Although the participants are diverse and the nature of the events varied, it is impossible to miss the dominant presence of the falangist Muslim Brotherhood and of other allied Islamist groupings. That much is apparent from the event’s home page, where the speakers who are pictured and presented prominently include a range of high profile Muslim Brotherhood activists, including Jamal Badawi, Tariq Ramadan, Anas Altikriti and of course, Dr Azzam “Kaboom” Tamimi. Also featured is Sheikh Qazi Hussain Ahmed, the President of Jamaat-e-Islami and Merve Kavakci, a controversial Turkish Islamist.
FOSIS – the Muslim Brotherhood’s British youth section – is being promoted particularly heavily, and will be conducting three sessions during the weekend.
It would be a mistake to think that only Jamaat or Muslim Brotherhood events are featured during the weekend. Indeed, if you look at the programme itself, you will see that it includes comedy shows, a session on North African Drumming, and some whirling dervishes. Guardian journalists make a good showing: with Bunting, Milne and (for the sake of balance) Freedland appearing on various panels.
Not all the political speakers are Islamists. Sadiq Khan MP and Lord Nazir Ahmed appear together on one panel, to wave the red rose for Labour. Sebastian Coe and Tessa Jowell will be popping in, for a half hour “Opening Ceremony” with Ken Livingstone: whose office is a major sponsor of the event. Other non-Muslim Brotherhood political speakers include the SWP-er John Rose, the Communist Party of Britain hack, Andrew Murray. Somewhere in between the far left and the far green are the bevvy of RESPECT-ers, including Salma “Yemen” Yaqoob, Lindsey “Shibboleth” German, and Yvonne “Brother Zarqawi” Ridley.
There is also a discussion on terrorism between the would-be terrorist Azzam Tamimi and the former spook, Alastair Crooke: who is a strong proponent of the institutionalisation of a working relationship between the British Government and the Muslim Brotherhood. The pragmatic rationale which underpins this thinking – which is particularly favoured in parts of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office – is that Jamaat will one day take Pakistan, and that the Muslim Brotherhood will come to power, not only in Palestine, but also eventually in Egypt and in other parts of the Arab world: where they represent the only organised alternative to the corrupt and sclerotic arabist and nationalist dictatorships. That being so, British national interests require that we maintain cordial relations with the rulers-in-waiting.
My guess is that the spill over effect of the policy of cultivating political Islamists abroad will be the facilitation and encouragement of Islamist politics at home.
Expect more IslamExpos in the future, and keep an eye open for mainstream political participation in these events.