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Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Spare us the hogwash

Will Donald Trump’s administration resort to purging the American system of those connected to the Muslim Brotherhood, asks an article in Bloomberg

Azza Radwan Sedky , Wednesday 11 Jan 2017
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Prefacing this article with a couple of points of clarification is essential. This article has very little to do with President-elect Donald Trump, his choice of advisers, and his intentions. Also, in no way am I siding with Trump’s notions on Islam, and his sweeping statements regarding banning Muslims from entering the US. But this article has everything to do with the disputable argument in Bloomberg’s, “Trump’s coming witch hunt against political Islam.”

The headline sets off the tone of Bloomberg’s article, and as the Egyptian saying goes, “The start of the poem is pagan,” meaning that the rest will be much of the same: hogwash.

The phrase “witch hunt” implies Trump will be hounding an innocent group, political Islamists, and as the article goes on, the Muslim Brotherhood in particular.

The article underscores Trump’s key advisers, those who lean towards considering the Muslim Brotherhood as a liability and who will aim to purge the American system and government of those connected to the Muslim Brotherhood.

This while the writer grants both President Bush and President Obama checkmarks for distinguishing between “Muslims who commit violence in the name of Islam and Muslims who seek to impose Islamic rule on secular societies through elections and free debate.”

Elaborating on this theory, the writer confirms Bush’s acceptance of political Islam, for while in Iraq he “embraced Sunni and Shia leaders from Islamist parties,” which, if nothing else, is a condescending and racist remark. Since when did a peck on someone’s cheek affirm solidarity?

As for President Obama, he went further. “His government eliminated terms like jihad and radical Islam from official FBI and Homeland Security documents.” I agree that the term “radical Islam” is erroneous, but that doesn’t mean that radical Islamists don’t exist. As for the term “jihad,” it is the term that jihadists, themselves, favour and prefer.

Obviously, a wide distinction exists between the two groups — those who commit violence in the name of Islam and those who seek to impose Islamic rule. Still, the latter is never content to impose Islamic rule by resorting to elections and free debate only.

Ask Egyptians; they will tell you. Once the Muslim Brotherhood came to power, its members assumed that they owned the land. They immediately fought tooth and nail to change the essence of Egyptian society.

In one year, the Muslim Brotherhood not only gained political dominance but also aimed at molding a new course for Egypt, altering education and curricula, the constitution, ideology, and governance to their liking.

At Muslim Brotherhood and non-Muslim Brotherhood schools, bearded teachers and veiled students adorned textbook covers. The minister of education deleted the photo of a women’s rights pioneer from a textbook because she wasn’t wearing the hijab. New and altered textbooks promoted prominent Islamists from Hamas and other militant groups.

Schools were accused of ordering students to sing “Jihadi, jihadi,” instead of “Biladi, biladi,” the opening words of the Egyptian national anthem. Soon, all schools would have focused on jihad and the caliphate to come.

A mediocre constitution favoured Islamists and denied Copts and other sects their rights. Culture was stumped by a minister who lacked knowledge and went after the knowledgeable. A member of an Islamist group that assassinated 58 tourists and four Egyptians in the 1990s was chosen to oversee the attacked governorate, Luxor, as governor.

As for Tarek El-Zomor, implicated in the assassination of President Sadat and imprisoned in 1984 until 2011, well, he was invited to attend a celebration marking Sadat’s victory during the October 6th war.

Back to Bloomberg’s article, and midway through it the author tells us that indeed there is a “kernel of truth” as far as the Muslim Brotherhood goes, that evidence has been found linking the Council on American Relations (CAIR) with Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, and that the “FBI produced evidence that the Muslim Brotherhood instructed followers to advance the goal of overturning secular societies in the West to usher in Islamic rule.”  

And a “kernel of truth” is all what we need to understand the mentality of the Muslim Brotherhood. Maybe the writer should become more aware of what the ex-leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Akkef, said. “To hell with Egypt if it is a secular one” and “I’d rather have a Malaysian Muslim than an Egyptian Christian rule Egypt.” Bear witness, dear writer, the Muslim Brotherhood, if able, would impose radical Islamic rule on secular societies with or without elections and free debate.

The article ends by saying that though it is still early in Trump’s administration, there are signs that a “purge” will be coming: Ted Cruz’s demand to Congress to review the Muslim Brotherhood designation as a foreign terrorist organisation for one. The writer is also disappointed that cooperation with Turkey may flounder since the Turkish ruling party is inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood. Even more so, the writer is concerned that the future of CAIR may be at stake.

Doesn’t the writer see any lopsidedness in pointing the above “challenges” to the Muslim Brotherhood when the US watched the Muslim Brotherhood wreak havoc in Egypt and didn’t lift a finger? Doesn’t the writer realise that the moment President Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood was deposed, violence as Egypt had never seen before erupted? Doesn’t the writer see any anomalies in accepting the Muslim Brotherhood, the group that Egypt deemed a terrorist group, while ignoring Egypt and its needs altogether?  Well, Egyptians do.

While I try to convince the writer not to sympathise with radical Islam, I agree with him on one point. My article is in no way a green light to President-elect Trump to revive Senator McCarthy’s drive against communism, this time against Muslims. However, a clearer picture of what the writer considers “political Islam,” aka the Muslim Brotherhood, was in order.

The writer is an academic, political analyst, and author of Cairo Rewind: the First Two Years of Egypt's Revolution, 2011-2013.

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