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Fooling Kristof

Posted By Robert Spencer On December 16, 2011 @ 12:27 am In Daily Mailer,FrontPage | 31 Comments

Ace New York Times pundit Nicholas Kristof recently had dinner in the Cairo home of some Muslim Brotherhood members, and he had a wonderful time. And from this experience, there is something he wants you and the world to know: Muslim Brotherhood rule in Egypt, and the Brotherhood in general, is nothing to be concerned about.

Kristof’s touchingly naïve and ignorant column raises the question once again of how such an uninformed and easily misled analyst could enjoy so much respect among the nation’s intellectual elites – and the answer, as with all such mediocrities, is that they retail politically correct opinions, and so rise to the top regardless of the poor quality of their work. In this case, Kristof is pushing the theme that the Muslim Brotherhood is “moderate” – an idea in fashion today in the mainstream media, however ridiculous it may be.

Kristof marvels that his hostess, a 24-year-old woman named Sondos Asem, “speaks perfect English, is writing a master’s thesis on social media, and helps run the Brotherhood’s English-language Twitter feed, @Ikhwanweb.” Kristof warns that “the Brotherhood is far more complex than the caricature that scares many Americans” – but does he really think that because the Brotherhood employs a young woman who speaks perfect English and works in social media that somehow they don’t intend to impose the oppressive aspects of Sharia upon Egypt?

Sondos Asem specifically denies that the Brotherhood will do so regarding Sharia’s oppression of women: “It’s a big misconception that the Muslim Brotherhood marginalizes women. Fifty percent of the Brotherhood are women.” She dismisses the suggestion that the Brotherhood might bring Sharia laws regarding women to Egypt, making it resemble Saudi Arabia, Iran or Afghanistan. Egypt, she says, is “religiously very moderate,” and hence much more likely to follow Turkey’s model.

Unfortunately for Asem, and Kristof, Turkey is not presently a Sharia state, although Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is doing all he can to change that. Its religious moderation is not the product of a different model of Sharia from that implemented in Saudi Arabia and Iran, but from no Sharia at all. If Egypt adopts Sharia, as the Muslim Brotherhood wishes it to do, the only Sharia model available to it are those of Saudi Arabia and Iran, which implement classic provisions of Islamic law’s treatment of women that have been in place for centuries and are not disputed in any significant way by any sect or school of Islamic law.

Asem also assured Kristof that the Brotherhood would not change the status of the Camp David accords with Israel and maintain friendly relations with the U.S. Here again, Kristof swallowed it all, in defiance of the available evidence. Mahmoud Hussein, the Brotherhood’s secretary-general, recently said that the peace treaty with Israel would have to be reexamined: “A long time has passed since the Camp David accord was signed, and like the other agreements it needs to be reviewed, and this is in the hands of the parliament.” And when Eric Trager of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy visited the headquarters of newly elected Muslim Brotherhood MP Saber Abouel Fotouh, he found on the wall a banner celebrating a protest the Brotherhood had sponsored “outside the local ‘Zionist consulate,’ complete with an image of a burning Israeli flag.”

Trager quotes Saad al-Husseini, whom he describes as a member of the Brotherhood’s Guidance Office: “Most political streams in Egypt—liberals, socialists, nationalists, and Islamists – demand that sharia be the main source of legislation.” These will include, according to Trager, “banning alcohol and calling for modesty in women’s dress” – that is, mandating that women cover all but their faces and hands, in accord with Muhammad’s command. This would also end Egypt’s tourist industry, which relies to a great degree upon the attractions of Egyptian beaches, where infidel tourists will soon no longer be free to lounge around in Western swimwear while enjoying their alcoholic beverage of choice.

While he was in Cairo, Nicholas Kristof would have done well to have consulted with Fr. Rafik Greiche of the Egyptian Catholic Church, who knows all about the soothing words that Brotherhood spokesmen have been retailing to eager-to-be-misled Western journalists. “The Muslim Brotherhood is not credible,” Greiche said flatly. “We want facts, not words. The Muslim Brotherhood is always issuing statements. In the beginning, they were very harsh against non-Muslims. If a pro-democracy or Christian leader protested, they would quickly change their tune to avoid being labelled extremist.”

Greiche also noted that “in the past few days, one of the most important spiritual leaders (Mourshed) of the Muslim Brotherhood said that anyone who is opposed to Sharia should be expelled from the country, a clear reference to Christians. Yesterday, Mohammed Badie said instead that all citizens should be equal.”

Sondos Asem apparently did not see fit to explain, or even bring up, these contradictions during her dinner with Nicholas Kristof.

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