Sunday, February 6, 2011

Reuters plays down the power of the Muslim Brotherhood

In addition to sanitizing the image of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood so as to make the group more palatable to Western audiences, Reuters is now engaged in a campaign to minimize the role and importance of the group in the upheaval taking place in Egypt and the wider Middle East.

In an "Analysis" of the situation, Reuters correspondent William Maclean proposes this whopper non sequitur:
The involvement of youths, secularists and the educated middle class gave the lie to any notion that Islamists were at the vanguard of opposition forces in the Arab world.
Notwithstanding the incoherent suggestion that youths and educated middle class cannot also be Islamists (Reuters has already noted that many Brotherhood members are indeed both educated and middle class), Maclean is simply wrong that the Muslim Brotherhood or Islamists generally, are not leading the opposition forces in Egypt or the Arab Middle East.  In a lengthy briefing from last November which in many ways foreshadowed and may largely account for the intensity of the insurrection, AlJazeera wrote:
Still, it is impossible to predict what would happen if, despite Egyptians' reputation for political lethargy, opposition groups managed to put tens of thousands of followers into the streets of Cairo to protest what many expect will be an attempted handover of power to Mubarak's son, Gamal. 
The key to any roadblock on the path to such "republarchy" lies with the Muslim Brotherhood, the world's most influential Islamist movement and far and away the largest and best-organised counterweight to Mubarak's National Democratic Party (NDP).  Change in Egypt, for better or worse, does not materialise without the Brothers
When former International Atomic Energy Agency chief and Nobel Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei - the great hope of Egypt's secular leftists - returned home this year and launched a petition drive to demand the government lift its most onerous national security laws and reform electoral practices, his National Association for Change gathered 106,661 signatures in support by early September.  The Muslim Brotherhood came up with more than 650,000. 
The Brotherhood has 88 seats in parliament, compared to the 34 politicians representing all other non-NDP parties. 
Protest groups such as the Egyptian Movement for Change, or Kifaya, which became a Western media darling during the 2005 election, rely on the Brotherhood to put thousands of supporters into the streets.
Yet with Egypt's November 28 parliamentary elections approaching, the Brotherhood finds itself in flux.
Long repressed by authorities and still technically outlawed, the group is coming off a landmark five-year term in which it served as the largest-ever minority bloc in Egypt's short multi-party political history and the loudest critic of Mubarak's 30-year authoritarian rule.
And though Reuters would have us believe otherwise, the Brotherhood continues to well exercise its power.

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