Following the departure of Hosni Mubarak last Friday, government leaders in the US and elsewhere have expressed concern that the Muslim Brotherhood may ascend to power in Egypt. As a media organization that has consistently embraced all things hostile to Jewish nationalism, Reuters has been busy over the last couple of weeks cleaning up the image, history, membership, and doctrine of the Brotherhood so as to make the group more palatable to Western audiences.
Reuters correspondent Phil Stewart continues in that vein by offering us a risible oxymoron; selectively quoting the Obama administration's dubious director of national intelligence; and repeating a propaganda mantra which has become ubiquitous of late in Reuters stories on the Brotherhood:
Recalling comedian George Carlin, the phrase "moderate Islamist" evokes other classic oxymorons like holy war, mercy killing, and death benefit. Only Reuters could suggest that those zealously committed to the universal adoption of medieval and misogynistic Sharia law could be considered "moderate".Al Qaeda is widely seen as weak in Egypt thanks partly to Mubarak, and his departure is raising fears in the U.S. Congress that the rise of even moderate Islamists may give radical elements more room to operate.
In an effort to suggest that Western concerns over the Muslim Brotherhood are overblown, Stewart cites the Obama administration's director of national intelligence, James Clapper, in testimony before Congress:
Carefully edited out from this direct quote however, is Clapper's embarrassing assertion that the Brotherhood is largely secular. Here is a more complete citation:James Clapper, the U.S. director of national intelligence, sought to play down fears about the Muslim Brotherhood this week, saying it "has eschewed violence and has decried al Qaeda as a perversion of Islam."
"They have pursued social ends, betterment of the political order in Egypt, et cetera," he told lawmakers on Thursday.
Clapper acknowledged that the Muslim Brotherhood was only an umbrella group, and FBI Director Robert Mueller noted that some elements have supported terrorism in the past.
Nor does Stewart mention that Clapper may not be the most reliable source for an accurate assessment of the Islamist threat to peace and security."The term 'Muslim Brotherhood'...is an umbrella term for a variety of movements, in the case of Egypt, a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried Al Qaeda as a perversion of Islam," Clapper said. "They have pursued social ends, a betterment of the political order in Egypt, et cetera.....In other countries, there are also chapters or franchises of the Muslim Brotherhood, but there is no overarching agenda, particularly in pursuit of violence, at least internationally."
Then comes the propaganda mantra:
As we noted last week when Reuters began embedding this deliberately deceptive rhetoric in its stories on the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas -- which is considered a terrorist organization by the European Union as well as by the United States -- does not simply believe in "armed struggle" against Israel. In violation of the Reuters Handbook, Stewart is employing a misleading euphemism to conceal the Islamist commitment to eradicating Israel and carrying out a genocide of the Jewish people.The movement [Muslim Brotherhood], which Mubarak's government banned and sought to demonize, is certainly hostile to Israel and the U.S. policy in the region.
It has historic links with the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, which Washington considers to be a terrorist organization, and shares its belief in armed struggle against Israel.
But unlike the militant groups that fought Mubarak's rule in the 1990s, the Brotherhood is led by professionals with modern educations -- engineers, doctors, lawyers and academics. The core membership is middle-class or lower middle-class.
Stewart then repeats the incoherent suggestion that a "professional" and educated leadership on the one hand, and the adoption of violent, totalitarian aims on the other, are somehow mutually exclusive. We beg to differ.