Think Again: The Muslim Brotherhood

MB protestorsBY ERIC TRAGER:

How did so many Western analysts get Egypt’s Islamist movement so wrong?

“They’re democrats.”

Don’t kid yourself. Long before the Jan. 25 revolution that ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, many academics and policymakers argued that his main adversary — the Muslim Brotherhood — had made its peace with democracy. This was based on the assumption that, since the Muslim Brotherhood participated in virtually every election under Mubarak, it was committed to the rule of the people as a matter of principle.

It was also based on what typically sympathetic Western researchers heard from Muslim Brotherhood leaders, and what I heard as well. “Democracy is shura,” Brotherhood Deputy Supreme Guide Khairat al-Shater told me during a March 2011 interview, referring to the Islamic jurisprudential tool of “consultation.” The implication was that the Brotherhood accepted a political system that encouraged open debate.

Yet since the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, Mohamed Morsy, was elected president in June, the exact opposite has been true. The Brotherhood’s only real “consultation” has been with the Egyptian military, which the Brotherhood persuaded to leave power by ceding substantial autonomy to it under the new constitution. Among other undemocratic provisions, this backroom deal yielded constitutional protection for the military’s separate court system, under which civilians can be prosecuted for the vague crime of “damaging the armed forces.”

Meanwhile, the Brotherhood has embraced many of the Mubarak regime’s autocratic excesses: Editors who are critical of the Brotherhood have lost their jobs, and more journalists have been prosecuted for insulting the president during Morsy’s six months in office than during Mubarak’s 30-year reign. And much as Mubarak’s ruling party once did, the Brotherhood is using its newfound access to state resources as a political tool: It reportedly received below-market food commodities from the Ministry of Supply and Social Affairs, which it is redistributing to drum up votes in the forthcoming parliamentary elections.

The Brotherhood’s most blatantly undemocratic act, however, was Morsy’s Nov. 22 “constitutional declaration,” through which he placed his presidential edicts above judicial scrutiny and asserted the far-reaching power to “take the necessary actions and measures to protect the country and the goals of the revolution.” When this power grab catalyzed mass protests, Morsy responded by ramming a new constitution through the Islamist-dominated Constituent Assembly, and the Brotherhood later mobilized its cadres to attack the anti-Morsy protesters, and subsequently extract confessions from their captured fellow citizens. So much for promises of “consultation.”

As the Brotherhood’s first year in power has demonstrated, elections do not, by themselves, yield a democracy. Democratic values of inclusion are also vital. And the Muslim Brotherhood — which has deployed violence against protesters, prosecuted its critics, and leveraged state resources for its own political gain — clearly lacks these values.

Read the rest of this excellent piece at Foreign Policy

Huffington Post, MSM Facilitate Destruction of Egypt’s Pyramids

By Raymond Ibrahim

Because my article “Calls to Destroy Egypt’s Great Pyramids Begin” went viral on the Internet—read nearly 400,000 times on FrontPage Magazine alone where it first appeared—as expected, the infamous “hoax” charge has been made to lull the West back to sleep.

According to Daily News Egypt’s “Another hoax: cleric calls on President Morsy to destroy Giza Pyramids,” the calls from the Bahraini cleric I cited “urging President Mohamed Morsy to destroy the Giza Pyramids were issued from a parody Twitter account online, the Daily News Egypt has learned.”

That’s all—that’s the “proof” that this story is a “hoax”: Daily News Egypt (DNE) “has learned” that someone was “impersonating” the Bahraini cleric, whom I quoted.  Unlike my article, DNE offers no evidence, no links, no proof to back its story:  “Just believe us—you’ll feel better,” seems to be the message.

Some questions:  If, as DNE suggests, this was a hoax to scare people over the rising influence of Egypt’s Islamists, why did the hoax perpetrators choose a cleric from Bahrain, a small, foreign nation—why not parody an Egyptian cleric, which obviously would’ve made for a much more effective “hoax”?

More importantly, why does DNE not address the other sources I had cited—including Egypt’s very own Salafi party, which is on record calling for the elimination of Egypt’s pyramids? Even Elaph, “one of the most influential websites in the Arab world,” documents that both the Bahraini cleric and Egypt’s Salafis are calling for the Pyramids’ destruction.

Needless to say, DNE’s hoax charge was quickly disseminated by others, who added their own “logic.”  For example, after quoting DNE as evidence, one Kate Durham, writing in Egypt Today focuses on portraying me as having an “agenda” (which, of course, I do: safeguarding the Pyramids).

