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.”


UN urges warring parties to halt fighting for vaccinations

UN urges warring parties to halt fighting for vaccinations
Updated 27 February 2021

UN urges warring parties to halt fighting for vaccinations

UN urges warring parties to halt fighting for vaccinations

UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution Friday demanding that all warring parties immediately institute a “sustained humanitarian pause” to enable the unhindered delivery of COVID-19 vaccines and the vaccination of millions of people in conflict areas.
The British-drafted resolution, cosponsored by 112 countries, reiterated the council’s demand last July 1 for “a general and immediate cessation of hostilities” in major conflicts on the Security Council agenda, from Syria and Yemen to Central African Republic, Mali and Sudan and Somalia.
It expressed concern that an appeal for cease-fires in all conflicts to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, which was first made by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on March 23, 2020, “was not fully heeded.”
Britain’s UN Ambassador Barbara Woodward, the current council president, announced the result of the email vote because the council has been meeting virtually, saying the resolution “will help bring vaccines to 160 million people in conflict areas or displaced by conflict.”
“This is a first step,” she stressed, and it will require further international efforts.
But Woodward said the large number of cosponsors and unanimous council approval are “a strong testament to the international commitment to seeing this happen.”
“Obviously each of these situations will require further negotiations at country and even at field and local level,” she said. “and we’ve asked the secretary-general to report back where they encounter barriers in this.”
The resolution adopted Friday recognizes “that armed conflicts can exacerbate the COVID-19 pandemic, and that inversely the pandemic can exacerbate the adverse humanitarian impact of armed conflicts, as well as exacerbating inequalities.”
It also recognizes “the role of extensive immunization against COVID-19 as a global public good for health in preventing, containing, and stopping transmission, of COVID-19 and its variant strains, in order to bring the pandemic to an end.”
The Security Council stressed that “equitable access to affordable COVID-19 vaccines” authorized by the World Health Organization or regulatory authorities “is essential to end the pandemic.”
It also stressed “the need for solidarity, equity, and efficacy” in vaccinations.
And it called for donations of vaccines from richer developed nations to low- and middle-income countries and other countries in need, including through the COVAX Facility, the ambitious WHO program to buy and deliver coronavirus vaccines for the world’s poorest people.


Myanmar’s UN envoy dramatically opposes coup in his country

Myanmar’s UN envoy dramatically opposes coup in his country
Updated 27 February 2021

Myanmar’s UN envoy dramatically opposes coup in his country

Myanmar’s UN envoy dramatically opposes coup in his country
  • Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun urged all countries to pressure the Myanmar military regime to restore democracy
  • His surprise statement not only drew applause but commendations from speaker after speaker at the assembly meeting

