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Why the attempt to make the Muslim Brotherhood acceptable?

I guess, perhaps, it is a function of being brought up during the Cold War and watching one "people’s revolution" after another – each promising democracy, freedom and enlightened rule – turn into murderous and oppressive regimes which has me highly suspicious of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in Egypt.

I’m also fascinated and perplexed by those who would accept at face value the MB’s declarations in that regard.   Carefully reading the words of MB leaders doesn’t at all leave me with a warm fuzzy feeling.  Instead I see much of the West falling hook, line and sinker for pernicious propaganda designed to fool them into believing something that isn’t at all in evidence.

For instance, Dr Muhammad Badie is the new leader of the MB.  From their English language site (which I understand is much less inflammatory than their Arabic language site) he is quoted:

He concluded by telling reporters that the movement was open to new ideas hence their promoting of reform. The Brotherhood rejects violence and aims to achieve gradual reforms in a peaceful and constitutional way.

We totally reject violence and denounce it in all its forms," the new leader concluded. [Emphasis mine]

Sounds great. Of course he is quoted as saying things like this on the MB Arabic website:

-Arab and Muslim regimes are betraying their people by failing to confront the Muslim’s real enemies, not only Israel but also the United States. Waging jihad against both of these infidels is a commandment of Allah that cannot be disregarded. Governments have no right to stop their people from fighting the United States. “They are disregarding Allah’s commandment to wage jihad for His sake with [their] money and [their] lives, so that Allah’s word will reign supreme” over all non-Muslims.

–All Muslims are required by their religion to fight: "They crucially need to understand that the improvement and change that the [Muslim] nation seeks can only be attained through jihad and sacrifice and by raising a jihadi generation that pursues death just as the enemies pursue life." Notice that jihad here is not interpreted as so often happens by liars, apologists, and the merely ignorant in the West as spiritual striving. The clear meaning is one of armed struggle.

Mr. “non-violence” advocating … violence, as recently as October of last year.

Flip over to a little controversy of words between Conor Friedersdorf and Andy McCarthy.  Friedersdorf is upset about the way McCarthy worded a particular claim in a recent article.  In it McCarthy says, "Hamas is not merely colluding with the Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas is the Muslim Brotherhood." .  Friedersdorf responds with:

When Andy McCarthy says that The Muslim Brotherhood is Hamas, the point he’s making is that we can anticipate how the group will act if it comes to power in Egypt, because we know how Hamas acts in Gaza, and the two groups are the same. In contrast, Eli Lake doesn’t believe we can know how the Muslim Brotherhood will act in Egypt if it comes to power, he describes a moderate faction of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt that is quite different from Hamas, and even in the clip you cite, he isn’t arguing that The Muslim Brotherhood is Hamas – he is arguing that one of its chapters – the one in Gaza – is Hamas, and that an Egyptian government headed by the Muslim Brotherhood might strengthen the hand of Hamas in its ongoing conflict with Israel.

wold-sheep-clothing2Note the irrelevance of the argument in terms of the big picture.  The fact remains, and even Friedersdorf admits it, that the Gaza chapter of the Muslim Brotherhood is Hamas – a violent terror group (and one which fits perfectly in the new MB leaders “jihadist” framework, no?)  We can quibble about whether or not that chapter represents the MB as a whole or not, but the fact remains, it gives total lie to the claim of the MB’s new leader eschewing violence (as do his own words, of course).  You see, when it comes to Israel, the MB makes an exception to this declaration.

Don’t believe me?  Here’s a translated clip of Muhammad Ghanem, Muslim Brotherhood Representative in London, calling for civil disobedience, including "halting passage through the Suez Canal … and preparing for war with Israel"

Here’s an interview with Khaled Hamza, the editor of the Muslim Brotherhood’s official website.  He is described by the interviewer as “a leading voice of moderation within the party, and is central to its youth-outreach efforts.”

One of the things the MB has talked about is “secular government”.  They’re for it, well, sort of.  I mean that’s what they talk about, but what do they mean when they say it?  Well, here’s what they mean:

So the Brotherhood would support the maintenance of a secular government?

