Google Fatwas Muslim Brotherhood-backed Mobile App
‘Euro Fatwa’ application contains anti-Semitic statements and allows for British Muslim soldiers to disobey orders
Google has banned a free mobile application from its online store that featured an introduction with anti-Semitic rhetoric from Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the controversial spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Established in Egypt in 1928 as a grassroots social and political movement, the transnational Sunni Islamist Brotherhood has far-reaching influence across the Arab world as well as among many Muslim groups in the West.
“Inappropriate content including hate speech is strictly prohibited on Google Play and if an app violates our rules, we take swift action,” a Google spokesperson told The Media Line in reference to the decision.
Launched last month ahead of Ramadan by the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR), the Euro Fatwa app’s stated goal is to guide “European Muslims to adhere to the regulations and manners of Islam.”
The ECFR is a Dublin-based private foundation founded in 1997 that comprises numerous Islamic clerics and scholars. Its chairman is the Egyptian-born Qaradawi, who currently resides in Qatar. He has a popular show on the Al Jazeera Arabic news channel that draws tens of millions of viewers worldwide.
While no longer available on Google Play, Euro Fatwa remains free to download on Apple’s App Store. Apple representatives told Arab media outlet The National that the company is currently reviewing the app.
In an introduction to the Euro Fatwa app – a section that appears to have been removed from the latest version accessible on the Apple App Store, Qaradawi wrote that “Muslims became a disgrace to Islam and have acted similarly to the Jews who decreed it was correct to steal from others.”
Ghanem Nuseibeh, chair of the non-profit Muslims Against Anti-Semitism organization and founder of Cornerstone Global Associates, was among those who persuaded Google to implement the ban.
“When I saw the [Euro Fatwa] app, I was absolutely furious about its content,” Nuseibeh told The Media Line. “It badly distorts Islam and as Muslims, harms our communities. It radicalizes Muslim youth and undermines the anti-extremism work we did.… We as Muslims will no longer tolerate extremism ideology,” he stressed.
Nuseibeh revealed that he held meetings on the issue with British parliamentarians and officials from Ireland and France and thereafter felt a personal duty to speak out.
“[The Muslim Brotherhood] has been responsible for propagating more anti-Semitism across Muslim communities around the world than any other group, and its offshoots have murdered Jews in the most despicable acts of anti-Semitism,” Nuseibeh said. “Without the Muslim Brotherhood, we would have significantly less anti-Semitism in the Muslim world, including Muslim communities in Europe. Attacking Jews is one of the ways the [group] infiltrates Muslim communities in Europe and spreads its message of hate. This app was a clear example,” he added.
In the past, Qaradawi referred to the Holocaust as a form of “divine punishment” imposed on the Jews and advocated for suicide bombings against Israelis, leading to him being barred from entering France and the United Kingdom.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have all designated the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group. Soon after then-Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi – who belonged to the Brotherhood – was deposed in a military coup in 2013, Cairo’s current leader Abdel Fattah el-Sisi also blacklisted the organization.
Aside from application’s introduction, other written passages contained hateful rhetoric, according to Nuseibeh. For instance, in a section on joining the British army, the app states that if a Muslim soldier “comes across a situation where he thinks that it involves an act of disobedience to Allah, then there should be no obedience to anyone if it constitutes disobedience to Allah.”
Another religious decree in the app notes that “European norms and traditions are devoid of value when they contradict clear Islamic dictates, such as calling for full equality between man and woman in inheritance law.”
Despite repeatedly rejecting any links between the concept of jihad and terrorism, the app implicitly argues that “holy war” is permissible in relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “The worst terrorism is occupation in all its forms,” the text reads. “Therefore, the legal resistance of occupation is not within the framework of terrorism, as the international laws and conventions state.”
In a statement to The Media Line, the World Jewish Congress (WJC) said that it was “pleased” with Google’s move.
“The Muslim Brotherhood [is] an organization widely seen as promoting anti-Jewish hate and terror activities,” WJC CEO and Executive Vice President Robert Singer asserted. “Internet companies have the responsibility to moderate the activities and content being uploaded to their sites, not to put a cap on free speech, [but] to ensure that the world is a safer place free from hate.
“The lack of a clear definition of anti-Semitism helps haters find ways to use social networks for hateful purposes,” he continued. “The next step for tech giants will be adopting definitions of anti-Semitism, including the [official] one adopted in 2016 by the 31 members of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.”
The app’s ban comes against the backdrop of reports that the Trump Administration is considering designating the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group and imposing sanctions on those who conduct business with it.
The Media Line reached out to the ECFR for comment but received no response.