Since the clashes between the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt’s security forces broke out early last week, the Western liberal media, Obama administration, and other Western political leaders in Europe have depicted the Muslim Brotherhood as a democratic non-violent movement, and as a political party victimized in the latest clashes. Most of the far left and liberal analyses, as well as the Obama administration’s recent policy stances on Egypt, imply that the Muslim Brotherhood is a political party that advocates for social justice, democratic values, rule of law, and gender equality.
Firstly, it is both a crucial and intriguing point that similar Western-backed foreign policy mistakes and liberal analyses were made with regards to the Iranian Revolution of 1979. The Western liberal media, left-wing journalists and scholars, along with the Carter administration harshly criticized the ruling Shah, siding and sympathizing with the religious movement under Ayatollah Rooh Allah Khomeini’s leadership. Khomeini’s Islamic movement was seen as a democratic and spiritual party, which was victimized by the Shah’s governmental apparatuses. This perception considerably contributed to providing a platform for Khomeini’s anti-Semitic and fundamentalist Islamist movement to come to power in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Some analysts and scholars would defend the current political position of the Obama administration— along with Western liberal media and political leaders—by contending that the only 40-year-old history of Iran cannot be compared to the current situation in Egypt, claiming that it is logical that the Western liberal media, political leaders, and Obama administration may have forgotten lessons that Middle Eastern history has given us on Muslim society (and the socio-political and the socio-religious fabric that links it together).
Nevertheless, there is no need for a history lesson to analyze and discover the political truth about the Muslim Brotherhood movement, and its religious and political leaders’ agenda. Immediately after both Mohamed Morsi was elected as president and the Muslim Brotherhood won the majority of the Egyptian parliamentary seats, the organization pushed for an Islamist constitution that worked to centralize power to the Muslim Brotherhood, discriminate against minorities (particularly Christians), amplify gender inequality by the treatment of women as second-class citizens, diminish basic human rights, and lessen the considerable amount of political and economic power that other institutions possessed.
Additionally, Mohamed Morsi granted himself sweeping powers that primarily exempted his decrees from judicial review, until the ratification of a constitution. Even former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, who ruled the country for 30 years, did not possess that same type of unchecked power that Morsi was able to exert.
Millions of protesters marched in the streets against Mohamed Morsi, choosing to occupy the symbolic Tahrir Square for days so as to avoid having a ruling theocratic regime similar to that of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The clerics and Islamists of Iran slowly changed and revised the constitution after taking control through the revolution. The changes included an enforced dress code for women, a ban on drinking alcohol, increased gender segregation, and a ban on communication between opposite sexes, effectively using Sharia law as the legal guidelines of the nation. Just a mere few years after the 1979 Revolution, the Iranian people found themselves under a complete dictatorial, Islamist, and brutal regime.
After the policy changes by the Muslim Brotherhood and Mohamed Morsi, millions of Egyptian citizens, ranging from various social groups, demanded that Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces take serious action and remove the Muslim Brotherhood from power. According to Mustapha, a 22-year-old Egyptian engineering student, “this is what the majority of the Egyptian people want. It is not a military coup. These are demands of millions of people in the street.”
Other major grievances addressed by the Egyptian masses protesting in the street were attributed to political and economic woes stemming from the incapability of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood to produce an effective system of governance. Egyptian citizens demanded that the new government be able to adequately address the country’s economic catastrophe, high unemployment rate, fuel shortages, basic food supply issues, dwindling hard currency reserves, and increasing sectarian conflict between the Sunnis and Coptic Christians. In addition, the Egyptian people have repeatedly shown concern about the increasing influence of Morsi’s party and Muslim Brotherhood in different government institutions, as Mohamed Morsi had been criticized for appointing many of the Muslim Brotherhood’s members to high official positions.
Even further, the Muslim Brotherhood leaders have repeatedly, and particularly after losing power and popularity, threatened to endanger Israel’s security by allowing violence to spill over to Tel Aviv through instigating conflict in the Sinai. Recently, suspected Islamist militants ambushed and killed approximately 25 Egyptian police officers in the northern part of Sinai, proof of the plausibility of the threat. While Israel did not have any role in the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood has threatened to take revenge on what their leaders have referred to as the “ Zionist enemy” or the “Zionist and American collaborators,” essentially jeopardizing the peace between Egypt and Israel. The Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis group, an Islamist- and al-Qaeda-affiliated terror group based in Sinai, has claimed that their “heroes became martyrs during their jihadi duties against the Jews in a rocket attack on occupied lands.”
With the Obama administration and media pushing for the realease of Musim Brotherhood leaders as those who come from a peaceful, victimized, and democratic organization, the need to examine the ideological agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood becomes important. The revolutionary spirit of the Middle East once brought forth the Islamist party and theocracy that is Iran, and the ruling Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt has revealed a policy of fundamentalism that foreshadows a similar fate.
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