Corbyn was ‘standing up for democracy’ by giving Islamists’ salute, Labour says

Jeremy Corbyn is facing new criticism (Jane Barlow/PA) Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Jeremy Corbyn faces further criticism after a picture emerged of him apparently making a salute linked to an Islamist organisation found to have possible connections to extremism.

The photograph, published in the Daily Telegraph, shows the Labour leader making the four-fingered Rabbi’ah sign, which is used by the Muslim Brotherhood as a symbol of support for the overthrow of Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi in a military coup d’etat in 2013.

It comes as Mr Corbyn continues to face questions over his visit to a controversial event at a Palestinian Martyrs Cemetery in 2014.

A spokesman for the Labour leader said he had been “standing up for democracy” when he used the Rabbi’ah symbol, with the photo reported to have been taken during a visit to Finsbury Park mosque in 2016.

A statement from Labour reads: "This is a well known gesture of solidarity with the victims of the 2013 Rabaa massacre, in which 1,000+ people were killed and thousands more injured by security forces after a military coup in Egypt."

But counter-extremist activist Maajid Nawaz said the Muslim Brotherhood was “to Muslims what the BNP are to the English: bigoted, identitarian and dangerous”.

He told the Telegraph: “It should be as taboo for a left-wing politician to be associated with that group, as it is with the BNP.”

In 2015, a review of the Muslim Brotherhood found that parts of the group had a “highly ambiguous relationship with violent extremism”.

Then-prime minister David Cameron said aspects of the group’s ideology “run counter to British values of democracy”.

A spokesman for Mr Corbyn told the Telegraph: “The four fingered gesture is a well-known symbol of solidarity with the victims of the 2013 Rabaa massacre in Cairo.”

The latest backlash against the Labour leader comes after he said he would not apologise for attending the event at the Palestinian cemetery because he was trying to “promote peace in the Middle East”.

The Labour leader had been widely criticised after he said he was present when wreaths were laid at the Tunis site in 2014 to the victims of an attack in Paris in 1992 but did not think he was “actually involved in it”.

Mr Corbyn’s comments on Monday prompted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to accuse him of honouring one of the founders of the Black September terror group which carried out the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre, who died in the incident in the French capital.

The Jewish Labour MP Luciana Berger said being “present” at the event was “the same as actually being involved” while Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he lacked “moral authority” when it came to condemning terrorist atrocities.

But Mr Corbyn insisted the wreath he laid at the cemetery in Tunis had been to commemorate all those killed during an Israeli air strike on the Palestinian Liberation Organisation’s offices in the city in 1985.

“I, along with other colleagues… laid a wreath in memory of those who died in the hope that we have a peace process and peace in the future so those raids are never repeated,” he said.

“I’m not apologising for being there at all. I went to a conference to try and promote peace in the Middle East.”

The row originally erupted after the Daily Mail published pictures of Mr Corbyn holding a wreath at the cemetery which it said were taken in front of a plaque honouring the founder of Black September.

During a visit to Walsall on Monday, Mr Corbyn suggested that a wreath had been laid to “those that were killed in Paris in 1992” – an apparent reference to assassinated PLO intelligence chief Atef Bseiso, who was accused by the Israelis of being involved in the Munich outrage in which 11 Israeli athletes were killed.

However, the Labour press office said on Tuesday that those who carried out the Munich attack were not buried in the cemetery in Tunis and there had been no ceremony for them.

Meanwhile, the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism (CAA) said it had complained to the Parliamentary watchdog over reports that Mr Corbyn’s trip to Tunisia was not declared in Parliament’s Register of Interests.

Stephen Silverman, director of investigations and enforcement at the CAA, said: “The public needs to know who paid for Jeremy Corbyn’s trip. If he paid for such a trip himself, then that would be extremely disturbing, but if some other entity paid for the trip, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards must tell the public who is pulling his strings.”