Muslim Brotherhood’s danger dawns on France

Muslim Brotherhood’s danger dawns on France
French Senator Nathalie Goulet is one of several French lawmakers who have recommended that there should be a preaching ban on clerics associated with the Muslim Brotherhood. (Supplied)
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Updated 11 February 2021

Muslim Brotherhood’s danger dawns on France

Muslim Brotherhood’s danger dawns on France
  • A report proposes measures to curtail the the group’s influence on extremists

LONDON: Lawmakers in France last week recommended that there should be a preaching ban on clerics affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood, as one of 44 propositions used in order to counter extremist Islamist radicalization in the European country.

 “I believe that the most important thing is to control those who convey a hate speech, from outside or within the country, such as separatists, racists, anti-Semites. This speech is contrary to the values of the French Republic,” French Senator Nathalie Goulet told Arab News.

 “The fight against Islamization accepts no tolerance in fighting against the enemies of the Republic and particularly the Muslim Brotherhood movement,” she added. 

The report’s 44 propositions relate to economic, education, social and cultural issues, according to French daily Le Figaro. It uncovers a truth long hidden in France and one that has been warned against by several countries in the Arab world.

“It is the nature of Islam to dominate, not to be dominated, to impose its law on all nations, and to extend its power to the entire planet.”  

Those words were among the many ominous points outlined on a document titled “The Project” that was discovered by Swiss authorities as they raided prominent Muslim Brotherhood member and terror financier Youssef Nada’s apartment in November 2001. 

While they may have been brushed off among everyday Europeans as those of a radical madman, carrying no significant weight, they ring true for many who believe in the Muslim Brotherhood’s extremist ideology.

Key Dates

  • 1

    The Muslim Brotherhood is founded by Hassan Al-Banna in Ismailia, Egypt.

    Timeline Image 1928

  • 2

    Muslim Brotherhood member Abdel Meguid Ahmed Hassan assassinates Egypt’s Prime Minister Mahmud Al-Nokrashy.

  • 3

    Members of the Muslim Brotherhood attempt to assassinate Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, who then raids the group and arrests several of its members, including the group’s ideologue Sayyid Qutb.

    Timeline Image 1954

  • 4

    Egypt executes Sayyid Qutb, whose extremist ideology inspired the birth of terrorist organization Al-Qaeda.

  • 5

    The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria launches an attack during the Islamic uprising, killing 83 cadets at the Aleppo Artillery School.

    Timeline Image June 1979

  • 6

    The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria carries out a spate of car-bomb attacks against military and government officials in Damascus, causing the deaths of hundreds of people.

    Timeline Image November 1981

  • 7

    The Muslim Brotherhood sets up Hamas as one of its military wings in Palestine.

  • 8

    The US State Department designates Hamas as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

  • 9

    The US Treasury Department designates the Muslim Brotherhood-founded Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development and Al-Taqwa Bank as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” group after supplying Hamas and Al-Qaeda with logistical and financial support.

  • 10

    The Muslim Brotherhood’s Tunisian political party, Ennahdha, led by Rachid Al-Ghannouchi, comes first in assembly elections with more than 37 percent of the vote.

  • 11

    Swiss banks UBS and Credit Suisse cancel Muslim Brotherhood-linked, UK-based NGO Islamic Relief’s accounts due to fears they are being used to finance terrorism.

  • 12

    The Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi wins the Egyptian presidential elections to take office as the country’s president after the ousting of Hosni Mubarak.

  • 13

    Members of the Muslim Brotherhood are accused of looting and setting fire to over 42 Egyptian churches and police stations.

    Timeline Image August 2013

  • 14

    Morsi is ousted from his position as president following nationwide protests and is arrested by the military, which later raids the Muslim Brotherhood’s camps and arrests loyalists; the country officially designates the group a terrorist organization.

    Timeline Image 2013

  • 15

    Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie and 628 other members are sentenced to death for violence and killing policemen in Egypt.

  • 16

    Cairo’s Criminal Court charges 67 members of the Muslim Brotherhood with the assassination of Egyptian Public Prosecutor Hisham Barakat.

    Timeline Image June 29, 2015

  • 17

    UK Prime Minister’s Office says membership of the Muslim Brotherhood is “a possible indicator of extremism.”