When the Muslim Brotherhood uses the word "secular," it does not mean no religion — we are talking about what we call a "civilized state." [emphasis mine]

Uh huh … and what makes a “civilized state?”  Read between the lines, people.

Here’s the former MB leader introducing the new MB leader:

Akef addressed a word to the press conference, which had convened for the historical announcement of the eighth Chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood Movement. He asserted that the movement was bound by a set of regulations however were and still are open to reform and progress suitable to specific incidents and specific times stressing that flexibility is a must for the success of any trend.

He called on the members of the movement to holdfast to its cause and not to waver or flinch in the face of possible oppression and tyranny. "Continue in your cause with head held high and follow through with integrity and reciprocated respect so that the banner of Islam may be raised. Support your leaders who are as one within your ranks". [emphasis mine]

There’s your “civilized state”. 

Back to the Hamza interview:

Do you support the establishment of sharia (Islamic law) in the way the government of Saudi Arabia has established it?

The Brotherhood does not agree with the monarchy in Saudi Arabia, because it is simply not democratic.

So you believe that there has to be a certain way to put sharia into place, but that establishing it through monarchy or by force is unacceptable?

Yes, democracy is the only way.

So the veneer of democracy is to be used to install what they all know they plan on installing – sharia law as a part of a “civilized state”.  Once sharia is “chosen”, then they have inoculated themselves against criticism from the West. And, of course, as long as they’re in power, sharia will never be “unchosen”.   Democracy is very useful in this way as most of those “people’s revolutions” demonstrated during the Cold War era.  Organize for the post-government era so that the MB has the best political organization out there, ban the opposing party (that would be Mubarak’s party which the MB says would be banned from running for office), and win the election.  Then implement the agenda:

What role would the Muslim Brotherhood have in creating a new state if it participated in the political process?

We would take part in Parliament and run in the elections for it. [Under Mubarak’s ban on the group, members of the Brotherhood must run for office as independents – Ed.) When people choose the Muslim Brotherhood, the West must understand that the people want it. [Emphasis mine]

There you go.  And check out this sleight of hand in that same interview.  The interviewer asks about the establishment of government in Egypt and whether or not the “Iranian model” is one the MB would follow:

What about the Iranian model?

The Iranians follow the Ayatollah; we do not believe Islam requires a theocracy.  In our view, the ulema (clergy) are only for teaching and education — they are out of the political sphere.  Iran has some good things, such as elections, but we disagree with all the aggression.  We disagree also with the human rights abuses from the government and attacks on the population.

Remember, the former chairman invoked raising the banner of Islam, and this fellow has already told us that “secular” doesn’t mean “no religion”.  And anyone who has studied Islam even a little bit understands there is no separation between the religion, law and governance.  In fact, that’s how a country becomes a “civilized state”.  So this statement is disingenuous at best.  So is claiming that the clergy are only “for teaching and education”.  And in fact, later on in the interview, he slips a bit.  This in a discussion on the role of women in politics:

If the Brotherhood were in power in Egypt, what would be the rights of women to participate in politics?  Could a woman serve in Parliament, or as President?

We believe in the complete participation of women in political life — except the presidency.

Except the presidency?  Why is that?

Most ulema agree that the president must be a man. Women can run for any political office except president…In Islam there are ideas and options, and Islam says it is possible [for a woman to serve as President], but for now we choose the other option. We say it is a choice, from the religious thinkers or schools of thought. But there are other options and different choices.  Some [Islamic] scholars say a woman can be President, but the Muslim Brotherhood, now, at this moment, does not agree with this. Maybe after some years they’d accept this.  I think so. For myself, Khaled, I personally think a woman can be President, no problem. [Emphasis mine]

The “ulema agree”?  Uh, if they’re just for “teaching and education” who cares?  Or are they making "decisions” that government abides by?  Sounds like the latter to me.   And notice how casually he throws women’s rights to the political process under the bus with “but for now we choose the other option”.  What’s to say “we” won’t choose any number of other options for the “civilized state” as decreed by the “ulema”?  Stoning.  Killing gays and infidels.  etc.

Finally, on the subject of violence and Israel:

What about relations with Israel?  What would the Brotherhood do regarding the situation between Israel and Palestine?

We think Israel is an occupation force and is not fair to the Palestinians. We do not believe in negotiation with Israel. As the Muslim Brotherhood, we must resist all this. They are an occupation force and we must resist this. Did you see what they do in Gaza, on the flotilla? Israel is a very dangerous force and we must resist.  Resistance is the only way, negotiation is not useful at all.

So would the Muslim Brotherhood, if in a position of government, help groups like Hamas?

Yes, sure.

Do you recognize Israel as a state?


And this guy is a “moderate” and “modernist”.

Beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing – the symbol of many a past “people’s revolution”.



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45 Responses to Why the attempt to make the Muslim Brotherhood acceptable?

  • Conor FriedersDork is a putz of the first order.
    But as to your larger question, the drive is on to “delusionize” the MB because 1) the Collective HATES America, 2) hence, Islamism is really just another perspective (and we deserve whatever we get), 3) there is not a flucking thing that Obama can do in Egypt, and so 4) the MB has to be made “normal” because reality would display the failure of Obamic “soft (flaccid) power”.
    Just like during the Cold War…when Collectivists were in power.

  • According to Michael Scheuer (the former CIA bin Laden specialist) the Brotherhood has made considerable strides within the Egyptian military. I don’t know how reliable that observation is, and I haven’t heard it from anyone else.
    As far as the Brotherhood’s two tracks go (i.e., what they say to the Western press and what they say to the Arab world) that’s an oldie pioneered by PLO and other Palestinian groups.

    Last night, I heard Steve Hayes, on the panel at the end of Bret Baier’s hour, say that all the evidence suggests that the people in the streets of Cairo are not organized by the Brotherhood. Hayes was citing what was available from most responsible press reports, etc. I can’t completely buy that, while acknowledging that it could be substantially true.

    It will always come down to which faction has the juice to shape the aftermath. So, if Scheuer is right, about the strength of the Brotherhood within the Egyptian military, the outcome could depend on which faction within the military prevails.

    But a deal between factions in the military — let’s say a secular nationalist faction and a Brotherhood faction — would probably wind up with the Brotherhood faction taking control, because it has the most momentum and the most directed agenda. Scheuer thinks that the situation will take about four or five years to resolve itself in favor of the Brotherhood. (That would reflect the gradualism of Islamism in Turkey after the election of an Islamist government there a few years back.)

    I don’t want to believe that analysis. I’d like to think there could be a different outcome. But Scheuer, whatever his deficits, is a lot closer to the intel than us mere uninformed citizens out here.

    • As far as the Brotherhood’s two tracks go (i.e., what they say to the Western press and what they say to the Arab world) that’s an oldie pioneered by PLO and other Palestinian groups.
      That was the first thought that crossed my mind when I read that.  Arafat was known to offer a moderate tone to English-speaking people (heck, it won him a Peace Prize!) and a much more violent and less accommodating tone when speaking to Arab peoples.  Those who sought to portray him as a humble peace-seeking leader could offer up the softer half of his rhetoric and ignore the rest.  It’s no surprise that the MB would act the same way and get the same level of consideration from the press.
      I am thinking that they have a fair chance at seizing power mostly because they are taking a clear and hard line on the question of how they approach Israel.  I am guessing that most Egyptians feel the same way, and will consider the softer stance on such things as treatment of women and democratic reform to be nothing more than talk, which can be easily discarded for a more fundamentalist track once they have secured control of the government.

    • I think I need to correct something here. I’m not positive that I did so, but I probably conflated some things Scheuer said, about a week ago, i.e., I can’t find an account of his remarks that back my recollection that he said the Brotherhood had worked its way into the Egyptian military. I thought I heard him say it. He was discussing the Egyptian military in very close proximity to discussing the Brotherhood’s progress in establishing itself in Egypt despite being outlawed.

      My regrets and apologies for most likely remembering his remarks inaccurately and getting that wrong. It was unintentional.

  • Of course they want the Muslim Brotherhood to look more acceptable to us. Else we might take more action against them. It is not certain that the Muslim Brotherhood will take over in Egypt and they want to keep resistance to a minimum.

    Please keep in mind that what Islamists say is in reference to ISLAMIC principals. For example, a man may take his wife against her will. We call this rape, but the Islamic legal system does not say that this is illegal. Islamic law does not see this as violence either. Our defninitions are different in so many fundamental ways that understanding is crippled without the background in Islamic law and culture. This has changed somewhat since 9/11 because many of us began to study Islam. Hence the rise in “Islamaphobia”.  

  • I thinks it them just liking the idea of getting rid of a dictator and wanting the feel-good factor to not be spoiled by the spectre of Islamist takeover of Egypt.

  • Revolutionaries always seem to love democracy. At least once. As the old saying goes, ‘one man, one vote, one time’.

  • McQWhy the attempt to make the Muslim Brotherhood acceptable?

    Wishful thinking of the same sort that led people (including many who bloody well ought to have known better) to praise such sterling characters as Hitler, Stalin,and even Diem.

    Ragspierre and Harun also pick up other reasons: hatred of America and / or a wooly-headed desire to enjoy the feel-good buzz for as long as possible.

  • Egypt – Senate resolution – Two of my favorite busybody AMERICAN Senators get together.
    I guess their authority to do this is covered under the commerce clause, as opposed to the “None of Your damned Business” clause.

  • “Why the attempt to make the Muslim Brotherhood acceptable?”
    Because, they may be Obama’s first choice to fill the “vacuum”?

  • Ah, come on. It is almost like you guys don’t appreciate how well Zimbabwe turned out under Mugambe. Egypt will be even better.

  • They are white washing the MB because it excuses not only Obama’s inaction to oppose their increase influence or even control, but his reach out to them during his apology tour.
    He dropped whatever outreach the US had to opposition groups in Egypt, except to the Muslim Brotherhood.  In fact he made a point of acknowledging those elected officials who are, for legal reason, part of different parties but really with the MB.  This was his behavior throughout the Middle East.  Recognizing the MB while ignoring the other opposition
    So when the MB shows its true colors years from now, they act ‘completely surprised’ at their behavior.

  • A little off topic.
    But isn’t Obama’s position a little 180 from treatment of Zelaya and Honduras.

    • Not really: The Dear Golfer is throwing a (more or less) pro-American government under the bus and otherwise meddling in the affairs of another country, something we were ASSURED that he would NEVER do because it is a clear sign of American arrogance or something.

      The real contrast is how he’s dealing with Egypt vs. how he dealt with Iran.

  • Well, let us consider, Here is a partial list of people originally praised by the American left:  Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Castro, Allende, Khomeini, Mugabe, Chavez, Nasser, Gorbachev, and even Saddam Hussein.

    But they get angry if you call them anti american.

    • WAIT!,  the left also praised Hitler and Mussolini, before they both turned on Stalin.  That is absolutely true, look it up if you don’t believe me.

  • By you seem to be really focused on the Muslim Brotherhood.  But they probably aren’t going to be the main force after the revolution.  This is a revolt of the youth, and it’s driven as much by al jazeera and modernism than anything else.  The Egyptian military won’t allow a theocratic state, and the youth would rise up again.  This is a new kind of 21st century revolution, I think a lot of people are still caught up in 20th century thinking.  The youth are increasingly rejecting Islamic extremism and groups like the Muslim Brotherhood.  With half the population in the Arab world under 22, that’s a pretty important fact!

    • Again, I hope you are correct, but it sounds a little pollyannish.  The youth in Iran aer also modernistic, but they have no power to overcome the mullahs and their corrupt government.

      It only takes a small minority of determined and bloodthirsty people to take control when the opposition are disorganized.

      Now, the only thing that gives me hope is the Military, but are they all that devoted to a secular society, or are they infiltrated by the Brotherhood.

      we just don’t know enough to make that call.

      • True, anything can happen — and I agree the military is a potentially very positive factor.  I think the modernists will win over time in Iran.  I liked the image of the Coptic Christians circling the Muslims at prayer time to protect them from any attacks (and Muslims came to the aid of Christians after the extremist bombings at Christmas).  Historically modernism is a force that can be slowed, but not defeated.  Unfortunately progress can be bloody.

        • For someone who believed so deeply in the car bombers in Iraq, and still points an excited, and bloody, finger at late outbreaks of violence there, that comment can only be appreciated in the one thing you always go without: context.

          I think of how you eagerly ignored and turned your nose up at the great mass of Iraqis who risked their lives to participate in the political process there, and then I read your comments here. The closest analogy I can find for what you do is someone who masturbates in public.

        • “freedom” in Islam is not the same as what we think of as “freedom”.

          And you’re a fool.  The MB will end up on top in this, once they’ve consolidated power, and dealt with those annoying countries up stream on the Nile (hopefully that will keep them occupried for a LONNNNG TIME) we’ll get another sample of Israel launching a preemptive attack on their historical opponents (Syria and Egypt) and smashing their military infrastructure, again.   I’m sure the Israeli’s won’t come away unscatched in the process, they never do.

          But you’re a damned fool, there’s only 1 way this is going to go.   I’d love to be wrong, but the Egyptians won’t be left alone to sort this out, and the kinds of people who are going to ‘help’ practice Sharia law and are eager to unveil the hiding place of the missing Imam.

          • Looker, I think you’re not been paying attention to the politics of the region, and the trends.  The idea that a small group can just grab power and rule is becoming obsolete.  The population is far better informed thanks to al jazeera especially.  No one is saying any more that it is an anti-American Islamicist propaganda station.  Indeed, it appears to be the strongest force in achieving the goal for region President Bush laid out in his Administration.  I go into this more in my blog, but President Bush had the basic problems of the region identified, but his solution couldn’t work. A superpower can’t go in and simply force democracy, it raises resentments and anger.
            The Islamic extremists are, like the authoritarians, relics of the 20th Century. Your thinking seems shaped by the state-centric “cold war” kind of thinking that is becoming obsolete.   The news of the last decade is that despite terror attacks and even the Iraq war, the publics– again a majority under age 23 — are rejecting the extremist message in overwhelming numbers.   With social networks, the internet, and the capacity to both get information and organize, politics is undergoing a fundamental shift.  The good news is that this is likely to lead to a decentralization of power and weakening of the bureaucratic state. The path won’t be easy, and things can get worse before better, history is unwritten.  But the world is changing.

          • What blabbering nonsense. Yet I know that you’re going to walk this very same codswallop into your classroom on Monday. The history of “youth revolt” is a sorry one indeed, and one of the reasons for that is that the young are quickly shaped and molded by rumors and ridiculous cliches and eventually by charismatists, like bin Laden and Saddam, who use them to muster power or incite terror and select from them the truly delusional for the suicide missions.

            You are such a stupid fellow, Scott, that it’s often easy to forget how diabolically superficial you are.

          • Once again, you’re grasp of human nature sucks.  Islam is fundamentally NOT democratic, it’s that simple, it’s a theocracy.
            Not that there’s much we can do about it, but at least understand it and stop painting rainbows and moon ponies.  I’m not suggesting it’s our JOB to force democracy on them, that’s YOUR strawman, not mine.
            How big do you suppose the membership in HAMAS is in the West Bank and Gaza?  How many followers did Lenin ACTUALLY have?  I don’t give a rat’s ass if the ‘majority’ is under 23, they’ll be lied to, and by the time they realize what’s happened it will be too late for them to do a damned thing.   Iran is a perfect example.
            I don’t have to have a majority to run a country, all I have to do is get enough people like YOU to sit back and wait for whatever miracle I promised while my henchmen secure control of the things that matter.  Then we select a group to focus your wrath on, external or internal, and keep you busy chasing the fantasy.  History demonstrates again, and again, and again, that people want to be LEFT ALONE, and if you can manage to convince enough of them that they’ll be left alone the majority won’t do a damned thing.
            You see it here today, every time Obama opens his mouth and reminds us the “RICH” aren’t paying their fair share, same play book.

    • Ah, “a new kind of 21st century revolution,” where the military is in control.

      Wow, is this ever a new century!

    • And the plasticity of youth was well established in that dirty old 20th century, Scott, from the Third Reich to the Khmer Rouge. So, what’s the theory here, that cell phones, twitter, and al Jazeera are the new barricade against oppression? I’d like to say you can’t be serious, but experience has taught me that you’re serious about everything you say, for at least the minute or three that it takes you to type it.

      • The cult of youth is a common thread in the Collectivist doctrine.  It is one way they use to attack culture.  Remember our little exploration of the Frankfurt School?
        Erp has been challenged on this several times now.  What was the average age of the 9/11 attackers?  What is the age of most jahidists?  What were the influences for pluralism and modernity that are driving Egyptian yowts to this new dawn of classical liberalism there?
        (Crickets singing)

        • You can’t deny that the jihadists and 9-11 perpetrators are a vast minority of the Arab population, regardless of their average age, be it 25 or 55.  A handful of them can do damage, but they can’t halt the flow of history, any more than you can.   Enjoy!

          • How many moths (weeks? days?) ago was it that you were insisting that al Qaeda, with the help of the ‘Orrible George Bush, was directing the flow of history? Now you’ve switched sides and have found a new historical determinism, this one the soft ice cream version.

          • “but they can’t halt the flow of history”

            Shouldn’t you be capitalizing ‘history’?

            Very entertaining, though. I am reminded of another professor, the great Irwin Corey.

        • Oh, and the 9-11 hijackers would probably be in their mid-30s or 40 by now.  Maybe older.  They were of a different generation than the youth arising now.

    • The left’s ‘al jazeera as a positive force’ storyline continues, with some toning down of claimed knowledge of the Egyptian military.

      • No one can deny that al jazeera is a positive force, unless you’re on the side of authoritarians.  It is probably the most powerful force for liberty in the Mideast, giving people knowledge of the corruption and repression in the Arab world.  This is an al jazeera revolution.

        • No one can deny it? What is this, Codswallop Day at the Erb computer? You’re a blabbering imbecile. Al Jazeera is a broadcast media outfit that is passing along riffs and rumors and cliches, just as every media outfit does. If it could get anywhere near the real facts, and tried to report them, it would be blown sky high and its correspondents would start disappearing. As long as the narrative holds (Mubarek bad, crowds in street good), then things will go swimmingly for al Jazeera. Get off that reservation and the morgue gets busy. When you have a clod like El Baradei out there pooh-poohing the Muslim Brotherhood, then you can only imagine who has who scared in the big Middle Eastern pie.

          Brevity is the soul of wit.  I just can’t improve on that…

        • Another key to the storyline being pushed here is that being against the authoritarian governments in the Middle East automatically makes a group por-loberty. Al Qaeda is also strongly opposed to the authoritarian governments in the Arab world, especially any that work with the US as much as Egypt does.  Not that al jazeera is in league with AQ, just showing the huge hole in the premise the left is trying to push here.

  • O.K., here’s Andrew McCarthy today on the nature of the Egyptian military. He explains that there are indeed Islamists and Brotherhood types in the rank and file, because the military is a reflection of Egyptian society. I think the title and subtitle on the piece are slightly misleading. His conclusions are not quite as severe as the title suggests.

  • Now the New York Times is reporting that Obama has backed off his demands for immediate flower power and is behind an arrangement where Suleiman leads a transition into the September elections. Merkel and Cameron have signed on. And there’s going to be outreach to the Brotherhood, but it has yet to be ratified by the mob in the streets. Though it sounds as though it has been ratified by the military.

    • “How can it be that Bush’s America understood the problem of repression in the Arab world, but Obama’s America ignored it until last week,” Haaretz asks.
      I guess it was that “last century” thinking…  Funny…  Bush funded the modernizing elements in Egypt.  Obama left them in the cold.  Like he left the Iranians to dangle.  “Flaccid power” at work.  Flucking FECKLESS…!!!

    • I’m sure Jimmy Carter will show up to rubber stamp the validity of the elections.