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What is the Muslim Brotherhood?

Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammad Badie meets with Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh

Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammad Badie meets with Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh
Photo Credit: Mohammed El- Ostaz/POOL/ Flash90

Since the launch of Arab Spring, Obama’s administration has been supportive of the Arabs’ call for freedom and democracy. Such a graceful stance, nonetheless, has been hindered by the administration’s apparent tolerance of the succession of Islamists into power at the expense of emerging Arab democracies.

Apparently President Obama sees a point in accepting, and even welcoming, the arrival of Muslim Brotherhood members into power. Such a position will possibly soon prove a fatal one — and an example of the Islamists outwitting the US through the ballot box after failing with bombs and explosives.

President Obama’s original view of the Arab Spring was somewhat logical: if the Arabs wanted a change towards democracy, there was no point in stopping them or supporting the ailing regimes against which they were protesting.

Obama was not alone in his support; Senator John McCain shared the same view. In his speech before the World Economic Forum in Jordan, he said: “For decades, we in the United States were fed the belief that the so-called Arab Street was hostile to our interests and ideals. But now we are seeing that the opposite is true: The Arab Street wants political freedom, economic opportunity, equal justice and rights, and the chance to change their countries and their governments – not through suicide and murder, but peacefully, through politics.”

In theory, the Obama administration’s concept of supporting the Arab people’s desire for peaceful change toward democracy is valid. The consequences that have emerged, however, have been alarming. The Islamists, and particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, have dominated the parliamentary seats in Tunisia; the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamist Salafis accrued 72 percent of the parliamentary seats in Egypt; and the King of Morocco’s well-intentioned reforms have brought an Islamist government into power.

Some might argue that the Islamists’ domination of emerging Arab democracies is not Obama’s fault, but rather the free will of the Arabs who chose to vote for the Islamists. The problem is that there is evidence that the Administration has gone beyond tolerating the Arab people’s support for Islamists.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the US was willing to sit down with the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt. She said: “It is in the interests of the United States to engage with all parties that are peaceful and committed to nonviolence that intend to compete for the parliament and the presidency,” and she confirmed that contact with members of the Muslim Brotherhood is nothing new. She said the policy consisted of “continuing the approach of limited contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood that has existed on and off for about five or six years” — meaning that contacts had begun during the Bush administration.

The New York Times confirmed that the Obama Administration was — among other things — holding high-level meetings with the Muslim Brotherhood: “The Obama administration has begun to reverse decades of mistrust and hostility as it seeks to forge closer ties with an organization once viewed as irreconcilably opposed to United States interests.”

When the protests were still raging in Egypt, I suggested that the US administration should usher democratic-secular parties to come to power in Egypt rather than leaving them in the cold, and that “The challenge would be in nursing the fledgling democracies not to have them hijacked by radicals the way Lenin hijacked the Russian Revolution from Trotsky and Kerensky. Well-funded.”

Nevertheless, Obama’s current confidence in the Muslim Brotherhood must be weighed by facts, mainly – What is the Muslim Brotherhood and who does it represent?

For a start, the Muslim Brotherhood’s logo exhibits a Qur’an, with two swords underneath; below that, the word “Aedou,” which means “prepare” — from Quranic verse 8:60: “Prepare against them [the enemy] whatever you are able of power and horses by which you may strike terror into the [hearts of] the enemy, of Allah, and your enemy and others besides them whom you do not know [but] whom Allah knows.” Thus, the logo itself, usually sanitized and toned down in English translations, promotes terrorism as a virtue.

Similarly, the Brotherhood’s motto, now totally sanitized off its English language website, is: “Allah is our objective; the Quran is our law, the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and death in the way of Allah is our highest objective.”

Ever since the brotherhood landed itself a majority in the Egyptian Parliament, it has also been hard at work against Israel, first by announcing it would consider putting Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel to a referendum, while confirming that the Brotherhood will not recognize Israel. Moreover, the Muslim Brotherhood has not only turned its back on Obama but also on the very people who launched the Egyptian revolution. For example, Egypt’s ruling generals have been stating that they will try members of non-Islamist private organization on claims of suspicious foreign funding. When the US noted that the military government’s actions might affect US aid to Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood went to the media “warning” that cutting US aid might impose Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel — which suggests members of the Muslim Brotherhood were pleased to see competing private organizations and charities shut down.

Further, the Muslim Brotherhood serves as the benefactor of Hamas – most Hamas leaders and founders were Muslim Brotherhood members including its founding-father, Sheikh Ahmad Yassin. Hamas has since turned against the Palestinian Authority and ended up seizing the Gaza strip by force in 2006, throwing people who disagreed with it or from Fatah out of the 15th and 18th floors of buildings, and are still torturing and killing people Why would Hamas and its patron, the Muslim Brotherhood, change when dealing with Obama’s administration, especially now that they see themselves as advancing?

The Muslim Brotherhood leaders are not coy about sharing their agenda when speaking in Arabic – at a meeting of the National Defense and Security Committee of the Egyptian Parliament held in January 2007, Muslim Brotherhood parliament member Mohammed Shaker Sanar said the Muslim Brotherhood was not concerned about Western democracy, adding that nothing about the Muslim Brotherhood had changed: “The organization was founded in 1928 to reestablish the Caliphate destroyed by Ataturk [the founder of modern Turkey]….With Allah’s help [the Muslim Brotherhood] will institute the law of Allah.”

In addition to the Muslim Brotherhood’s domination of Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco, should Bashar Assad’s regime fall, the Brotherhood will help itself to a major role in Syria. As the Wall Street Journal notes, the non-Muslim Brotherhood opposition has thus failed to “coalesce into a solid front,” therefore the Muslim Brotherhood might “prove effective amid the power void of Syria’s opposition.” If Assad goes, another country will fall into the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Obama administration would do well to reconsider its tolerance toward the Muslim Brotherhood. The administration should start building up and supporting genuinely democratic alternative secular Arab opposition movements, not the Muslim Brotherhood’s “Islam is Democracy!” one [www.JCPA.org; Jonathan Halevi]. The US should also be developing long-term contingency plans to undermine the Muslim Brotherhood’s newfound political power. If not, a future US administration will have to pay for Obama’s connection to the Brotherhood — a radical group that believes in transforming the world to Islam by infiltrating democratic institutions rather than by terrorism — as it keeps moving closer, country by country, to achieving its ultimate goal of reestablishing a Muslim Empire.

 

Originally published by Stonegate Institute www.stonegateinstitute.org

About the Author: Mudar Zahran is a Palestinian writer and academic from Jordan, who now resides in the UK as a political refugee.


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