Lately I’ve been complaining about the media’s adoration of and obsession with the Muslim Brotherhood, today an anonymous reader left an article in my ask box that delves into that very topic.
What role do they play day-to-day?
Their formal title is “the Society of Muslim Brothers”; it is not “the Muslim Brotherhood political party” or anything like that. They claim they have got a broad reform agenda — social, religious, political, educational and so on. Over the past decade they made real strides in the political realm. In the 2005 elections, they got one-fifth of the seats in parliament. After that point, the regime came down on them hard — arrested some top leaders, tried to close down businesses that were associated with Brotherhood supporters, arrested an awful lot of the foot soldiers in the movement, and so on. The organization reacted by saying, “We have to take care of our organization first. We’re in this for the long haul, we think in terms of decades and generations, not in terms of political maneuvering for the next elections.”
So they basically scaled back a little bit of their political movement, and the architects of their political campaign found themselves less influential within the movement. What that means is, the movement right now is led by people who are very cautious and are really trying to preserve the organization. They are probably less skilled in politics like making alliances and speaking to the press. When the current strikes started, therefore, they really reacted in a little bit of a hesitating manner.
Continue reading and it only becomes increasingly embarrassing for the media,
Somebody said on Fox News today that the Muslim Brotherhood is the “godfather of al-Qaida.” Is there any relationship there, historically or in the present?
You shouldn’t be watching Fox to learn about the Muslim Brotherhood is the lesson from that. Here’s what I would say: The concerns about the Muslim Brotherhood’s relationship to political violence is not based on hallucinations — it is there. In the 1950s and ’60s the Brotherhood did develop this strain of thought that said, the existing government is not Islamic and therefore some kind of armed clash is inevitable. That strain has basically been repudiated by the Brotherhood. In fact, al-Qaida openly and consistently attacks the Brotherhood as having sold out.
What happened was that the sort of ideas that were gestating in the more radical streams of the Brotherhood, those ideas essentially spawned some more radical groups. And they began attacking Arab governments, like the Egyptian government and Algeria, in the 1970s and 1980s. The Brotherhood wanted nothing to do with them. But in a sense you could see there is a common genealogy there.
When those attempts failed in the 1980s and 1990s to overthrow existing Arab governments, the current leaders of al-Qaida — people like Ayman al-Zawahiri, who is Egyptian, and Osama bin Laden, who is Saudi — said: “We’re making a mistake. We’re attacking the Egyptian government, the Saudi government, and the Algerian government. But let’s go to the source, the government that is really backing them, and that’s the United States.”
But in its present form, the Brotherhood is not advocating political violence?
They specifically and repeatedly repudiate it. They have in the last couple days thrown in their lot with this uprising. But as far as they’re concerned, it’s a peaceful uprising, not a violent one.
If you weren’t already disappointed with our experts on television, you’re doing it wrong.
Read more about Why we shouldn’t fear the Muslim Brotherhood on Salon.com