The Reality of the Muslim Brotherhood
The Muslim Brotherhood was launched in 1928 to restore a caliphate, a global religious government aimed at fighting the "non-believers" (specifically, Christians, Hindus, and Jews) and at spreading Islam. The group opposed the existence of any secular states in all Muslim societies throughout the Middle East.
The Brotherhood killed Egypt's Prime Minister Mahmud Fahmi Nuqrashi in 1948 and plotted to kill President Gamal Abdel Nasser in the early 1950s. An offshoot group, Islamic Jihad, led by Ayman al-Zawahiri, later Osama bin Laden's number-two man, assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Al-Sadat in 1981 and tried to kill President Hosni Mubarak in 1995.
I. Muslim Brothers' Political Thought
The Brotherhood remains extremely opposed to Western civilization and to a political peaceful settlement to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Hamas is a Palestinian offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood.
This group's political thinking can be summarized as follows:
Finally, "progress" in today's world is realized by two tools, "science and modern management," two qualities that the Muslim Brothers have neither access to nor interest in.
II. The Necessity to Dialogue
Nevertheless, the harsh and often illegal treatment to which the Muslim Brotherhood is subjected is both unacceptable legally and self-defeating in that it hardens attitudes on both sides. In fact, the only way to resolve this problem with the Islamists is through dialogue, by opening channels of communication and engaging in a frank interchange of views. Debating the issues is the only way to transform a religious party, in the long term, into a civil political party that subscribes to the main tenets of democracy: acceptance of the "Other," rotation of power, and respect for other religions and for women. The transformation will be complete when political Islam abandons its distorted understanding of our religion -- from one rooted in the Middle Ages and reflecting the mentality of Bedouins bred in a harsh and unforgiving desert environment. Civil society is entitled to protect itself from any group that remains locked in a time warp and would have us all retreat with it into a distant past.
As reform in Egypt is a thousand times better than its takeover by any of a number of alternatives, so too is reform in Saudi Arabia a thousand times better than its takeover by alternatives that could plunge the entire region into unprecedented chaos. Maintaining the stability of Saudi Arabia and all its neighbors is imperative. But guaranteeing stability is impossible without a historical operation against the extremists. The question is whether the sane elements in Saudi Arabia will follow a course similar to the one taken by their famous forbear eighty years ago or whether they will continue to coexist with them until the ship sinks with everyone on board.
III. The Requirements of the Dialogue
Dialogue with Islamists should be based on seeking the answers to the following questions:
1. Some of the Muslim Brothers (MBs) now expound the idea that Copts (Egyptian Christians) are "Fully First Class Egyptian Citizens." Would this imply that a Copt could be, in principle, elected president of Egypt?
2. Would the Muslim Brothers follow the Saudi model of segregating girls from boys in educational institutions such as schools and universities as well as all other organizations?
3. Non-History-Related-Tourism (beach tourism) generates in excess of 75% of Egypt's tourism revenues. What are the Brotherhood's views on the sale of alcoholic beverages, gambling, and casinos, and women dressing in any way they choose?
4. What is the Brotherhood's opinion concerning the peace treaties between Egypt and Israel, and between Jordan and Israel?
5. What do the MBs think of the different forms of economic cooperation between Egypt and Israel (the Qualifying Industrial Zones [QIZ], in which joint enterprises receive special privileges for exporting goods to the United States, for instance?
6. How do the MBs describe the killing of Israeli civilians in Hamas or Islamic Jihad suicide operations?
7. Do the MBs believe that Sayyid Qutb's doctrine known as al-Hak'imiyya -- that government must be based exclusively on Allah's law and which rejects democracy and human law as apostasy -—is still the basis of their political system?
8. What are the views of the Brotherhood on women holding high government offices -- including ministries, the prime ministership, and Supreme Court judgeships?
9. What are the group's views on the vision of a "two state" solution for Israel and Palestine to live peacefully next to each other? Would they then accept and recognize the right of Israel to exist? Would they also accept that the Jewish section of Jerusalem is Israel's capital?
10. Egypt's legal system since 1883 has been based on the juridical notions of the European legal system. What are the Brotherhood's plans with this regard? And what do they think of physical punishments, such as the sanctions applicable in Saudi Arabia?
11. Like all modern societies, the Egyptian banking system is based on the notion of interests for lending and savings. Will the Brotherhood keep it?
12. Is Iran a factor of stability (or instability) in today's world?
Finally, one must know that the Brothers are likely to use taqqiyya [dissimulation], a principle which --according to some clerics such as Ibn Hanbal and Ibn Taymiyya -- allows Muslims to lie if so doing assists them in ultimately defeating the infidels.
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