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Pro: Brotherhood’s goals are incompatible with long-term democracy for Egypt

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David A. Ridenour
April 2, 2011
EDITOR’S NOTES: The writer is addressing the question, Is the Muslim Brotherhood a threat to democracy in Egypt?

One person, one vote, one time doesn’t make a country democratic.


If the Muslim Brotherhood wins the election promised for later this year, one election may be all Egyptians ever see.


Former President Jimmy Carter assures us that the Brotherhood need not be feared because it will be “subsumed in the overwhelming demonstration of desire for freedom and democracy.” I’m not comforted by words from a man known for his spectacular foreign policy miscalculations. Surely, he also believed democratic forces would prevail in Iran and Nicaragua when he allowed U.S. allies in both countries to be overthrown by fanatics in 1979.


Popular uprisings can be hijacked by organized and committed ideologues.


The ideologue-filled Brotherhood is Egypt’s best organized political group. Its objectives are incompatible with democracy, as it seeks an Islamic empire and to govern by Sharia law.


In 2008, Muhammad Madhi Akef, then-Brotherhood Supreme Guide, said his organization supports democracy, but only the “right kind … one that honors Sharia.” Whenever democracy and Sharia law conflict, the Brotherhood eschews democracy. Its Palestinian branch, Hamas, says in its charter: “Any procedure in contradiction of Islamic Sharia … is null and void.”


Although the Muslim Brotherhood claims to have renounced violence, its words and deeds suggest otherwise. One of its most infamous members, Abdurahman Alamoudi, is in U.S. federal prison for, among other things, planning with Libya to assassinate Saudi King Abdullah when he was crown prince.


The Brotherhood was also implicated in the 1981 assassination of Anwar Sadat. Sadat was killed by members of the Islamic Jihad, an offshoot of the Brotherhood, after Brotherhood-linked Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, the so-called “Blind Sheikh” who would later be convicted for planning the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, issued a fatwa ordering that Sadat be killed.


Sadat had liberalized Egypt both economically and politically. He cut ties with the Soviet Union, allied with the United States, made peace with Israel, re-instituted the multi-party system, and instituted the Infitah, or “open door” policy, through which he encouraged foreign investment and economic decentralization.


When Sadat died, so too did much of Egypt’s democratic progress.


Yusuf al-Quaradawi, arguably the Brotherhood’s most influential cleric, has repeatedly called for violence, saying homosexuals should be stoned and Israeli children murdered, lest they grow up to become soldiers.


The aforementioned Muhammad Mahdi Akef, who made international headlines a few years ago by labeling the Nazi holocaust a myth, said the Brotherhood “…will send fighters to join the resistance in Iraq and Palestine,” if permitted to do so by the Egyptian government.


Now, the Muslim Brotherhood is closer than ever to taking over Egypt’s government and the power to grant itself permission to send its fighters to Iraq—fighters who could kill Americans.


The organization’s current Supreme Guide, Muhammad Badie, said just last October that Islamists must raise a “jihadi generation that pursues death just as the enemies pursue life.” How the Muslim Brotherhood would behave should it assume power in Egypt is no mystery. Consider how it’s governed in Gaza.


After winning a majority in the Palestinian Legislative Council in 2006, Hamas took, according to Human Rights Watch, “extraordinary steps to control, intimidate, punish and at times eliminate their internal rivals.” Last year, the group charged Hamas with “egregious crimes” for ordering attacks on Israeli civilians.


Last month, Hamas rejected a Palestinian Authority call to hold long-overdue presidential and legislative elections by this September.


Believing the Muslim Brotherhood to be a peaceful, democratic, civic organization reminds me of what Samuel Johnson said about remarriage: The triumph of hope over experience.


David A. Ridenour is vice president of The National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative think tank in Washington. Readers may write to him at: NCPPR, 501 Capitol Court NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; Web site: www.nationalcenter.org.

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