Obama’s Brotherhood Moment

Obama’s Brotherhood Moment


Posted By
Robert Spencer On February 2, 2011 @ 12:45 am In Daily Mailer,


Game over: Barack Obama has endorsed a role for the Muslim Brotherhood in
a new, post-Mubarak government for Egypt.


should come as no surprise. Obama has behaved consistently all along, from his
refusal to back the protesters in Iran, who were demonstrating against an
Islamic Republic, to his backing of these protesters in Egypt, to whom he has
just given a green light to establish a government that, given numerous
historical precedents, will likely be the precursor to an Islamic


House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Monday that a
post-Mubarak Egyptian ruling group “has to include a whole host of important
nonsecular actors that give Egypt a strong chance to continue to be [a] stable
and reliable partner.”


Robert Malley, an Obama adviser and Mideast negotiator for
Bill Clinton, explained that Obama’s expression of
willingness to see the Brotherhood as part of a ruling coalition
in Egypt
was a “pretty clear sign that the U.S. isn’t going to advocate a narrow form of
pluralism, but a broad one.”


The Post-American Presidency, Pamela
Geller and I profile Robert Malley, Samantha Power, and
other fierce foes of Israel in the Obama Administration.
In light of the
information we reveal in the book, the Administration’s stance toward the Muslim
Brotherhood comes as no surprise. But the ideology and goals of the Muslim
Brotherhood will come as a surprise to most Americans, especially now that the
mainstream media is retailing numerous soothing falsehoods about the group. Thus
they warrant a closer look.


to claims that it is a moderate organization, the Muslim
Brotherhood is actually the prototypical Islamic supremacist, pro-Sharia group
of the modern age.
Founded by Hasan
in Egypt in 1928, the Brotherhood emerged as a response
to colonialism and Western influence in the Islamic world. Al-Banna wrote that
“a wave of dissolution which undermined all firm beliefs was engulfing Egypt in
the name of intellectual emancipation. This trend attacked the morals, deeds and
virtues under the pretext of personal freedom. Nothing could stand against this
powerful and tyrannical stream of disbelief and permissiveness that was sweeping
our country.” His remedy? Restoration of Islamic law as the ruling principle of


consequently decried Kemal Ataturk’s abolition of the Caliphate in secular
Turkey, which he complained separated “the state from religion in a country
which was until recently the site of the Commander of the Faithful.” Al-Banna
characterized it as just part of a larger “Western invasion which was armed and
equipped with all [the] destructive influences of money, wealth, prestige,
ostentation, power and means of propaganda.”


Al-Banna’s Brotherhood had a deeply spiritual character from its
beginning, but it didn’t combat the “Western invasion” with just words and
prayers. In a 1928 article al-Banna decried the complacency of the Egyptian
elite: “What catastrophe has befallen the souls of the reformers and the spirit
of the leaders?…What calamity has made them prefer this life to the thereafter
[sic]? What has made them…consider the way of struggle [sabil
too rough and difficult?”
[2] When the
Brotherhood was criticized for being a political group in the guise of a
religious one, al-Banna met the challenge head-on:


We summon you to Islam, the teachings of Islam, the laws of
Islam and the guidance of Islam,
and if this smacks of “politics” in
your eyes, then it is our policy. And if the one summoning you to these
principles is a “politician,” then we are the most respectable of men, God be
praised, in politics . . . Islam does have a policy embracing the happiness of
this world. . . . We believe that Islam is an
all-embracing concept which regulates every aspect of life,

adjudicating on every one of its concerns and prescribing for it a solid and
rigorous order.


wrote in 1934 that “it is a duty incumbent on every Muslim to struggle towards
the aim of making every people Muslim and the whole
world Islamic
, so that the banner of Islam can flutter over the
earth and the call of the Muezzin can resound in all the corners of the world:
God is greatest [Allahu
]! This is not parochialism, nor is it racial
arrogance or usurpation of land.”


In the
same article al-Banna insisted that “every piece of land where the banner of
Islam has been hoisted is the fatherland of the Muslims” — hence the
impossibility of accommodation with Israel, against which the Brotherhood and
its offshoots still struggle. But the problem was not just
Israel, which after all did not yet exist when the Brotherhood was
. According to Brynjar Lia, the historian of the Muslim
Brotherhood movement: “Quoting the Qur’anic verse
‘And fight them till sedition is no more, and the faith is God’s’ [Sura
], the Muslim Brothers urged their fellow Muslims to
restore the bygone greatness of Islam and to re-establish an Islamic empire.
Sometimes they even called for the restoration of ‘former Islamic colonies’ in
Andalus (Spain), southern Italy, Sicily, the Balkans and the Mediterranean


Such a
call might seem laughable except that the Brotherhood also had weapons and a
military wing. Scholar Martin Kramer notes that the Brotherhood had “a double
identity. On one level, they operated openly, as a membership organization of
social and political awakening. Banna preached moral revival, and the Muslim
Brethren engaged in good works. On another level, however, the Muslim Brethren
created a ‘secret apparatus’ that acquired weapons and trained adepts in their
use. Some of its guns were deployed against the Zionists in Palestine in 1948,
but the Muslim Brethren also resorted to violence in Egypt.
They began to enforce their own moral teachings by intimidation, and they
initiated attacks against Egypt’s Jews. They assassinated judges and struck down a prime minister in
1949. Banna himself was assassinated two months later, probably in


Brotherhood was no gathering of marginalized kooks. It grew in Egypt from 150
branches in 1936 to as many as 1,500 by 1944. In 1939 al-Banna referred to
“100,000 pious youths from the Muslim Brothers from all parts of Egypt,” and
although Lia believes he was exaggerating at that point, by 1944 membership was
estimated as between 100,000 and 500,000.
[7] By 1937 it had
expanded beyond Egypt, setting up “several branches in Sudan, Saudi Arabia,
Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, and Morocco, and one in each of Bahrain, Hadramawt,
Hyderabad, Djibouti and,” Lia adds matter-of-factly, “Paris.”
[8] These many
thousands, dispersed around the world, heard al-Banna’s call
to “prepare for jihad and be lovers of death.”


Brotherhood’s ability to attract Muslims in all these disparate societies
indicates the power of its religious appeal. It
wasn’t offering Muslims a new version of Islam, but a deeply traditional one.
The call to restore the purity and vitality of Islam has always
struck a chord among Muslims; and the Islam the Brotherhood preached was the
traditional one of a total Islamic society, one that could not abide
accommodation—let colonial subjugation—to the West. Al-Banna
told his followers: “Islam is faith and worship, a country and a citizenship, a
religion and a state.
It is spirituality and hard work. It is a Qur’an
and a sword.”


is a revered figure in the Muslim world today, and by no means only among
radicals. His grandson Tariq Ramadan, the well-known European Muslim moderate,
praises his grandfather for his “light-giving faith, a deep spirituality, [and]
personal discipline.”
And many of al-Banna’s writings are still in print
and circulate widely.


The Brotherhood has never rejected or renounced al-Banna’s
vision or program
. And now it is closer to implementing it in
its homeland than it ever has been before – no little thanks to Barack


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