  • 18

    UK’s HSBC cancels Islamic Relief’s accounts amid concerns that its monetary aid is financing terrorism.

  • 19

    Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt sever ties with Qatar following its continued support for and harboring of extremists and terrorists, including members of the Muslim Brotherhood and its spiritual guide Yusuf Al-Qaradawi.

  • 20

    A Cairo court sentences 28 people to death over Hisham Barakat’s killing, and hands 15 others 25-year jail sentences.

    Timeline Image July 22, 2017

  • 21

    France expels the Muslim Brotherhood founder’s grandson Hani Ramadan for his anti-Semitic and extremist rhetoric which “posed a serious threat to public order,” according to the interior ministry.

  • 22

    The French government freezes Hani Ramadan’s assets as part of the fight against the financing of terrorism.

  • 23

    The Muslim Brotherhood is sued internationally by the head of the Egyptian Union of Human Rights Organizations, Naguib Ghobrael, and other international unions for setting fire to over 42 churches in 2013.

  • 24

    German officials accuse Islamic Relief of “significant personal ties” to the Muslim Brotherhood and start a review of official funding of Brotherhood-related groups.

 

While the group’s views and ties to terrorism are well-known in the Arab region, the Brotherhood took advantage of its unknown and low-lying presence in Europe. Hundreds of exiled members sought safe haven there during the 1950s and 1960s following Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s nation-wide purge of the group’s loyalists after their failed attempts to assassinate him.

“An extremely adaptive movement, the Brotherhood has understood that its goals for the Arab world — establishing Islamic regimes which they would lead — is not a realistic aspiration in Europe, at least for the time being,” Dr. Lorenzo Vidino, director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University, told Arab News.

The group’s slogan definitively sums up what its fundamental worldwide goal is: “Islam is the solution, the Qur’an is our constitution, Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.” 

This, as the group’s notorious spiritual guide Sayyid Qutb described, can only happen through the ultimate jihad — a religiously justified expedition to rid the world of the tyrannical, the ignorant and the falsely worshipped. 

According to the 9/11 commission report published in 2004: “No middle ground exists in what Qutb conceived as a struggle between God and Satan. All Muslims — as he defined them — therefore must take up arms in this fight. Any Muslim who rejects his ideas is just one more nonbeliever worthy of destruction.”

This extremist ideology went on to inspire terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda, with its current leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri being an ardent follower and student of Qutb. 

In order for it to achieve its ultimate takeover, Vidino said, the group has three main goals within Europe: To spread its political and religious world views to European Muslim communities, to be designated as official or de facto representatives of Muslim communities in each European country, and to influence European public opinion and policymaking on all issues in an Islamist-friendly direction.

“They seek to do so through an incessant dawa (religious call) which is facilitated by the fact that they can rely on ample resources (and, consequently, a network of mosques, educational activities, publications), more than any competing Islamic trend,” said Vidino, who is also author of the book “The New Muslim Brotherhood in the West.”

 He continued: “The Brotherhood aims at being entrusted by European governments with administering all aspects of Muslim life in each country. This position would also allow them to be the de facto official Muslim voice in public debates and in the media, overshadowing competing forces.”

And one needn’t go far in order to prove that this is their ulterior motive. Exiled Egyptian cleric Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideologue profiled by Arab News in its “Preachers of Hate” series, openly stated on a Qatar TV talk show in 2007: “Islam will conquer Europe without resorting to the sword or fighting.

“Europe is miserable with materialism, with the philosophy of promiscuity, and with the immoral considerations that rule the world — considerations of self-interest and self-indulgence,” he said, adding: “It is high time (Europe) woke up and found a way out from this, and it will not find a lifesaver or a lifeboat other than Islam.”

Founded by Egyptian schoolteacher Hassan Al-Banna in Ismailia in 1928 as a movement to oust British colonial rule and create an Islamic state dictated by Sharia Law, the Muslim Brotherhood has since shifted from attempting to achieve its goal through violence and terrorist attacks throughout Egypt and the Arab world to masking its intentions through democratic and lawful means.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt and Russia have slapped the group with terrorist designations, and while US President Donald Trump mulled doing the same, neither the US nor any of European countries have done so — although the EU and US have labeled its Palestinian military wing, Hamas, a terrorist group.

Europe, and most notably France and Germany, have harbored large Muslim communities throughout the years. While most members of these communities might have no ill intentions towards their host nations, dangerous and radical ideology bubbles under the surface, especially among younger people. 

“Violent radicalization arises out of the particular challenges faced by an increasingly Westernized generation of young Muslims in Europe, who attempt to carve out an identity for themselves,” wrote Anja Dalgaard-Nielsen, director of the Institute for Strategy at the Royal Danish Defence College, in a paper titled “Violent Radicalization in Europe: What We Know and What We Do Not Know.”

She added: “The overall conditions of modernity and life in Western democracies — individualization and value relativism — prompt a search for identity, meaning, and community for a number of individuals.”

The answers these young people look for, as Vidino pointed out, are found in the mosques and youth clubs the Muslim Brotherhood set up through the years since its members arrived in Europe.

“Since (the 1950s) and up to now, members of the Brotherhood have been able to obtain asylum and citizenship, set up mosques and institutions, disseminate their propaganda, collect funds, recruit new members, and even be seen as moderate partners of European establishments, their institutions often being seen as moderate interlocutors,” he said.

These institutions are many and wide-spread across the UK, France, Germany and other European countries. 

The Dublin-based European Council for Fatwa and Research is one of them. Founded in 1997 by Al-Qaradawi, the council has stirred great controversy since then. Its most recent scandal came after it developed the Euro Fatwa app that has been dubbed “a tool for radicalization” by German authorities. 

According to local media, the app’s introduction included statements from Al-Qaradawi saying: “Muslims became a disgrace to Islam and have acted similarly to the Jews who decreed it was correct to steal.”

“If we want to limit the influence of this tendency of Islam, incompatible with our republican rules, we must take more concrete measures.”

Nathalie Goulet

Another is the Federation of Islamic Organizations in France, founded by the Brotherhood in 1989, that acts as an umbrella organization to most Muslim organizations across Europe. Falling under it is the Islamic Community in Germany that was formerly headed by the Brotherhood founder’s son-in-law Said Ramadan. It is considered the central organization for Muslim Brotherhood followers in the country by the German Domestic Intelligence Agency.

“If we want to limit the influence of this tendency of Islam, incompatible with our republican rules, we must take more concrete measures,” Senator Goulet said, adding that “we must also be very vigilant towards foreign funding of French associations.”

This freedom to operate under the guise of promoting Islam within the confines of the law in Europe poses a challenge to many agencies and policy makers in the continent who are aware of the dangers the group’s soft power poses in the long term, especially within Muslim youth communities.

“Some countries, or at least some agencies and policymakers within some countries, do see the Brotherhood as problematic, and some actions have been taken against the group,” Vidino said. These measures include shutting down its entities, stripping members of visas and seizing its funds.  

“The security services of Germany, for example, have repeatedly stated that the threat posed by ‘legalistic Islamists’ (Islamist groups that operate within the boundaries of the law) is much greater in the long term than that of jihadism.”

“In this spirit, the report targets the Muslim brotherhood and its leader Sheikh Qaradawi,” Senator Goulet said. “I cannot say it enough: It is up to religions to adapt to the Republic and not the other way around.”


We need to get the travel industry moving again, UK PM Johnson says

We need to get the travel industry moving again, UK PM Johnson says
Updated 4 min 31 sec ago

We need to get the travel industry moving again, UK PM Johnson says

We need to get the travel industry moving again, UK PM Johnson says
  • "We need to get people, get the travel industry moving again," Johnson told reporters
  • Johnson's travel regulations have angered some of Britain's European allies, frustrated millions of sun-seeking Britons

LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday that he wanted to get the travel industry moving again with a simple user-friendly system to allow for trips abroad without importing new variants of the coronavirus.
“We need to get people, get the travel industry moving again,” Johnson told reporters. “We want an approach that is as simple as we can possibly make it.”
Britain has double vaccinated a higher proportion of its population against COVID-19 than most other countries, but the government has prevented travel to many destinations by imposing rules that the travel industry says are hobbling the economy.
Johnson’s travel regulations have angered some of Britain’s European allies, frustrated millions of sun-seeking Britons and brought warnings from airports, airlines and tour companies.
In a letter to Johnson that was leaked to media, finance minister Rishi Sunak called for an urgent easing of travel restrictions.
The Times newspaper reported that Britain planned to warn holidaymakers against visiting popular tourist destinations such as Spain because of concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.
Such a step could trigger an exodus of about a million British tourists already abroad, cause further damage to the travel sector and deal a new blow to southern Europe’s summer tourist season.
A spokesperson for Britain’s transport ministry declined to comment on The Times report, published on the day when rules were eased for double-vaccinated travelers from the United States and most of Europe.
Under rules to be reviewed on Thursday, double-vaccinated travelers can return without quarantining from countries rated “amber” on a “traffic-light” list assessing the COVID-19 risk.
Those returning from red-list countries — the most severe risk — must pay 1,750 pounds ($2,436) to spend 10 days in a hotel.
An amber watchlist was due to be signed off on Thursday but a split in the government could delay a decision, The Times said.
Citing the threat posed by the Beta coronavirus variant, England has maintained quarantine rules for double-vaccinated travelers from France, while scrapping the requirement for travelers from other medium-risk “amber” countries.
France has complained, saying the bulk of its Beta variant cases come from the island of La Reunion in the Indian Ocean.


Family of London terrorist claim his death was needless

The family of terrorist Sudesh Amman, who was shot dead by police after conducting a knifing rampage in London, are expected to question whether his life could have been saved. (AP/File Photo)
The family of terrorist Sudesh Amman, who was shot dead by police after conducting a knifing rampage in London, are expected to question whether his life could have been saved. (AP/File Photo)
Updated 22 min 31 sec ago

Family of London terrorist claim his death was needless

The family of terrorist Sudesh Amman, who was shot dead by police after conducting a knifing rampage in London, are expected to question whether his life could have been saved. (AP/File Photo)
  • Sudesh Amman shot dead after stabbing 2 people
  • Family say he could have been arrested before attack

LONDON: The family of a terrorist who was shot dead by police after conducting a knifing rampage in London are expected to question whether his life could have been saved by being arrested earlier.

It will be the first time relatives of an Islamist terrorist in Britain will ask in court if the killing of their relative was necessary.

The inquest into the death of Sudesh Amman, 20, who stabbed two random members of the public on Feb. 2, 2020, is due to open on Monday at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

Amman was being closely observed by undercover reconnaissance officers when he was seen purchasing items for a fake suicide vest, which he put together in his probation hostel.

The next day, while being followed by officers, he quickly grabbed a knife from a shop and stabbed two passers-by in south London.

Both of his victims survived, but Amman was shot and killed by the armed team that was tracking him a minute after his rampage commenced.

His prison release on Jan. 23 meant that he had spent just 10 days in a probation hostel before he was killed.

At a pre-inquest hearing in July, Amman’s relatives queried if the police and MI5 could have arrested him before he was able to conduct the attack.

MI5, Britain’s domestic security service, has applied for intelligence about Amman to be given public interest immunity, which would limit its use in court or any inquiry.

Rajiv Menon QC, representing the Amman family, argued that immunity should not be given if the material “goes to the state of mind of any relevant police officer or security service agent, as to what Sudesh Amman was planning or contemplating.”

The lawyer said his clients have objected to a statement by a police officer known as HA6, who was the senior investigating officer on the “priority” operation against Amman.

The officer said police “could not effect an arrest,” but Menon argued that they “knew the day before that Amman had bought items that could be used to make a fake suicide vest.”

At the hearing at the High Court, he added: “We will be making the point that the police knew more than enough to effect an arrest and should have done so.”

At the time, investigators and surveillance officers feared an attack by Amman was imminent, keeping him under constant observation.

Jonathan Hough QC, for the coroner, said: “This is not a case of signs being missed. It is difficult to imagine a higher grade response, short of arrest and you will be aware of what HA6 says about why that was not feasible.”

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is writing a supplementary report to cover the operation against Amman from January 2020.

The IOPC said on June 17 that during the investigation, “it is not anticipated that any concerns will arise as to the conduct of any police officers.”


In heat emergency, southern Europe scrambles for resources

In heat emergency, southern Europe scrambles for resources
Updated 46 min 42 sec ago

In heat emergency, southern Europe scrambles for resources

In heat emergency, southern Europe scrambles for resources
  • Temperatures reached 45 C in inland areas of Greece and nearby countries
  • Italy and Croatia were experiencing storms as well as wildfires in different regions

ATHENS: A heat wave baking southeast Europe has fueled deadly wildfires in Turkey and threatened the national grid in Greece as governments scrambled Monday to secure the resources needed to cope with the emergency.
Temperatures reached 45 C (113 F) in inland areas of Greece and nearby countries and are expected to remain high for most of the week.
Battling deadly wildfires along its coastline for a sixth day, Turkey broadened an appeal for international assistance and was promised water-dropping planes from the European Union. The fires have been blamed for the deaths of eight people in recent days.
In Greece, workers with health conditions were allowed to take time off work, while coal-fired power stations slated for retirement were brought back into service to shore up the national grid, under pressure due to widespread use of air conditioning.
Dann Mitchell, a professor of climate science at the University of Bristol, said that the heatwave in southeast Europe “is not at all unexpected, and very likely enhanced due to human-induced climate change.”
"The number of extreme heat events around the world is increasing year on year, with the top 10 hottest years on record all occurring since 2005,” Mitchell told The Associated Press.
“This year, we have seen a number of significant events, including a particularly dramatic heatwave in western Canada and the U.S., that was extreme even for current levels of climate change," Mitchell said. "These black swan events have always happened, but now they sit on the background of a hotter climate, so are even more deadly.”
As hot weather edged southward, Italy and Croatia were experiencing storms as well as wildfires in different regions of the country.
A small tornado in Istria, on Croatia’s northern Adriatic coast, toppled trees that destroyed several cars, hours before a large fire erupted outside the nearby resort of Trogir, threatening homes and the local power supply.
Some 30 people were treated for light smoke inhalation in Italy’s coastal city of Pescara, after flames tore through a nearby pine forest.
“That zone of pine forest is a nature reserve, and it’s completely destroyed. It brings tears to see it. The environmental damage is incalculable. This is the heart of the city, its green lung and today it is destroyed,” Pescara Mayor Carlo Masi said.
Cyprus, recovering from a major wildfire last month, kept water-dropping planes on patrol to respond to fires as they broke out.
“If you don’t react right away with a massive response to any outbreak, things can turn difficult quickly,” forestry service chief Charalambos Alexandrou, told state-run media.
“The conditions are war-like.”


Petraeus: US has abandoned Afghanistan to civil war

An Afghan National Army commando stands guard on top of a vehicle along the road in Enjil district of Herat province on August 1, 2021, as skirmishes between Afghan National Army and Taliban continues. (AFP)
An Afghan National Army commando stands guard on top of a vehicle along the road in Enjil district of Herat province on August 1, 2021, as skirmishes between Afghan National Army and Taliban continues. (AFP)
Updated 02 August 2021

Petraeus: US has abandoned Afghanistan to civil war

An Afghan National Army commando stands guard on top of a vehicle along the road in Enjil district of Herat province on August 1, 2021, as skirmishes between Afghan National Army and Taliban continues. (AFP)
  • Kandahar, Lashkar Gar on brink of Taliban capture while American forces prepare to depart
  • Ex-US military chief in Afghanistan warns hard-won rights, freedoms will likely be lost if onslaught continues

LONDON: America has deserted its responsibility to protect rights and freedoms in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus, the former US commander in the country, has told The Times.

With the Taliban rapidly sweeping up territories that were until recently defended by US-led coalition troops, Petraeus warned that a “medieval Islamist regime” and the return of terror-training safe havens are a realistic possibility.

Tens of thousands of Afghans have already started fleeing their homes as the Taliban start to take ground around Kandahar, the country’s second city.

“The rest of the world will see that we are not supporting democracy or maintaining the values that we promote around the world — human rights, particularly women’s rights, the right to education and freedom of speech and press — all very imperfect in Afghanistan, to be sure, but vastly better than if the Taliban reinstates a medieval Islamist regime,” Petraeus said.

“The worst-case scenario is we could see a bloody, brutal civil war similar to that of the 1990s when the Taliban prevailed,” he added.

“If that were to happen we would likely see the return of an Al-Qaeda sanctuary, although I don’t think Al-Qaeda would be able to threaten the homeland and Europe in the near-term. And certainly, our intelligence services and military will be watching for that.

