Tony Blair has been accused of an embarrassing hypocrisy after reports emerged that his high-profile multi-faith charity has links to an international Islamist group which he himself dismissed earlier this year.
According to one international watchdog organisation, the Tony Blair Faith Foundation has two senior advisors with close links to the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Brotherhood is a pan-Islamic organisation that takes different forms in different countries, yet Mr Blair himself slammed the group in general, comparing it to the Russian Bolshevik party and saying it was “the will of the people” that its democratically-elected Egyptian president was overthrown by the military last year.
Then, the former British prime minister accused the Brotherhood of being in “pursuit of values that contradict everything we stand for”, and “taking the country away from its basic values of hope and progress”.
The Tony Blair Faith Foundation says it exists to “help prevent religious prejudice, conflict and extremism”, and Mr Blair will be embarrassed by the link between its council members and a group he has been so critical of, the Sunday Telegraph reported.
According to the newspaper, Dr Ismail Khudr Al-Shatti, an adviser to the Kuwaiti government and a member of Mr Blair’s advisory council, is a leading member of the Islamic Constitutional Movement (ICM), the Kuwaiti branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Another adviser, the former Grand Mufti of Bosnia-Herzegovina Mustafa Ceric, was reportedly tied to the Brotherhood through his membership of the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR), headed by Youssef Qaradawi, considered the Brotherhood’s intellectual leader, and whose extremist views led to his ban from Britain in 2008.
The Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Watch (GMBDW), a self-appointed watchdog which claims to have monitored the development of the Brotherhood over the past 13 years, said Mr Blair’s ties to the Brotherhood in light of his own comments cast a shadow over his judgment and work.
Steven Merley, who runs GMBDW, said: “Many groups don’t call themselves Muslim Brotherhood but they are linked to what I call the 'Global Muslim Brotherhood’.
“These individuals have fooled a lot of politicians, like Blair, who should know better. The very presence of people like Shatti and Ceric in the same room as him is a judgment on Blair.”
A spokesperson for the Tony Blair Faith Foundation said it had no knowledge of any link between its advisers and the Brotherhood, and said: “We are grateful for the contribution to our work of Dr Ismail Khudr Al-Shatti and Dr Mustafa Ceric.
“They are great supporters of both the foundation and interfaith dialogue, with long records of commitment to peaceful coexistence.”
The Brotherhood is currently the subject of a controversial British Government review, called for personally by David Cameron, during which its practices and influence in the UK will be investigated by MI5, MI6 and some of the country’s most senior diplomats.
The organisation denies any links to extremism, and the Prime Minister’s probe has been slammed in the Lords as a Saudi-influenced attempted to discredit a lawful international movement.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies