Thursday, February 17, 2011

Is The Muslim Brotherhood a Terrorist Organization?

The Muslim Brotherhood has had some violent episodes in its past. It has had adherents that now are terrorists. But it is not a terrorist organization. It advocates the use of peaceful means to achieve good governance. It is worse than disingenuous to say that the Brotherhood is a terrorist organization or that it is a danger to the West.

How many countries have placed the Muslim Brotherhood on their terror watch lists? Not many, if any at all. The United States certainly doesn't claim that the Brotherhood (Arabic="Ikhwan") is a terrorist organization.

Samah Sadek Mostafa, a female journalist from Egypt, would be one to suffer if a radical Islamist group (akin to what some think the MB is) were to gain the upper hand in Eygpt. Mostafa sets the record straight, though, on how she feels about the Muslim Brotherhood--she likes it:
 The real danger for the United States is not the Society of the Muslim Brothers; in fact, your reporters in Cairo streets can tell you about how important they are in the Egyptian community.

When people pray in the streets it doesn't mean that they are extremists, it means they are expressing their faith in God's ability to help them. Women in veils don't mean they are extremists, either, even if they are members of the Muslim Brothers. 
Perhaps most importantly, Mostafa points out that

The Muslim Brotherhood is not on the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations. 
The Ikhwan has had its periods of violence. Says Robin Wright in her book Dreams and Shadows: The Future of the Middle East:
...in the 1940s and 1950s, the Brotherhood entered a militant second phase. Angered by the monarchy [and] heavy British influence in Egypt...the movement bred an extremist wing known as "the specialists"...which launched sporadic waves of attacks on both domestic and foreign targets.
More recently, however, the MB has been much less violent. Mohammad Habib from the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, tells Robin Wright

"We are against revolutions in general and definitely against chaos. We are also against using armed struggle for change and military coups. No. No, we prefer peaceful change through constitutional and legal channels. There is no violence in our ideology."
 Admittedly, some currently well-known terrorists, such as Ayman al Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden, have been associated with the Brotherhood. This cannot be blamed on the Brotherhood itself. That would be somewhat akin to blaming the Mormon Church for the actions of Ron and Dan Lafferty. The Muslim Brotherhood has long abhorred the actions of such groups as al Qaeda:
Khaled Hamza, Ikhwanweb's chief editor, strongly condemned statements by jihadist groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda concerning the ongoing protests in Egypt, calling for Egyptians to wage violent "Jihad" to topple the regime in Egypt.

Hamza confirmed the Muslim Brotherhood's firm stance against use of violence to achieve legitimate popular demands, rejecting any interference in Egypt’s domestic affairs. He stressed that Egyptians are capable of solving their problem without intrusion, meddling and prying from foreign groups such as Alqaeda and similar groups advocating the use of violence.
The Brotherhood advocates the integration and cooperation of multi-faceted groups.
It is clear that this country is never going to be (and never was) a uni-racial, uni-cultural place. Multicultural, multiracial, multireligious societies are more and more going to be the norm. We have to learn to live together.

Should we fear the Muslim Brotherhood? Mohammed El Baradei had this to say about it:
"The Muslim Brotherhood has nothing to do with the Iranian model, has nothing to do with extremism as we have seen it in Afghanistan and other places. The Muslim Brotherhood is a religiously conservative group. They are a minority in Egypt," he told CNN.

"I have been reaching out to them. We need to include them. They are part of the Egyptian society...
Where do such ideas come from that the MB is a militant organization bent on taking over first Egypt and then the world? From the former Egyptian dictatorship, for one:
Egypt's rulers have long understood that they can't persuade the West that secular reformers pose a danger to Egypt or the world. The Islamists, however, are another story. So the regime and its defenders harp relentlessly on the Brotherhood's [supposed] "real" intentions. When I was in Cairo in early 2007, Hossam Badrawi, the man who was just named Secretary-General of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), told me that allowing the Brotherhood to freely run for office would be like legalizing the Nazi party in Germany. Another cautioned that, while the Brothers were not "necessarily" terrorists, they certainly hoped to impose Saudi-style sharia on Egypt.

And it worked.

Unfortunately, it seems to have worked in the minds of a lot of Americans. One of the favorite bogeymen of American analysts is that the Brotherhood would bathe Egypt in the violence and repression of Sharia law.  Robin Wright tells us that "[l]ike many Muslim countries, Egypt already requires laws to be compatible with Sharia."

Is the Muslim Brotherhood to be feared? Not nearly so much as the former Egyptian regime. And not nearly so much as the incessant talking heads in America who tell us that there are Muslim Brothers under all of our beds. ;-)

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Frank, for taking the time to pull those reports together. It makes great newscopy to label groups and fearmonger about them, but it generally does more harm than good.

    Justin Raimondo also expounded on this theme a bit over at his site last week. Regardless of whether one agrees with his proposed solutions, his contrast between what is happening where we've guided things in Iraq (and stultifying, extremist versions of 'Sharia' law are increasingly being imposed) and what could happen in Egypt if we don't continue imposing our 'guidance' at the barrel of a gun in that land are pretty interesting.

    http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2011/02/08/do-we-need-a-foreign-policy/

    ReplyDelete

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