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Jeremy Corbyn salute "was showing support for pro-democracy campaigners"

Jeremy Corbyn, left, during a factory visit in Stoke-on-Trent on Tuesday. Picture by Aaron Chown/PA

JEREMY Corbyn was showing support for pro-democracy campaigners killed by Egyptian security forces when he used a four-fingered salute during a visit to a mosque, Labour has said.

The Daily Telegraph published a picture of the Labour leader making the Rabbi'ah sign, which it said was linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, during a visit to the Finsbury Park mosque his north London constituency in 2016.

But Labour said the gesture was actually widely known as a symbol of solidarity for the victims of the 2013 Rabba massacre, when security forces killed hundreds of protesters demonstrating against the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi in a military coup.

"Jeremy was standing up for democracy, justice and the right to protest in Egypt after the military had staged a coup against an elected president," a spokesman said.

"The four-fingered gesture is a well-known symbol of solidarity with the victims of the 2013 Rabaa massacre in Cairo, in which over a thousand people were estimated to have been indiscriminately killed and many thousands of peaceful protesters injured by the Egyptian security forces."

Mr Morsi, who led the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, was elected president in 2012 following the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in a wave of popular protests, only to be deposed a year later by the military.

The crackdown against protesters which followed his removal has been widely condemned by human rights organisations.

However the Brotherhood - which was itself accused of human rights abuses during Mr Morsi's brief time in office - remains controversial, both in the Middle East and beyond.

A review published by David Cameron's coalition government in 2015 found parts of the organisation had a "highly ambiguous relationship with violent extremism", although it stopped short of recommending it should be banned in the UK.

Counter-extremist activist and former Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Maajid Nawaz told the Telegraph the group was "to Muslims what the BNP are to the English: bigoted, identitarian and dangerous".

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