“But it would be easier for Al-Qaeda if the Taliban seize control. We would see millions of refugees flooding into Pakistan and other neighboring countries. If the Taliban do take control we will see dramatic reductions in freedoms for Afghan citizens, particularly women. I don’t think this is what the world wants to see.”

Petraeus said he is shocked by how Washington is closing down its military operations in Afghanistan.

“If we had shown the determination and will to stay, we would have been in a much stronger negotiating position with the Taliban. But if we tell the enemy we are going to leave, why would they give up anything?

“I am a little bit unclear why we didn’t think we could maintain 3,500 troops to stop the Taliban from bringing back an ultraconservative Islamist theocracy, which is not in anyone’s interest.”

Petraeus added: “The war will go on and will get much worse. Ryan Crocker (Washington’s envoy to Kabul between 2011 and 2012) once said you can get tired of a movie and leave the theater but the movie continues to roll on. We forced the Afghan government to release thousands of Taliban prisoners, and got little or nothing for it. But if we had 3,500 troops there to maintain situational awareness and help our Afghan partners, we would have been in a position to prevent the Taliban from bringing civil war to the country.”

Petraeus contrasted the Afghanistan policy with the US approach to Iraq, where Washington has retained a small deployment of some 2,500 troops in an advisory role.

“But they can at least help the Iraqi security forces keep an eye on the insurgent and terrorist cell remnants of the Islamic State (Daesh),” he said.

The continued presence of US forces in Iraq is undergoing examination by military planners in Washington. 

The US has been launching airstrikes via fast jets and unmanned Reaper drones in support of Afghan forces. The drones take eight hours to travel to their targets from their airstrip in the Gulf.

Fighter jets launching sorties originate from Qatar, the UAE, and an aircraft carrier off the coast of Pakistan.

“The US may try to continue providing air support. But, to do that, it would have been wiser to keep Bagram and Kandahar air bases. Now, we have to fly from the Gulf, we can’t fly over Iran, so we have to go over southwest Pakistan. We’re not going to get a base in Pakistan,” Petraeus said.

“What will happen next depends most importantly on what the US will do to enable the Afghan air force to continue flying. The Afghan air force requires highly trained mechanics and supply chains and logistical support or they will not be operationally capable.”


UK eases travel restrictions as industry lobbies for more

UK eases travel restrictions as industry lobbies for more
Updated 02 August 2021

UK eases travel restrictions as industry lobbies for more

UK eases travel restrictions as industry lobbies for more
  • Travelers are required to take expensive PCR tests to prove they are virus-free

LONDON: Britain opened its borders to fully vaccinated travelers from the US and European Union on Monday as travel industry leaders urged the government to further ease restrictions and allow people to enjoy the benefits of a successful COVID-19 inoculation program.
The new rules came into effect amid reports that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government may add a new category to Britain’s traffic light system of travel restrictions, a move industry officials say would make many people decide to stay home.
As of Monday, fully vaccinated travelers from destinations on Britain’s “amber list” are allowed to enter the country without self-isolating for up to 10 days. The government is considering creating an amber watchlist to warn people about destinations that may be downgraded because of rising infection rates or the emergence of new variants.
“An amber watchlist will be viewed as a massive red flag, which is likely to cause bookings to those countries on that watchlist to collapse,’’ Huw Merriman, chairman of the House of Commons’ Transport Committee, told the BBC. “In my view, we don’t need any more uncertainty, complexity or anxiety for passengers or this beleaguered sector. It just needs clarity.”
British airlines and holiday companies are hoping for a late summer travel boom after the pandemic halted most international travel, slashing profits and threatening thousands of jobs. The number of passengers traveling through London’s Heathrow Airport, the UK’s busiest airport, fell 75 percent in the first half of this year.
Travelers are required to take expensive PCR tests to prove they are virus-free and countries including the US still bar foreign travelers from crossing their borders.
John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow’s chief executive, said the British government should allow most travelers to use cheaper lateral flow tests and work with countries like the US to ease remaining travel restrictions. This is warranted by the UK’s successful vaccination program, he said.
Almost 89 percent of adults in Britain have received at least one dose of vaccine and 73 percent have been fully vaccinated.
“This is a good start, we are showing that the vaccine is our passport to freedom,’’ Holland-Kaye said. “Let’s be confident in the vaccines. Tests show they work against delta and beta variants. So let’s start to show the vaccination will get us back to our lives as they used to be.”