Extremist amnesia

Groupthink that portrays “dangerous” as “innocuous” has led to censorship by omission. The Muslim Brotherhood, according to the conventional wisdom on the left, is now a responsible Egyptian political organization that will compete in the first free elections Egypt has known since the late 1940s.

Until now, the Brotherhood has done well under a different name and still managed to pull 20 percent in elections rigged to favor the now-deposed President Hosni Mubarak’s party. Now the Brotherhood plans to enter candidates under its own name, and straw polls indicate it may muster up to 40 percent.

Not to worry, says the Brotherhood’s liberal admirers in the United States and other Western countries. Brotherhood members have reformed; they are no longer religious extremists. The fact that they burned down or trashed about 300 buildings in Cairo on Jan. 26, 1952, was then, and this is now.

Like Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Brotherhood has camouflaged its strategic objectives in charitable social work, sports clubs and prayer meetings. Its messages also are tailored to disarm its critics. The Brotherhood’s disinformation arsenal contains the political equivalent of dental laughing gas, designed to elicit lightheadedness as well as warm and fuzzy feelings.

Conveniently overlooked in what was described as the Brotherhood’s Western-style demand for freedom are these inconvenient facts:

c Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, 84, the Brotherhood’s chief theoretician, banned in the United States and Britain, advocate of violence against Israel as well as U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned to Egypt after a 50-year absence to address a million-plus crowd in Cairo’s Liberation Square. State TV said it was 2 million. He also reaches tens of millions worldwide on Al Jazeera, the Doha, Qatar-based Arab network.

c The Brotherhood’s motto: “Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Koran is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.”

c Muhammad Badie, the Brotherhood’s supreme guide, said upon his elevation in September that the Brotherhood’s objectives could only be attained “by raising a jihadi generation that pursues death just as the enemies pursue life.”

c In 1989, the Brotherhood’s Islamic Action Front won 23 out of 80 seats in Jordan’s parliament. King Hussein tried to check their influence by changing election laws. But in 1993, they became the largest group in parliament – and strongly opposed the Jordanian-Israeli Peace Treaty in 1994.

c Despite a rigged vote that gave Mr. Mubarak’s followers almost 80 percent of the seats in the parliament that was dissolved by the new supreme military authority in mid-February, the Brotherhood still garnered 20 percent.

c The Brotherhood’s official website says jihad is Islam’s most important tool in a gradual takeover, beginning with the Muslim nations, moving on to restoring the caliphate over three continents for a conquest of the West, with a global Islamic state as the ultimate objective.

c For the immediate future, the Brotherhood remains closely linked to Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the Brotherhood’s second in command, Rashad al-Bayumi, said in a recent interview that the Brotherhood would join a transitional Egyptian government with one objective: Canceling the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.

c The Brotherhood’s platform says government rule in Egypt “must be republican, parliamentary, constitutional and democratic in accordance with Islamic Shariah law that ensures liberty for all.”

c The Brotherhood’s supreme guide – it has more than one – Muhammad Mahdi Akef said the Brotherhood opposes American democracy because “it is corrupt, serves the American agenda and wants to destroy the Islamic nation, its faith and tradition.”

c Mr. Akef says the United States spends billions of dollars “and endlessly plots to change the Muslim way of life [by waging] war on Muslim leaders, the traditions of its faith and its ideas. They even wage war against female circumcision, a practice current in 36 countries, which has been prevalent since the time of the Pharaohs.”

c Jihad has a global strategy beyond self-defense: Attack every “infidel rule” to widen the global caliphate until all mankind lives under the Islamic flag.

For Egypt’s new government, whatever it turns out to be, accommodation with the Brotherhood is bound to be the line of least resistance. Whether 1 million or 2 million were on Cairo’s Tahrir Square to listen to the Brotherhood’s Sheik al-Qaradawi in his first public appearance in Egypt in 50 years is irrelevant. Countless millions the world over listen to his politico-religious sermons.

More important, the hero of Egypt’s latest revolution, Wael Ghonim, the Doha-based head of Google marketing in the Middle East, whose Tweets and Facebook entries were credited with laying the groundwork for the popular uprising, was barred from the stage in Tahrir Square. Sheik al-Qara-dawi’s bodyguards elbowed the cyber-activist to the exit ladder.

“The Yuppie revolution in Egypt is over, the Islamist Revolution has begun,” captured the essence of Egypt’s 18-day upheaval. It was what Cornell Law School’s William A. Jacobson’s blog called a “Legal Insurrection.”

The Brotherhood’s greatest asset: gullible Westerners – on both sides of the Atlantic.

It is the same syndrome that enabled the same segment of Western opinion to applaud Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s moderation as he gave daily press conferences near Paris in 1978 while waiting for his religious revolutionaries and their yuppie helpers to overthrow the shah.

For those with a little more memory, there also is the case of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge, described for years as a group of moderate agrarian reformers. No sooner were they in power than they established the “killing fields.” By their own reckoning, they slaughtered 2 million of their own people.

By Arnaud de Borchgrave, editor-at-large of The Washington Times and United Press International.

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