How the administration is spreading the deceitful message of Egyptian Islamists.
To convince the world that sharia-based laws protect personal freedoms and human rights for all, Islamists engage in the time-honored Muslim tradition of lying about their own beliefs to conceal their true nature. This form of deception is known as "taqiyya." Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood is engaging in taqiyya as it prepares to lead Egypt's newly elected parliament and to assure Egyptian citizens and the world at large that they are peace-loving advocates of universal human rights. The Obama administration is buying this taqiyya hook, line and sinker -- and spreading it.
Just last week, for example, U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson met with the Muslim Brotherhood's Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie, congratulating the group for the victory of their political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), in the elections for a new parliament. She listened attentively as Badie assured her that sharia law “ensures personal freedoms for all.” When Badie told her the United States had to prove to Muslims that it has seen the error of its ways in past dealings with the Muslim world, Patterson followed the lead of President Obama. She apologized for what she said were past American mistakes and promised that the U.S. will “learn from them to avoid their recurrence in the future.”
Back in Washington, D.C., State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a January 5th press briefing that the United States trusts the Muslim Brotherhood party's good intentions. Choosing to downplay an interview by a senior Muslim Brotherhood leader with Al Hayat, in which he said that the treaty with Israel is not binding, Nuland responded:
We’ve seen this press report. I would say that it is one member of the Muslim Brotherhood. We have had other assurances from the party with regard to their commitment not only to universal human rights, but to the international obligations that the Government of Egypt has undertaken.
The Muslim Brotherhood and its Obama administration partners in taqiyya ask us to accept at face value the Brotherhood's current face of moderation. We are supposed to believe that it has eschewed violence, wants to maintain peaceful relations with Israel and is dedicated to fostering an open pluralistic democracy in Egypt in which all of its citizens are treated equally.
The facts unfortunately do not support this rosy picture. For example, the "one member of the Muslim Brotherhood" whose hostile remarks earlier this month against Israel were dismissed as irrelevant by the State Department spokeswoman was the Brotherhood's deputy leader, Dr. Rashad Bayoumi. He said in his interview that his organization will not recognize Israel “under any circumstance.” Bayoumi added that “we do not recognize Israel at all. [Israel is] an occupying criminal enemy.”
Dr. Bayoumi's interview took place just a few weeks after Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie welcomed Hamas's Gaza leader, Ismail Haniyeh, at the Brotherhood's Cairo headquarters. Haniyeh said during his visit that "Our presence with the Brotherhood threatens the Israeli entity." For his part, Badie had nothing but praise for Hamas, which has not renounced violence and was after all the offspring of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Dr. Mahmoud Saad al-Katatni, the Director of the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Freedom and Justice Party until he resigned on January 21, 2012 to serve as the speaker of the new Egyptian parliament, said last month that the parliament is expected to reevaluate the Camp David peace treaty that Egyptian President Anwar Sadat signed with Israel in 1979:
A long time has passed since the Camp David accord was signed and like the other agreements it needs reevaluation and this is in the hands of the Parliament[.]
Al-Katatni denied a report in an Israeli newspaper that had claimed the Muslim Brotherhood has reached understandings with the United States and Israel regarding the importance of safeguarding the peace treaty with Israel:
The report in the newspaper is completely unfounded. There have been no contacts or understandings with the American or Israeli side about the peace treaty that President Anwar Sadat signed in 1979.
Is the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated leader's equivocation on a 32-year-old treaty, which has maintained peace between Egypt and Israel, what the State Department's spokeswoman had in mind when she expressed confidence in the Muslim Brotherhood's "commitment... to the international obligations that the Government of Egypt has undertaken"?
And what do we make of the report from the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), which closely monitors the Arab media, about the recent virulent anti-Semitic writings appearing on the Muslim Brotherhood's website, Ikhwanonline.com? The report stated:
The website of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in Egypt, Ikhwanonline.com, contains articles with antisemitic motifs, including Holocaust denial and descriptions of the 'Jewish character' as covetous, exploitative, and a source of evil in human society. While articles of this tenor have been posted on the site in the past, their posting has recently taken on greater importance in light of the group's increasing strength following the ouster of the Mubarak regime, as reflected by the results of the recent parliamentary elections.
In addition to antisemitic content, articles on the site also include praise for jihad and martyrdom, and condemnation of negotiation as a means of regaining Islamic lands. Among these are articles calling to kill Zionists and praising the September 9, 2011 attack on the Israeli Embassy in Cairo – which one article called a landmark of the Egyptian revolution.
Saying one thing to guarantee Obama administration support for the Muslim Brotherhood and saying another on the Muslim Brotherhood's own website is vintage Islamist taqiyya.
How about universal human rights such as freedom of religion and expression? Again, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Obama administration want us to forget about the Muslim Brotherhood's past positions on denying certain rights to women and religious minorities. They expect everyone to fall in line and embrace the "moderate" leadership of today, exemplified by the Muslim Brotherhood's Supreme Guide, Mohammed Badie, and the former director of the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Freedom and Justice Party, who was just chosen as the speaker of the parliament, Mahmoud Saad al-Katatni.
