Muslim Brotherhood Must Define Its Position in Egypt

Thursday, 21 Apr 2011 09:36 AM

By Tawfik Hamid

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The Muslim Brotherhood and how to deal with it is a political dilemma for decision-makers in the U.S. Recently, Rep. Sue Myrick held her House Subcommittee on Terrorism, Human Intelligence, Analysis and Counterintelligence hearing to examine the history, beliefs and positions of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Muslim Brotherhood does not seem to be as violent as al-Qaida. However, it is hard to separate them from radical Islam.

The word they use for their slogan is “Wa-aidou” which is Arabic for “prepare.” This is taken from verse 8:60 of the Koran which states, Prepare (Wa-aidou) against them (the unbelievers) to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies of Allah and your enemies, and others besides, whom ye may not know, but whom Allah doth know.

Turns out that the use of “Wa-aidou” on the organization's flag indicates  much more than previously imagined.

Initial statements by some leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood after the Jan. 25 revolution in Egypt seemed promising. However, what the group says today might be very different from what they will do when they come to power.

Leaders of the Brotherhood defended religious freedom in their calls for reform. However, they are careful to not specifically state if a Muslim can convert to other another faith without being killed.

Recently, a leading member mentioned on one of the mainstream Egyptian TV channels that it is so easy to convert to Islam but it so hard to leave it (his facial expressions actually changed from a peaceful smile when he was talking about entering into Islam to expressing anger and disgust when he mentioned leaving it).

They speak about equality and yet they refuse to allow a Coptic or a woman to be the president. This was recently illustrated when several Islamists (including members of the Muslim Brotherhood) in the Upper Egypt province of Quena, started a civil strike protesting the new governor mainly because he is a Copt. "It is hard to witness such destructive discriminatory reactions, but this superiority complex rhetoric is often found in Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood. These groups cannot accept infidels or non-Muslims as a ruler over Muslims."

It is important to consider a historical perspective when discussing the Muslim Brotherhood:
  • The Muslim Brotherhood is a reality on the ground. Ignoring its existence does not change the reality.
  • There are growing internal conflicts and divisions within the Muslim Brotherhood. Some young members, female members, and some senior members have expressed views that contradict the traditional views of the organization. These include acceptance of Copts in leadership positions, more roles for women in the organization, and different views about some of fundamental Hudud (punishments) in Islam such as stoning for adulteries.
  • Due to ideology, the Muslim Brotherhood cannot be a sincere ally to the U.S. The Muslim Brotherhood will use U.S. support until it becomes more powerful.
  • Anti-Semitism views in Egypt are not limited to the Muslim Brotherhood. Secular groups in Egypt also share the same views.
The Muslim Brotherhood must lay out specifics. For example, it is important to know clearly its position on the killing of Israeli civilians by Palestinians. Will the Muslim Brotherhood respect the peace treaty with Israel (as they claimed)?

How will its new party, called Al-Hureia Wa Al-Adala or "Freedom and Equality," deal with freedom of Muslims to covert to other faiths? 

Will the Muslim Brotherhood maintain a good relationship with the secular elements of the military in Egypt? These military leaders are vital to protect Egypt from becoming another Taliban.

USAID or other humanitarian support groups must share the humanitarian efforts. Only when non-Islamic organizations contribute humanitarian work will a much-needed balance be created, allowing Egyptians to see that the Muslim Brotherhood is not the only provider of food and humanitarian work.

The Muslim Brotherhood MUST know clearly that if they support terrorist groups, such as Hamas, they will be confronted by the U.S. and they will also be considered and treated as a terrorist group.

The United States may soon be faced with the Muslim Brotherhood in control of the government of Egypt. It is vital to convey a powerful message to the Muslim Brotherhood that any support for terrorism will have grave consequences.

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