UNITED NATIONS: Myanmar’s UN ambassador strongly opposed the military coup in his country and appealed for the “strongest possible action from the international community” to immediately restore democracy, in a dramatic speech to the UN General Assembly Friday that drew loud applause from many diplomats in the 193-nation global body.
Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun began his statement saying he represented Aung San Suu Kyi’s “civilian government elected by the people” in November, and supported their fight for the end of military rule.
He urged all countries to issue public statements strongly condemning the Feb. 1 coup, and to refuse to recognize the military regime and ask its leaders to respect the free and fair elections in November won by Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party. He also urged stronger international measures to stop violence by security forces against peaceful demonstrators.
“It is time for the military to immediately relinquish power and release those detained,” Tun said, agreeing with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that military coup “is not acceptable in this modern world and the coup must cease.”
“We will continue to fight for a government which is of the people, by the people, for the people,” he vowed.
Tun’s surprise statement not only drew applause but commendations from speaker after speaker at the assembly meeting including ambassadors representing the European Union, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the new US ambassador, Linda Thomas Greenfield. She joined others in describing the speech as “courageous,” “powerful” and “brave.”
In her first appearance at the assembly since presenting her credentials to Guterres in Thursday, Thomas-Greenfield said the United States “stands in solidarity” with the people of Myanmar who are in the streets protesting the coup. And she reiterated President Joe Biden’s warning that “we will show the military that their actions have consequences” and demand to the military “to immediately relinquish power.”
In a tweet later, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken referred to Myanmar by its former name Burma and said “the United States commends the courageous and clear statement” of Ambassador Tun, “and by those in Burma who are making their voices heard. We must all heed their call to restore democracy in Burma.”
The assembly meeting was called to hear a briefing from the UN special envoy for Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, who said it is time to “sound the alarm” about the coup and the military pushing democratic processes aside, violating the constitution, reversing reforms instituted by Suu Kyi, and arresting peaceful protesters, civil society representatives and members of the media.
She pointed to restrictions on the Internet and communication services and the detention of about 700 people according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Myanmar, and she called “the use of lethal force and rising deaths unacceptable.”
The huge protests in the country are not about a fight between Suu Kyi’s party and the military, she said, “it is a fight without arms.”
Addressing diplomats in the General Assembly chamber by video link, Schraner Burgener urged “all of you to collectively send a clear signal in support of democracy in Myanmar.”
The military takeover in Myanmar shocked the international community and reversed years of slow progress toward democracy. Suu Kyi’s party would have been installed for a second five-year term that day, but the army blocked Parliament from convening and detained her, President Win Myint and other top members of her government.
Myanmar’s military says it took power because November’s election was marked by widespread voting irregularities, an assertion that was refuted by the election commission, whose members have since been replaced by the ruling junta. The junta has said it will rule for a year under a state of emergency and then hold new polls.
Schraner Burgener told the General Assembly that democratically elected representatives were able to be sworn in according to the constitution on Feb. 4 and have formed the Committee Representing Pyidaungu Hluttaw (National Assembly), known as CRPH, and are seeking “to uphold their obligations to serve the people who voted for them.”
Tun began his remarks by reading a statement from CRPH stressing the legitimacy of the election results and declaring that the military overthrew the democratically elected government. He cited the massive opposition by the people, saying “now is not the time for the international community to tolerate the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Myanmar military.”
The CRPH, saying it represented some 80 parliamentarians, asked the UN, the Security Council and the international community “that aspires to build a peaceful and civilized global society to use any means necessary to take action against the Myanmar military and to provide safety and security for the people of Myanmar.”
China’s UN Ambassador Zhang Jun, whose neighboring country has invested billions of dollars in Myanmar and is its biggest trading partner, called on all parties to handle differences through dialogue “under the constitutional and legal framework,” avoid violence, “and continue to promote the domestic democratic transformation process in an orderly manner.”
Never mentioning the military or a coup and describing what happened in Myanmar as “in essence Myanmar’s internal affairs,” he said the international community should help the parties “bridge their differences and solve problems.”
Zhang backed efforts by the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which Myanmar belongs to, “in playing an active role in easing the current state of affairs.”
ASEAN countries are discussing holding an informal foreign ministers meeting and “we look forward to its early convening on the basis of consensus, thus providing a useful platform and opportunity for promoting problem solving,” he said.


UK government plans night-time Ramadan vaccine drive

UK government plans night-time Ramadan vaccine drive
Updated 26 February 2021

UK government plans night-time Ramadan vaccine drive

UK government plans night-time Ramadan vaccine drive
  • Campaigner tells Arab News he welcomes “proactive” approach to reaching Muslim communities
  • Report: British Asians have highest mortality rate during second wave of COVID-19

LONDON: A night-time vaccine drive is reportedly being planned by the UK government during Ramadan, following reports that the country’s Asian community had the highest mortality rate during the second wave of COVID-19.
The government hopes to mitigate a potential vaccine uptake drop-off by Muslims during the holy month, the Daily Telegraph reported.
Ramadan 2021 will begin on April 12, a critical time in the UK’s vaccine rollout and just three days before the government’s planned date to have offered all over 50s the jab.
Concerns over the impact of Ramadan on vaccine uptake are compounded by a government report that British Asians, many of whom are Muslim, are the demographic with the highest COVID-19 mortality rate per 100,000 people in the UK’s second wave.
“A large part of this continued disparity for South Asian populations can be explained from geographic, socioeconomic and health factors,” the report read.
Kawsar Zaman, founder of the Take the COVID-19 Vaccine Campaign, told Arab News that he welcomes the government’s “proactive” approach in reaching out to and inoculating the UK’s Muslim community.
“I think the plan is excellent. Anything that we can do to promote uptake, particularly within communities where we’ve found it difficult to encourage people to take the vaccine, is positive,” he said.
“Particularly during Ramadan, where nine times out of 10 people are awake late into the night and early morning, anything that makes receiving the jab more accessible is great news.”
Zaman also hailed the government’s outreach to, and consultation with, Britain’s Muslim communities throughout the country’s world-leading vaccine rollout.
“What’s quite unique about this vaccine drive is that they’re being proactive about it, as well as consulting with a very wide range of people in many communities, including the Muslim community — which isn’t always the case,” he said.
Zaman singled out for praise Nadhim Zahawi, who is in charge of the UK’s vaccine rollout, saying he has done “a lot of really good work” and has been “very open in meeting with communities.” Zaman added: “What’s great here is that they’re listening first, then acting.”


