Today’s astonishing fact is that the Obama Administration is pumping for the inclusion of the granddaddy of all terrorist outfits, the Muslim Brotherhood, in the next Egyptian regime. In an obvious reference to the Brotherhood, the White House has stated that the new government should “include a whole host of important non-secular actors.” Over at the State Department, a spokesman noted that the Brotherhood is “a fact of life in Egypt” without condemning it. “If they choose to participate and respect the democratic process,” he added, they can certainly play a role in the next government.
Who Are These Guys?
The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in 1928, with a credo of “Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.” During the 1930s and 1940s, it collaborated with the anti-Semitic campaign of the Nazis, distributing copies of both Mein Kampf and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. In the early 1950s, it cooperated uneasily with secularist Gamal Abdel Nasser in his bid to unseat the British puppet king, and Nasser included two Brotherhood members in his cabinet. But Nasser, who famously said “I fail to understand how we can rule in accordance with the Koran,” refused to follow God’s plan in toto. Not only did he continue to permit Egyptians to enjoy alcohol, but he made good on his promise of land reform, breaking up vast estates to create 1.5 million new Egyptian landowners. Many of these estates had been owned by Muslim monastic orders; they never forgave Nasser for derailing their gravy train.
So in 1954, the Brotherhood tried to kill him. Nasser was not a good sport about this; he threw the entire force of the state against the Brotherhood, using indefensibly brutal methods. The Brotherhood responded with more assassination attempts, financed by the United States government, which distrusted Nasser for his attempt to maintain neutrality in the Cold War.
Nasser ultimately died a natural death, to be succeeded by Anwar Sadat. Sadat, who liked being called “the Devout President,” did exactly what we are encouraging today, by freeing imprisoned members of the Brotherhood and involving them in Egyptian political life. Evidently, he wasn’t devout enough; in 1981, an offshoot of the Brotherhood murdered him during a military parade.
In recent years, the Brotherhood claims to have renounced violence. Yet it launched the violent demonstrations against the Danish newspaper cartoons of the prophet Muhammad, and demanded a boycott until Denmark would agree to scrap freedom of expression. It also called for resurrecting the long-discarded idea of forcing non-Muslims to pay a “protection” tax for the privilege of continued earthly existence.
Why all the bloodshed? The ideas underlying the Muslim Brotherhood were detailed most articulately in the 1960s by Sayyid Qutb, its chief theoretician. Qutb had actually spent several years in the United States, where he wound up loathing every aspect of Western culture, especially our music. “Jazz music is [the Americans’] music of choice” he complained. “This is that music that the Negroes invented to satisfy their primitive inclinations, as well as their desire to be noisy.” Nor did he care for the freedom of our women, or our widespread indifference to the command of God.
Qutb characterized the secular form of government, in which humans do their imperfect best to govern themselves, fixing errors as they go, as “Barbarity,” contrasting it profoundly with his preferred world in which God experts would rule:
Barbarity signifies the domination of man over man, or rather the subservience to man rather than to Allah. It denotes rejection of the divinity of God and the adulation of mortals. In this sense, Barbarity is not just a specific historical period (referring to the era preceding the advent of Islam), but a state of affairs. Such a state of human affairs existed in the past, exists today, and may exist in the future, taking the form of Barbarity, that mirror-image and sworn enemy of Islam. In any time and place human beings face that clear-cut choice: either to observe the Law of Allah in its entirety, or to apply laws laid down by man of one sort or another. In the latter case, they are in a state of Barbarity. Man is at the crossroads and that is the choice: Islam or Barbarity. Modern-style Barbarity in the industrialized societies of Europe and America is essentially similar to the old-time Barbarity in pagan and nomadic Arabia. For in both systems, man is under the dominion of man rather than of Allah.
Qutb was hung for treason in 1966; much of the evidence at his trial was drawn directly from his writings. But his spirit lives on. Al-Qaeda’s deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahiri is a Brotherhood graduate; Mohammed Atta, the lead hijacker on September 11, belonged to the Brotherhood-affiliated Engineer’s Syndicate. Osama bin Laden himself learned his trade directly from Sayyid Qutb’s brother.
There isn’t the slightest doubt about the Muslim Brotherhood’s agenda today, because it was published for all the world to see in 2007. The model is shamelessly copied from Iran: a council of “senior religious scholars” must be established, with power to overrule any government decision not in accord with Muslim Sharia law. Since Sharia purports to govern every aspect of human existence, the God experts reign supreme; Qutb himself taught that Sharia is so complete as a legal and moral system that no further legislation is possible. In coming days, when you hear solemn assurances that the Brotherhood now condones democracy, remember that it means Iranian-style democracy – a system in which voters can choose whichever pre-approved Tweedledum or Tweedledee candidate the God experts have permitted to appear on the ballot.
The Brotherhood’s PR wing is now engaged in a full-blown “charm offensive,” convincing a number of woolly-headed pundits that we should welcome these tame and pious elders into the Egyptian power structure. There is no danger, we are assured, because a majority of Egyptians oppose the radical Islamist agenda. Well, guess what: a majority of Russians opposed the Bolsheviks, a majority of Germans opposed the Nazis, and even more to the point a majority of Iranians in 1979 sought democracy and tolerance, not the repression they ultimately suffered. A ruthless minority can work its will most readily when its adversaries are as naïve as we are.
Maybe a zebra can change its stripes. Maybe if I go walking in the woods, I’ll find a giant diamond, and live happily ever after. But Daniel Kurtzer, President Clinton’s ambassador to Egypt, warns that “The Muslim Brotherhood since its founding in 1928 has had one single goal, and that is to transform Egypt into a Muslim state – and once that is achieved, to turn the Middle East into a pan-Arab Islamist state. … The Brotherhood has tactical flexibility, but let none of us be misled about their strategic goal, which has not changed one iota.”
Just last September, the current head of the Brotherhood preached 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.”
The Obama Administration lost no time after taking office in slashing funding for programs to promote democracy and civil society in Egypt. Consistent with that, Wikileaks cables show our ambassador to Egypt urging a relaxation of the human rights pressure on the Egyptian government. Obama himself then delivered a fawning, pro-Islam speech in Cairo where he misquoted the Koran, painted an absurdly rosy picture of the Muslim record, and pointedly ignored the stunning progress that Nasser’s secularism had brought to Egypt. One of the figures he slighted was Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei, who jokingly refers to himself as a “secular pope,” and who has the impeccable credential of having been proven right when he stood up to the Bush administration on whether Iraq really had weapons of mass destruction. Instead, Obama’s diplomats are busily outsmarting themselves, conniving to bring the nose of the Brotherhood camel into the tent, as though it were some kind of Chicago political club rather than a mortal enemy of the Enlightenment way of life.
In the streets of Cairo, Brotherhood demonstrators disdainfully call people like ElBaradei “donkeys of the revolution,” to be used and then pushed away, exactly as the Ayatollah Khomeini used and then pushed away the true democrat Abulhassan Banisadr in 1979.
Wouldn’t it be refreshing if, just once, we stand up and say what we believe? Couldn’t we just say that we detest the Muslim Brotherhood and everything it represents, and if Egypt wants to head that way it will do so without our money or our friendship? Some Egyptians wouldn’t appreciate hearing that, but they don’t like us anyway. At least we’d uphold our self-respect. If we can’t respect ourselves, why do we think anyone else would?
1. More Americans think churches should stay out of politics . . . and that Obama’s a Muslim
2. Pew Forum: The exploding global Muslim population
3. Muslim Cleric: Ft. Hood Attacks Consistent with Islam
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