Gehad el-Haddad, official spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), is on a mission to rewrite the terrorist and radical history of the MB. He seems to be doing this for the consumption of naïve Americans. These seem only too willing to believe -- in the name of tolerance, diversity and trying to be non-judgmental -- that an organization whose ultimate goal is the supreme reign of Islamic sharia law everywhere -- if necessary through violent jihad -- could possibly value anything even approximating equality and the rule of (non-sharia) law.
"We are not terrorists," wrote el-Haddad in a recent article in the New York Times.
"The Muslim Brotherhood's philosophy is inspired by an understanding of Islam that emphasizes the values of social justice, equality and the rule of law... We believe that our faith is inherently pluralistic and comprehensive and that no one has a divine mandate or the right to impose a single vision on society... Nothing speaks more to our unequivocal commitment to nonviolence than our continued insistence on peaceful resistance, despite unprecedented state violence".
The "faith", which el-Haddad avoids naming, is Islam. The very essence of Islam, as sanctioned in the Quran and the hadiths, however, seems to be the belief in a divine mandate to impose the single vision of Islam on the world -- if necessary, through violent jihad. Its motto is:
"Allah is our objective; the Prophet is our leader; the Quran is our law; Jihad is our way; dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope".
Even dawa, the Islamic call to conversion, or proselytizing -- as explained by the Muslim Brotherhood's spiritual leader, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, host of one of Al Jazeera's most popular programs, Sharia and Life, which reaches an estimated 60 million viewers worldwide -- is an Islamic summons for the non-violent conquest of non-Muslim lands. As Qaradawi told a Muslim Arab Youth Association convention in Toledo, Ohio, in 1995, "We will conquer Europe, we will conquer America! Not through sword but through Da'wa."
Qaradawi, in a recording from 2007, says that the aim of this "peaceful" conquest consists mainly of the introduction of Islamic law, sharia. According to Qaradawi, sharia should be introduced in a new country gradually, over a five-year period, before implementing it in full. Sharia includes the end of free speech under "blasphemy laws"; the oppression of women, including women being worth half as much as a man in court and inheritance; polygamy, and the persecution of Jews (Qaradawi advocates killing all of them). Qaradawi has explained in TV recordings how sharia also includes chopping off hands for theft, killing apostates and homosexuals, as well as beating women as a means of "disciplining" them.
The New York Times, ostensibly concerned with "fake news", evidently has no qualms about lending its pages to such straightforward propaganda as El-Haddad's piece on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood.
According to a recent report by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), the MB recently launched a lobbying offensive in the United States to charm decision-makers in the Trump administration and Congress to give up on the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act of 2017, re-introduced on January 9, 2017, by Senator Ted Cruz.
According to the MEMRI report, the Muslim Brotherhood's lobbying efforts include:
"Launching a widespread informational media campaign, including the hiring of U.S. lobbying and legal firms, outreach to the press in the U.S., and dissemination of informational content aimed at improving its image in the West, particularly in the U.S."
The purpose is "to convey that it is not a terrorist organization, but rather an ideological movement whose methods of operation are peaceful".
Human Rights Watch, an organization that is supposed to look out for victims of human rights abuses, not abusers of human rights, also jumped on that bandwagon. Human Rights Watch is begging US decision makers not to designate the Muslim Brotherhood -- who, if they had their way, would take away everyone's human rights and substitute them with sharia law -- a foreign terrorist organization.
The MEMRI report also cites former MB official Tareq Abu Al-Sa'ad's claim that, as part of its efforts to improve its image in the U.S., "the MB relies on specific American families who are members of the MB and have close ties to the U.S. administration... to contact human rights organizations to help improve its image in Washington".
Conveniently, Hamas -- which according to Article Two of its charter, "is one of the wings of Moslem Brotherhood in Palestine. The Moslem Brotherhood Movement is a universal organization which constitutes the largest Islamic movement in modern times..." -- is, it seems, working on a new charter which would declare that Hamas is not a part of the Muslim Brotherhood, despite always having been so. That way, is the MB's "narrative" of newfound "nonviolence" suddenly supposed to become believable?
The Muslim Brotherhood evidently considers the West filled with utter dupes, willing to take anything at face value that is served up to them. One can hardly blame them. The West has swallowed whole the propaganda of Islam as a "religion of peace". Why should the US not buy the equally false idea that the MB is a non-violent, pluralistic, social justice movement?
According to the MEMRI report:
"Evidence of the lobbying moves could be seen in comments by a London-based MB official, Mohamed Soudan, who said in late January that the Muslim Brotherhood was speaking to American politicians, State Department officials, members of Congress, and academics, in order to explain the nonviolent history of the movement since its establishment in 1928".
Left: The emblem of the Muslim Brotherhood. Right: While being hosted by the State Department on a visit to Washington in January 2015, Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood judge Waleed Sharaby flashed the organization's four-finger "Rabia" sign.
Also according to the MEMRI report:
"On February 5, the Saudi website Elaph reported that the MB had signed a contract with an American lobbying firm, paying it $4.8 million to help it establish ties with Trump administration officials in order to improve its image in U.S. media. According to the report, the contract included organizing meetings with Trump administration officials, submitting documents on Egyptian government mistreatment of the movement and its members, publishing articles in American media, and providing platforms for MB officials in the American print and TV media. Elaph added that elements close to the Obama administration had helped the movement sign the contract with this firm, whose officials include figures close to Obama's election campaign and to Hillary Clinton. According to Elaph, the firm employs dozens of former White House and State Department staffers who have extensive ties to members of Congress and political and strategic research centers in the U.S".
Is anyone doing anything substantial to counter the Muslim Brotherhood's lobbying offensive in the United States?
Judith Bergman is a writer, columnist, lawyer and political analyst.