that Muslim Brotherhood values . . . didn’t work and now they are designated a terrorist group, which would make the doors open for all options,” including violence, Mounir warned in his first statement since Cameron announced the probe.
The group has already been declared a terrorist organization in Egypt, Russia, Syria, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Yifa Yaakov contributed to this report.