Likewise, after quoting the DNE report, RT’s“Holy hoax: Radical Islamists call on Egypt to destroy pyramids” offered a revisionist history that truly resembles a “hoax,” arguing that “demolishing the pyramids was prohibited during the 7th century—so the structures remained untouched.”

Really?  This almost suggests that the Arabian marauders, who invaded Egypt in the 7th century, pillaging and destroying, were “respectful” of the “cultural significance” of the Pyramids—perhaps designating them as “tourist attractions”? What about 8th century Caliph Ma’mun, who—as this comprehensive English-language fatwa dedicated to explaining the Islamic obligation of destroying pagan monuments, including the Pyramids, puts it—“wanted to destroy the Pyramids in Egypt and he gathered workers but he could not do it”?

What about 12th century Bin Yusif, Saladin’s son and ruler of Egypt?  He attempted to destroy the Pyramids, and had an army of laborers work day and night to dismantle Menkaure’s Pyramid, only to quit after eight months, realizing the futility of the task, though his vandals did manage to leave a large vertical gash in the Pyramid’s north face (see here).  What about Egypt’s Mamlukes who, with the advent of gun powder, used the “pagan” Sphinx for target practice, effacing its nose?

After citing the DNE report, Huffington Post’s Llewelyn Morgan offers his assurances: “Let’s be crystal-clear about this right here. The answer to the question in my title [“Are the Pyramids Next?”] is a mile-high, neon ‘NO’. The pyramids of Giza are under no threat whatsoever, and neither is any of the rest of Egypt’s glorious archaeological record.”

He then portrays me as “scaremongering” and “offer[ing] a deeply misleading account of what has been happening in Timbuktu,” because I had written, “Currently, in what the International Criminal Court is describing as a possible ‘war crime,’ Islamic fanatics are destroying the ancient heritage of the city of Timbuktu in Mali—all to Islam’s triumphant war cry, ‘Allahu Akbar!’”  Morgan explains:

To read that that you’d think that the only Muslims involved in events at Timbuktu were the ones doing the vandalism.  But of course it was Islamic buildings that they were attacking. Ansar al-Din, the al-Qaeda-affiliated zealots in northern Mali, consider the traditional Sufi practices of Timbuktu to be heretical.

This is strange logic, indeed.  Because the Salafis of Mali consider Sufi buildings insufficiently Islamic—as all Salafis, Wahhabis, and “radicals” do—according to Morgan, that is proof positive that the Pyramids, which are purely pagan, are “under no threat whatsoever” from Egypt’s Salafis.

If Morgan’s point is that, by destroying Sufi Muslim shrines, the “al-Qaeda-affiliated zealots” are not practicing “true Islam”—that’s still neither here nor there.  All Salafis—whether in Mali or in Egypt, whether “al-Qaeda affiliated” or not—reject Sufism as a heresy and pagan Pyramids as worse; and in Egypt, the Salafis are now out of the prisons and sitting in Parliament.

All of these apologists are unaware that the Koran portrays pre-Islamic Egypt’s Pharaoh as the quintessential infidel, with the result that the Pyramids, the handiwork of Pharaoh, have always been seen by the pious as an affront to the total victory of Islam in Egypt—hence why any number of Muslim leaders through the centuries tried to lay low those defiant symbols of Egypt’s pre-Islamic past; hence why such calls are again become vocal.

Indeed, here’s the latest bit of evidence: just published in El-Balad, on July 17, “Egypt’s Justice and Development for Human Rights warned against the ongoing incitements from a large number of men of the Islamic religion to destroy the Pyramids and other Pharaonic antiquities, deeming them pagan symbols of pre-Islamic Egypt…. these calls have greatly increased after the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Dr. Muhammad Morsi.”

These calls are not a joke—nor a “hoax”: the same mentality that sought to destroy the Pyramids in the past, is the same mentality that is gaining mastery over Egypt in the present—with the exception that, if destroying the Pyramids was an impossible task then, it is realizable now, a wonderful feather in the turban of any aspiring “champion of Islam”—a feat that none of the greatest caliphs and sultans could accomplish, try as they might.

