Tag Archives: Muslim Brotherhood

News from Israel’s Islamist neighborhood

Recently, the Austrian newspaper Die Presse featured an interview with the Syrian-German scholar Bassam Tibi who is a widely respected expert on Islamism. The title of the interview quotes one of Tibi’s assessments: “The Muslim Brothers are a totalitarian movement” (a reliable English translation of the interview can be found here.)

Among the issues addressed in the interview are the implications of the Islamists’ ascendancy for Israel. Tibi’s answer is blunt: “Israel will be paying a high price, because – in addition to a sharia state – the basic tenets of Islamism include antisemitism.”

Anyone inclined to find this statement too harsh should read the new report in MEMRI’s Antisemitism Documentation Project, which is devoted to antisemitic and anti-Israel articles on the website of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. Here are just a few quotes from the fairly long report; emphasis is mine to highlight the rank of the writer:

In a June 2011 sermon posted on the website, MB in Egypt General Guide Muhammad Badi’ discussed the Jews, their traits, and their actions: “Allah warned us against the deceit of the Jews and their dangerous role in sparking wars: ‘Whenever they kindle a fire for war Allah puts it out, and they strive to make mischief in the land; and Allah does not love the mischief-makers [Koran 5:64].’ Their hands light the hidden fuse… [and] little time passes before the fire spreads to the field of war, including Islamic lands… The war in Sudan and its division are their handiwork; the internal struggle and war among the Palestinians is [likewise part] of their plan. [For this reason,] the reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah angered them.” […]

Against the backdrop of the discussion over Egypt’s reconsideration of its peace agreement with Israel, and in the wake of the 2011 cross-border attacks near Eilat, Israel, in which seven Israelis and five Egyptian soldiers were killed, Dr. Muhammad ‘Ali Dabour, member of the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) and lecturer at Cairo University, wrote about the Jewish nature: “Throughout all of history, the Jews have failed to keep their word. They always employ a double standard and act in their own interests, even if it means destroying the entire world… The Koran informs us: ‘Certainly you will find the most violent of people in enmity for those who believe (to be) the Jews and those who are polytheists [Koran 5:82].’ Allah, may He be exalted, [also] said: ‘But on account of their breaking their covenant We cursed them and made their hearts hard; they altered the words from their places…’ [Koran 5:13]. Breaking agreements and treaties is easier for [Jews] than drinking water or breathing air. Such are the Jews. Such is Jewish nature. Though they flatter, act hypocritically, and embitter the entire world, we Muslims must not be deceived by them.” […]

As early as October 2010, Dr. Isma’il ‘Ali Muhammad, lecturer at Al-Azhar University, published a series of articles on “the nature of the Jews according to the Old Testament and the Talmud.” In one article, he wrote: “It would not be an exaggeration to say that the [Jewish] character is still a source of evil and harm among all human societies […] When one reads the Old Testament, the Talmud, and the ideas born of them such as [those found in] The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the rulings of the rabbis, and the streams of Jewish ideology, one finds in them an open hostility toward all people. The Jews’ deviant behavior is directed at all humanity… The holy ideological sources – according to their belief – permit them to act hypocritically and treacherously, and to unjustly throw to the dogs the lives, property, and belongings of non-Jews.”[7]

In another article, he claimed that Jewish tradition taught the Jews to be “so criminal that they are unparalleled in all [other] human societies. It incites them to annihilate the non-Jews and to spread ruin and destruction throughout the non-Jewish world.” […]

In an article published following the release of prisoners as part of the Gilad Shalit deal, Dr. ‘Abd Al-Rahman Al-Bar, a member of the MB General Guide’s Office and of the IUMS, stressed that jihad and martyrdom were the path to liberating all of Palestine – from “the sea to the river” – rather than negotiations, which had consistently failed to produce positive results. He emphasized that the attack on the Israeli embassy in Cairo was one of the milestones of the revolution in Egypt:

“‘Oh brothers, Allah has granted the ummah, which excels at producing death and knows how to die honorably, dear life in this world and eternal bliss in the next. The weakness that leads to our humiliation is love for this world and hatred of death. Prepare your souls for a great deed. Work toward death; it is then that you will be granted life. Act toward honorable death, and you will earn complete happiness.’