Indonesia finds weapons on impounded Iranian tanker

Indonesia finds weapons on impounded Iranian tanker
Updated 27 February 2021

Indonesia finds weapons on impounded Iranian tanker

Indonesia finds weapons on impounded Iranian tanker
  • Vessel was seized along with Panamanian ship in January
  • Crew members face charges including violation of the right to innocent passage

JAKARTA: Indonesian authorities said on Friday that firearms and ammunition have been found on an Iranian supertanker, one of the two vessels seized in the country’s waters over a suspected illegal oil transfer last month.
The Iranian-flagged MT Horse and the Panamanian-flagged MT Freya were impounded by the Maritime Security Agency (Bakamla) in waters bordering the South China Sea off Pontianak, West Kalimantan province, on Jan. 24, over suspicions of illegal fuel transfer between ships, polluting the water with oil, violation of the right of innocent passage, turning off their identification systems, illegal anchorage, and not flying their national flags.
On Friday, authorities said they had also found weapons on the Iranian tanker. “Investigators found a sniper rifle, three assault rifles, two pistols, and ammunition on the Iranian-flagged tanker MT Horse,” Bakamla spokesperson Col. Wisnu Pramandita told Arab News.
Earlier on Friday, Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs Mahfud MD said during a joint press conference with Bakamla that all other suspicions had also been confirmed.
“We concluded they deliberately did all those violations, and they were caught doing them in tandem,” he said, as Bakamla chief Vice Admiral Aan Kurnia told reporters that the two tankers had trespassed 25 nautical miles into Indonesia’s territorial waters when the agency caught them.
The tankers were impounded after a patrol ship detected an idle signal indicating that the automatic identification system of the vessels was turned off. When Bakamala personnel arrived at the location they caught the tankers conducting a ship-to-ship fuel transfer from MT Horse to MT Freya, with their hulls covered to conceal their identities.
The vessels have been anchored at Bakamla’s base in Batam, Riau Islands province near Singapore, since their seizure.
Investigators are still questioning 25 crew from the MT Horse and 36 Chinese crew members of the MT Freya, which is managed by a Shanghai-based company.
Deputy Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs Sugeng Purnomo said the inter-departmental task force investigating the case will soon press charges against the suspects. 
In the wake of the incident, Transport Minister Budi Karya Sumadi has ordered stricter law enforcement in the country’s waters, ministry spokesperson Adita Irawati told Arab News.
“We are committed to enforcing the law on Indonesia’s territorial waters, in accordance also with the international law as enforced by the International Maritime Organization,” Irawati said.


Cases of vaccine easing long COVID reported

Britain has put millions of pounds into studying the long term effects of COVID-19. (Reuters/File Photo)
Britain has put millions of pounds into studying the long term effects of COVID-19. (Reuters/File Photo)
Updated 26 February 2021

Cases of vaccine easing long COVID reported

Britain has put millions of pounds into studying the long term effects of COVID-19. (Reuters/File Photo)
  • Doctors call for formal studies of what is currently anecdotal evidence
  • Expert: ‘This is a very interesting and potentially important observation’

LONDON: Anecdotal reports that people with long COVID are making dramatic recoveries after being vaccinated are intriguing and should be followed up with formal studies, according to scientists.

While most people recover quickly from COVID-19, roughly one in 10 people experience symptoms that include fatigue, headaches and shortness of breath three months later — a phenomenon known as long COVID.

But some of these patients are reporting rapid improvements to their health after receiving the vaccine, doctors have said.

“This is a very interesting and potentially important observation,” said Charles Bangham, who holds the chair in immunology at Imperial College London. “At present these are just anecdotes, and systematic studies would be needed, but anecdotes can sometimes point the way to important discoveries.”

Prof. Ian Hall, who runs a long COVID clinic in Nottingham, said he has been contacted by several patients who told him their symptoms improved dramatically after a jab.

It is possible, he said, that being vaccinated gives some people a “psychological boost” that causes them to feel better.

“But I think, anecdotally, that there is enough here to suggest that there might be some interesting consequences of the vaccine, presumably altering the immunological balance, which is contributing to resolution of low-grade inflammation, which is making people feel better,” he added.

“I would not go as far as to say it proves a connection, but science is based upon following up interesting observations.”

The World Health Organization has warned that the burden of long COVID is “real” and “significant.”

King’s College London is running a project tracking 600,000 people who have received COVID-19 vaccines.

The study’s lead scientist Tim Spector said he hopes to have data on how vaccines affect long COVID within weeks.