Read more at Front Page

The Muslim Brotherhood’s Useful Idiots

By Caroline Glick:

You have to hand it to the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood. They  know how to play power politics. They know how to acquire power. And  they know how to use power.
Last Friday, the  day before voters by most accounts elected the Brotherhood’s candidate  Mohamed Morsy to serve as Egypt’s next president, The Wall Street Journal published  a riveting account by Charles Levinson and Matt Bradley of how the  Brotherhood outmaneuvered the secular revolutionaries to take control of  the country’s political space.
The Brotherhood  kept a very low profile in the mass demonstrations in Tahrir Square in  January and February 2011 that led to the overthrow of then-president  Hosni Mubarak. The Brotherhood’s absence from Tahrir Square at that time  is what enabled Westerners to fall in love with the Egyptian  revolution.
Those demonstrations led to the  impression, widespread in the US, that Mubarak’s successors would be  secular Facebook democrats. The role that Google’s young Egyptian  executive Wael Gonim played in organizing the demonstrations was  reported expansively. His participation in the anti-regime protests – as  well as his brief incarceration – was seen as proof that the next  Egyptian regime would be indistinguishable from Generation X and Y  Americans and Europeans.
In their report,  Levinson and Bradley showed how the Brotherhood used the secularists to  overthrow the regime, and to provide them with a fig leaf of moderation  through March 2011, when the public voted on the sequencing of Egypt’s  post-Mubarak transformation from a military dictatorship into a populist  regime. The overwhelming majority of the public voted to first hold  parliamentary elections and to empower the newly elected parliament to  select members of the constitutional assembly that would write Egypt’s  new constitution.
As Egypt’s largest social  force, the Brotherhood knew it would win the majority of the seats in  the new parliament. The March 2011 vote ensured its control over writing  the new Egyptian constitution.
In July 2011,  the Brotherhood decided to celebrate its domination of the new Egypt  with a mass rally at Tahrir Square. Levinson and Bradley explained how  in the lead-up to that event Egypt’s secular revolutionaries were  completely outmaneuvered.
According to their  account, the Brotherhood decided to call the demonstration “Shari’a  Friday.” Failing to understand that the game was over, the secularists  tried to regain what they thought was the unity of the anti-regime ranks  from earlier in the year.
“Islamists and  revolutionary leaders spent three days negotiating principles they could  all support at the coming Friday demonstration in Cairo’s Tahrir  Square. They reached an agreement and the revolution seemed back on  track.”
One secularist leader, Rabab el-Mahdi, referred to the agreement as “The perfect moment. A huge achievement.”
But then came the double cross.
“Hours  before the demonstration, hard-line Salafi Islamists began adorning the  square with black-andwhite flags of jihad and banners calling for the  implementation of Islamic law. Ms. Mahdi made frantic calls to  Brotherhood leaders, who told her there was little they could do.”
Checkmate.
THE  DIFFERENCE between the Brotherhood and the secularists is a fundamental  one. The Brotherhood has always had a vision of the Egypt it wants to  create. It has always used all the tools at its disposal to advance the  goal of creating an Islamic state in Egypt.
For  their part, the secularists have no ideological unity and so share no  common vision of a future Egypt. They just oppose the repression of the  military. Opposing repression is not a political program. It is a  political act. It can destroy. It cannot rule.
So  when the question arose of how to transform the protests that caused  the US to abandon Mubarak and sealed the fate of his regime into a new  regime, the secularists had no answer. All they could do was keep  protesting military repression.
The Brotherhood  has been the most popular force in Egypt for decades. Its leaders  recognized that to take over the country, all they needed was the power  to participate in the elections and the authority to ensure that the  election results mattered – that is, control over writing the  constitution. And so, once the secularists fomented Mubarak’s overthrow,  their goal was to ensure their ability to participate in the elections  and to ensure that the parliament would control the constitution-writing  process.
To achieve these goals, they were  equally willing to collaborate with the secularists against the military  and with the military against the secularists. To achieve their goals  they were willing – as they did before Shari’a Friday last July – to  negotiate in bad faith.
While instructive, the  Journal’s article fell short because the reporters failed to recognize  that the Brotherhood outmaneuvered the military junta in the same way  that it outmaneuvered the secularists. The article starts with the  premise that the military’s decision to stage an effective coup d’etat  last week spelled an end to the Egyptian revolution and the country’s  reversion to the military dictatorship that has ruled the state since  the 1950s.
Levinson and Bradley claim,  “Following the rulings by the high court this week [which canceled the  results of the parliamentary elections and ensured continued military  control over the country regardless of the results of the presidential  elections], the Brotherhood’s strategy of cooperation with the military  seems failed.”
But actually, that is not the  case. By permitting the Brotherhood to participate in the elections for  parliament and the presidency, the military signed the death warrant of  its regime. The Brotherhood will rule Egypt. The only thing left to be  determined is whether its takeover will happen quickly or slowly.
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.