“With these words, [MB founder] the shahid, the imam Hassan Al-Bana concluded his ‘Letter on Jihad.’ [These words] came to my mind when, in tears of joy, I watched the scenes of the prisoners being released from the prisons of the Zionist occupation, a nobility visible on their faces and in their eyes, and the words issuing from their mouths like rockets expressing [their] steadfastness… They proved that jihad alone is the means of liberating both man and homeland…

In another article, Dr. ‘Abd Al-Rahman Al-Bar called to support “the jihad of the resistance materially, in the media, and morally,” and expressed his hope that Israel would soon be destroyed: “The [Palestinian] cause will remain a prime concern for the [Muslim] ummah, until Allah heralds the end of the racist state of occupation [i.e. Israel], and until the last of the people of our ummah fights the swindling Jews and their armies and delivers the land from their wickedness… [It was related by the Prophet’s Companion] Abu Huraira that the Prophet said, ‘Judgment Day will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them. The Jews will hide behind stones and trees, and the stones and trees will call: O Muslim, o servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him – except for the gharqad tree, which is the tree of the Jews.’” […]

Who’s defaming Islam?

Efforts to combat “Islamophobia” have long been on the agenda of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), but there are legitimate concerns about the implications of various initiatives that have sought to criminalize any “defamation” of Islam. Whenever I read about these issues – raised e.g. in this recent piece – I’m left with a lot of questions, because it seems to me that it is often Muslims, and indeed Muslim authorities, that are the worst offenders.

Consider the examples from the Saudi textbook on “Studies from the Muslim World” quoted in my previous post. To say that the Koran encourages Jew-hatred surely sounds “Islamophobic,” but unfortunately, that seems to be very much the message that Saudi authorities want to convey to the millions of Muslim youngsters who study this textbook.

Similarly, it would seem definitely defamatory to say that one of the most influential Muslim preachers believes that Hitler should be seen as “divine punishment” for the Jews – but unfortunately, this is just one of many shocking statements made by Sheik Yusuf Qaradawi, who is revered as a great scholar by many millions of Muslims.

Western non-Muslims are often admonished to avoid formulations that associate Islam with terrorism or racism. One frequently cited argument is that “just as the Ku Klux Klan does not speak for Christianity,” terrorists who claim to be motivated by Islamic teaching don’t speak for Islam and do not deserve to have their claim taken seriously.

But in this context it’s instructive to recall that the UN has not adopted a definition of terrorism because the OIC wants to make sure that the definition would not include violent acts that its Muslim member countries deem part of “the legitimate struggle of peoples in the exercise of their right to self-determination.” As everyone knows, this means that Kurdish terrorists will remain terrorist, whereas “jihad” as defined in the Saudi “Studies from the Muslim World,” won’t be terrorism:

“Jihad for the sake of Allah is the only path to liberating Palestine. Only through jihad did the Muslims conquer Jerusalem, and only through jihad did the Crusaders leave Palestine. Likewise, only through jihad will the Jews leave Palestine.”

There are plenty of examples indicating that the Muslim Brotherhood – which, given its impressive popular support can now definitely claim to be a “mainstream” group, and which is often described as “moderate” in the Western media – has a similar view. And no matter what Western liberals may want to believe, the term “jihad” most definitely does not refer to some struggle for self-improvement here.

The obvious problem is that the OIC’s efforts to shield Islam from defamation by non-Muslims will inevitably look like an attempt to proscribe free speech as long as authorities that claim a leading role in the Muslim world as well as mainstream Muslim groups and widely revered Muslim scholars come out with statements that sound quite “Islamophobic” when quoted as representative of mainstream Muslim views.