Anti-Extremism Groups, Lawmakers in Europe Want Apple to Ban ‘Fatwa’ App

By Fayçal Benhassain | July 9, 2019 | 11:18 PM EDT

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Paris (CNSNews.com) – A French senator and a British lawmaker have joined with other campaigners to call for a ban on a mobile application linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and its perceived spiritual leader, the controversial Egyptian cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

At a recent press conference at the Senate in Paris, Senator Nathalie Goulet, who previously led a commission investigating militant networks in Europe, and British member of parliament Ian Parsley Jr. called on Apple to ban the Euro Fatwa app.

Representatives of three British associations which counter extremism said the app was dangerous, conveys hate, and has a negative impact on young Muslims in their country.

After complaints, Google reportedly pulled it from its Google Play Store around mid-May. (The Saudi daily Arab News quoted a Google spokesman at the time as saying, “While we can't comment on individual apps, we'll take swift actions against any app that break our policies once we've been aware of them, including those that contain hate speech.”)

The Euro Fatwa app is available on the Apple app store in English, Arabic, Spanish and Portuguese, and its stated aim is “to enable the European Muslims to adhere to the regulations and manners of Islam and to fulfil their duties as Muslim citizens.”

Launched in April for iPhone and Android, it contains all fatwas issued since 1997 by the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR), a Muslim Brotherhood-linked group founded in London that year by Qaradawi and others.

Paisley argued that terror online has no borders and spreads easily thanks to new technologies.

“We are happy that Google had reacted quickly as soon as we let it know which kind of application Euro Fatwa is, and banned it from its Google [Play] Store,” he said.

But Paisley voiced disappointment that Apple had not taken the step.

He said that he has been calling on the British government to take action against the app.

“An application like this is sophisticated, complicated and expensive to put in place,” he said. “We want the government to find out how it’s financed and to block all its money.”

A fatwa is a formal ruling or interpretation on a point of Islamic law given by a qualified legal scholar or a recognized authority, often called a mufti. Fatwas are usually issued in response to questions from individuals or Islamic courts.

Ghanem Nuseibeh, chairman of London-based nonprofit organization Muslims Against Anti-Semitism, said the app includes extremist and anti-Semitic views.

“It aims not only to incite anti-Semitism, but also to isolate Muslim communities from mainstream European life,” he said, adding that the groups are looking into taking legal action.

“European values are now threatened by radical speeches,” said Fiyaz Mughal, founder and director of Faith Matters, a British organization that works on countering extremism and community integration. “Their impacts are huge and could lead, for instance to the killing of civilians and to problems between communities and racial hate.”

Mughal said the app conveys hate and the content is often anti-Semitic and hostile to Muslim integration into European and British society.

He also called on European governments to restrict the Muslim Brotherhood, noting that Qaradawi has been banned from Britain, the United States, and several other countries.

Qaradawi is living in Qatar under the protection of the ruling family of the small, oil-rich Arab state which is supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Haras Rafiq of the London-based counter-extremism organization Quilliam said prohibiting the Muslim Brotherhood was not enough since the organization has “set up intricate networks of organizations, including the one that launched the app. They run hundreds of such organizations in Europe.”

Goulet said deradicalization efforts carried out by the French government are not working. She said it makes more sense to prevent radicalization, than to fight it later.

The French senator pointed out that the lower legislature in her country voted just days ago for a law requiring Internet platforms and search engines to remove hateful content within 24 hours, or risk large fines.

It was absurd not to view Euro Fatwa as a terrorist application with hateful content, she said.

The ECFR has not commented publicly on the calls to ban the app.

Apple’s press room did not respond to queries. The UAE daily The National earlier quoted an Apple spokesman as saying, “We are reviewing Euro Fatwa again for possible violations of our guidelines and, if we find content that violates our guidelines and is harmful to users, we will notify the developer and may remove it from the store.”

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