Both Badie and al-Katatni espouse sharia law as the basis for governing Egypt, but maintain that sharia law, inclusive democracy and universal human rights are all compatible with each other. To this end, as noted above, Badie claims that sharia law “ensures personal freedoms for all.” Al-Katatni said in an interview with al-Jazeera that the Freedom and Justice Party "is not a religious party but it's a civil party... that seeks a modern and democratic state but with a 'Islamic reference'." The Muslim Brotherhood's website describes al-Katatni as "renowned for his moderate stances."
If we look beneath the rhetorical facade, we find that both these supposed moderates have simply redefined their notion of "democracy" and "human rights" to fit into the sharia pigeonhole. Badie, for example, reportedly told a rally last year that "it is not permissible for democracy to allow what is forbidden (haram) or forbid what is allowed (halal) even if the entire nation agreed to it." In addition to condemning gay marriage, he included in the "forbidden" category the right of a Muslim woman to marry a Christian man:
[W]e will not allow under the pretext of national unity that a Muslim woman would get married to a Christian man which violates the Islamic law.
Al-Katatni's idea of a civil, democratic state is simply one that is not run by the military. He explained in his interview with al-Jazeera that "we all know that the country should be governed by an elected civil body and the army should go back to their barracks." He said in the interview that the principles guiding the Freedom and Justice Party are "the principles of the Islamic Sharia law and they are included in the Egyptian Constitution."
Al-Katatni demonstrated last November his view of the limitations imposed on free expression under the "the principles of the Islamic Sharia." Not content with confining himself to Egyptian law, al-Katatni denounced the French magazine Charlie Hebdo for publishing cartoons lampooning the Prophet Mohamed. He called the magazine's exercise of free expression in the secular state of France a heinous crime and demanded that the French government take all legal and professional penal actions against the publication.
Meanwhile, back in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood joined the ultraconservative Salafists in backing a lawsuit against a wealthy Coptic Christian, Naguib Sawiris, who has publicly raised concerns about a government dominated by Islamists. He has been charged with committing “blasphemy and insulting Islam” for posting a cartoon of a bearded Mickey Mouse and a veiled Minnie Mouse on Twitter.
“Sawiris is one of the biggest supporters of the Egyptian liberal parties,” Wagih Yacoub, a Coptic human rights activist, said. “What the Islamists are trying to do is break him down. They are trying to scare him...The [Muslim] Brotherhood is among those behind the war on Sawiris.”
Aidan Clay, regional manager for the Middle East of the International Christian Concern, a non-governmental organization that campaigns on behalf of persecuted Christians world-wide, said that the Muslim Brotherhood's support for the lawsuit against Sawiris "is one more example that any attempt made by the Brotherhood to appear moderate is merely a façade."
As part of that facade, al-Katatni has promised that the rights of Coptic Christians will be respected in the new "democratic" Egypt and pointed to Coptic Christian membership in the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party as proof of its inclusiveness. Yet out of nearly 9,000 party members, as of May 2011, there were only 93 Coptic Christians - slightly over 1%. Christians today make up approximately 10% of Egypt's population.
True, the Freedom and Justice Party reached out to a Coptic Christian, Rafiq Habib, to serve as the party's vice president. But the Muslim Brotherhood could not have found a better front man for its agenda.
Habib, who has had a long-term relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood, believes that the state must be governed by religion to which man-made laws are subservient. He opposes the secular model of a democratic state for Egypt and has said that Christians must learn to live under Islamic rule:
The Egyptian society will continue to be an Islamic society and the Christians must return to their conservative identity and join it in one identity as happened before. If we go back 50 years, the whole society looked conservative and very Islamic, though the Christians were a little cautious of the Islamic identity. But if we go more than 100 years back, we find that Christians were unified with the Islamic society under Islamic Sharia and under the Islamic state and there was no problem... Sharia as a basis can reshape the nation-state to Islamic state in 2 or 3 years if applied.
This is a reformulation of classic dhimmitude - non-Muslims living submissively under sharia law and giving deference to their Muslim neighbors.
In its detailed analysis of the dichotomy between the Muslim Brotherhood's words and actions, the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research concluded:
The ambiguous and loophole-ridden rhetoric of the Brotherhood casts serious doubts on the belief that it could serve as a coalescing force for moderation and liberal reform.
The Obama administration eased the Muslim Brotherhood's path to power by actively engaging with it as if it were something that it clearly is not - a moderate democratic organization that believes in equal rights for all of its citizens and is committed to maintaining a long-standing peaceful co-existence with Israel.
The Obama administration was not simply reacting to events within Egypt and choosing the least undesirable alternative to support. It helped shape those events, starting with its insistence that members of the Muslim Brotherhood attend Obama's speech to the Muslim world in June 2009.
The Egyptian people have elected the members of their new parliament and decided in overwhelming numbers that it should be dominated by Islamists. That is their choice. But we can respect their right to make their own choice in a free and fair election without sugar coating the implications of that choice for peace and human rights. The Obama administration has decided instead to become an active partner in the Muslim Brotherhood's taqiyya.
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To get the whole story on why the Obama administration empowers Islamists, read Jamie Glazov’s book, United in Hate: The Left’s Romance with Tyranny and Terror.