Violence must always be presented as a product of political oppression, and Islamists as the misunderstood victims.

In a video of Hosni Mubarak when he was still Egypt's president, the strategies of which he accuses the Muslim Brotherhood have come to pass. What follows are Mubarak's words from a conference in Egypt (date unknown; author's translation):

So they [Brotherhood and affiliates] took advantage of the economic situation by handing out money -- to one man, 100 Egyptian pounds, or about $30 dollars, [saying,] "Here take this bag of glycerin and throw it here," or do this or that — to create a state of instability in Egypt. And these groups — do not ever believe that they want democracy or anything like that. They are exploiting democracy to eliminate democracy. And if they ever do govern, it will be an ugly dictatorship. …. Once a foreigner told me, "Well, if that's the case, why don't you let them form parties?" I told him, "They'd attack each other." He said, "So let them attack each other." I came to understand that by "attack each other" he thought I meant through dialogue. For years, we have been trying to dialogue with them, and we still are. If the dialogue is limited to words, fine. But when the dialogue goes from words to bullets and bombs… [Mubarak shakes his head, and then provides anecdotes of the Egyptian police and security detail being killed by Brotherhood and affiliates. These anecdotes include one about how 104 policemen were killed in 1981, and one about how one officer was shot by MB while trying to save a boy's life.] The point is, we do not like bloodshed, neither our soldiers' nor our officers'. But when I see that you are firing at me, trying to kill me—well, I have to defend myself. Then the international news agencies go to these [Islamist] groups for information, and they tell them, "They are killing us, they are killing us!" Well, don't you [news agencies] see them killing the police?! I swear to you, not one of the police wants to kill them—not one of us. Then they say, "So, Mr. President, you gave orders to the police to open fire indiscriminately?"—I cannot give such an order, at all. It contradicts the law. I could at one point be judged [for it].

Consider Mubarak's exchange with "a foreigner," who interpreted Mubarak's "they'd attack each other" in apparently Western political terms of "dialogue." The habit of projecting Western approaches onto Islamists—who ironically represent the antithesis of the West—is one of the chief problems causing the West to be blind to reality, one which insists that violence must always be presented as a product of political oppression, and Islamists as the misunderstood victims.

Whatever one thinks of Hosni Mubarak, the following three points he makes have proven true:

  1. Mubarak: "And these groups—don't ever believe that they want democracy or anything like that. They are exploiting democracy to eliminate democracy. And if they ever do govern, it will be an ugly dictatorship." Quite so. While paying lip service to democracy, once the Brotherhood came into power under former President Muhammad Morsi, they became openly tyrannical: Morsi gave himself unprecedented powers for an Egyptian president, appointed Brotherhood members to all important governmental posts, "Brotherhoodizing" Egypt (as Egyptians called it), and quickly pushed through a Sharia-heavy constitution. Under Morsi's one year of rule, many more Christians were attacked, arrested, and imprisoned for "blasphemy" than under Mubarak's thirty years.

  2. Mubarak: "Then the international news agencies go to these groups [Brotherhood] for information, and they tell them, 'they are killing us, they are killing us!' Well, don't you [new agencies] see them killing the police?!" Now that the Brotherhood has been ousted and is promoting terrorism in Egypt—especially against its Christian minority—trying to push the nation into an all-out civil war, they are in fact feeding the international media the old lie that they are innocent, peaceful victims in an attempt to garner Western sympathy.

  3. Mubarak: "They took advantage of the economic situation by handing out money." Funded by rich Wahhabi states, the Islamist organizations bought their way into Egyptian society and power. Prior to elections, they paid—bribed—Egyptians to vote for them; and after their ousting, they are paying people—along with beatings and forms of coercion—to stay with them in Rad'a al-Adawiya Square, and provide them with numbers, seemingly for practical and propagandistic purposes.

In Egypt, however, where the Muslim Brotherhood was born, one soon learns that, when "dialogue" does not go the way Islamists want it to, it's back to terrorism. This requires a more realistic approach, or, in the words of Mubarak, a man who, like his predecessors, especially Gamal Abdel Nasser, is intimately acquainted with the Brotherhood: "When I see that you are firing at me, trying to kill me—well, I have to defend myself."

Raymond Ibrahim is author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam's New War in Christians (published by Regnery in cooperation with Gatestone Institute, April 2013). He is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an associate fellow at the Middle East Forum.

Related Topics:  Egypt  |  Raymond Ibrahim receive the latest by email: subscribe to the free gatestone institute mailing list

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