The military government in Egypt has received the enthusiastic backing of Tony Blair. The UK government, while using more cautious language, has continued to license arms sales to this regime, which imprisons its opponents and attacks peaceful demonstrators.
If we needed another reminder of the reality of this regime, one of its press officers has now tweeted – with approval – a link to the website of Britain First, a violent, racist group that split from the British National Party (BNP).
In January, Britain First held a rally outside the London offices of a group linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. Shortly afterwards, Sohair Younis, Press Counsellor to the Egyptian Embassy in London, tweeted (in capitals): “Demonstration: Britain First holds successful demonstration at London HQ of terrorist Muslim Brotherhood”. This was followed by a link to a story about the protest on Britain First’s own website.
Younis is clearly implying that she supports the demonstration. If she had made a statement about the event with no comment or link, she might get away with claiming that she was merely noting that it had happened. The link to the group’s own account of it, along with her willingness to use their own description of it (“successful”) make clear that this is not a neutral tweet.
I admit I would not have noticed Younis’ tweet were it not for a good friend of mine who campaigns against Egypt’s military regime. She uses Facebook under the name Sarah Antideepstate. Many thanks to Sarah for drawing this tweet to my attention.
You may well not have heard of Britain First. The group’s website is so full of half-truths, fantasy and lies that it’s difficult to know how much of what it says about itself is true.
It was founded by former BNP members who argued with BNP leader Nick Griffin. This appears to have been in part due to Griffin’s decision to allow non-whites to join the party. However, Britain First seem to emphasise religion at least as much as race.
Its members include Paul Golding, a former BNP councillor in Kent, and Jim Dowson, a former BNP treasurer and Christian fundamentalist minister with links to extreme loyalist activities in Northern Ireland.
The group say they want to preserve “British and Christian morality”. They describes themselves as a “patriotic political party and street defence organisation”. They clearly hate Muslims (who they lump together as terrorists and sexists). Their website declares that they are “overtly proud” of putting “our own people before foreigners” (how this fits with “Christian morality” is not explained). The website includes several attacks on homosexuality and applause for Vladimir Putin, the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church and countries that have passed laws against LGBT rights.
Despite all their hate-filled, racist, homophobic rhetoric, they say they want to “restore Christianity as the bedrock and foundation of our national life”.
It may be argued that Sohair Younis is not supporting everything Britain First stands for. However, if she does not agree with the group’s other views, she at least regards them as tolerable enough to overlook them for the sake of unity against the Muslim Brotherhood.
I’m no supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, although it is absurd to suggest that all its members are terrorists.
The current Egyptian government is a terrorist regime. So why am I bothering to mention this tweet? You might point out that the regime’s violence against its critics in Egypt, its murder of opponents and its fixing of a referendum are far worse than a tweet about a small group of right-wing extremists in London. You would be right.
However, what’s significant about this tweet is that it’s a comment on British politics. It’s a reminder that when Blair and Cameron get friendly with this regime, their friends’ friends in the UK include racists, Islamophobes, homophobes and fundamentalists who don’t think that the BNP is extreme enough.