Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing: The Muslim Brotherhood and Qatar in Europe

The Muslim Brotherhood movement is not only the oldest but also the largest and potentially the most dangerous Islamist movement in the world. While states like Turkey and Qatar have long supported the Brotherhood, in recent years, and especially since the overthrow of the Brotherhood-led government of Mohamed Morsi in Egypt in 2013, they have come to align their respective foreign policies much more closely with the goals of the Brotherhood. Qatar and Turkey have not just deepened their relationships with the Brotherhood, and with each other, their foreign policies are also increasingly at odds with the interests of their previous partners in the West and in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) itself. There are even question marks hanging over their burgeoning relationships with Iran and Russia, raising serious concerns over the future of the balance of power and stability in the region.

Last but not least, and this will be the focus of this report, the Muslim Brotherhood is also well established throughout Europe, and has in many ways come to dominate all of the most important umbrella organisations representing the diverse Muslim communities on the Continent, including those closest to government. So the main questions this report will seek to answer is what goals the Brotherhood is pursuing in Europe, how well established and influential the organisation really is among Muslim communities across the Continent, and what influence, if any, the Brotherhood and its ally and sponsor Qatar have on the foreign policies of select European states and on the EU as such.

To answer these questions, this report will thus first briefly revisit the history and evolution of the Muslim Brotherhood from its origins in Egypt to the powerful, yet clandestine, international movement it has since become; elucidate the overall ideology and aims of the Brotherhood, and how they relate to Europe; as well as analyse its relationship with Turkey and Qatar. This will be followed by an assessment of the Muslim Brotherhood’s presence, modus operandi and influence within Muslim communities in Europe, focussing in particular on its activities in Germany, the United Kingdom and on the level of the European Union. In the same context, Germany’s, the UK’s and the EU’s approaches and priorities with regard to the MENA region will be examined in order to assess to what extent the Brotherhood and Qatar have historically figured in these, and thus to be able to ascertain to what extent their efforts in Europe might have influenced any more recent changes in these actors’ foreign policies.

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About the GPI

The Global Policy Institute is a research institute on international affairs. It is based in the City of London, and draws on both a rich pool of international thinkers, academics as well as policy and business professionals. The Institute gives non-partisan guidance to policymakers and decision takers in business, government, and NGOs.

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