US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was heavily criticised on Saturday following her first visit to the palace of Egypt’s newly elected president, Mohammed Morsi.
During her stay, Clinton promised Morsi – who was sworn in two weeks ago as Egypt’s first democratically elected president – that she would prioritise delivering the $1 billion in aid that was promised by the Obama administration over a year ago, and that the United States fully supports the Egyptian government as it continues to empower its citizens once more. Yet this show of good faith immediately sparked a backlash amongst protesters and American media outlets expressing condemnation towards Morsi due to his leadership role within the Muslim Brotherhood political movement.
Widely regarded by the media as a collective of dangerous, ideological extremists, the Society of the Muslim Brothers is unarguably one of the Arab world’s largest and most influential Islamic movements. The organisation has evolved profoundly since its founding in 1928; however, they have continued to heavily maintain a focus on establishing an all-encompassing model of political activism that goes hand-in-hand with religious charity work. Although it was widely argued that the Brotherhood had ties to a paramilitary wing throughout the 1970s, the group now preaches non-violence, and has received condemnation from the likes of al-Qaeda for being ‘too moderate’ and supporting democracy.
On the other hand, several critics have worked tirelessly in order to establish ties between contemporary members of the Muslim Brotherhood with various terrorist groups; however, none of the members in question have been very influential within the organisation. Furthermore, most critics assert that Egypt’s new president will undoubtedly establish a renewed extremist autocracy, hailing in an era of religious persecution in which Islamic Sharia law will be violently forced upon the nation’s Coptic Christian minority; however, this misconception runs utterly contrary to the statements that have been repeatedly made by party officials throughout the past year.
“There can be no question that genuine democracy must prevail,” President Morsi has explained. “While the Muslim Brotherhood is unequivocal regarding its basis in Islamic thought, it rejects any attempt to enforce any ideological line upon the Egyptian people.”
Thus far, the regime has expressed zero interest in forcing Islam upon Egypt’s religious minorities; nor has it expressed any violent tendencies towards the United States. What’s more, President Morsi has even gone so far as to assert a newfound commitment towards improving relations with the Israeli state – regardless of what outrageous clerics or fear-mongering political pundits may be reporting.
Indeed, the Muslim Brotherhood has given no reason whatsoever as to why the American people should perceive it as an enemy. The organisation boasts a dozen peaceful, mainly student, groups based throughout the US who regularly take part in unbiased charity work and moderate political activism. Additionally, although conservative think-tanks have released dozens upon dozens of reports in which they claim that these offshoots are some sort of ‘sleeper-cell’ awaiting instructions that will initiate a jihad against American society from within, there is absolutely no evidence in order to support such bigoted claims.
If nothing else, this misguided and hypocritical cynicism regarding the Muslim Brotherhood can most likely be pegged as a regrettable perpetuation of the aggressive post 9-11 stigma towards Islam that has been spread so carelessly throughout American society. Indeed, it cannot be ignored that a vast slice of middle-America has for too long lived comfortably in a bubble of religious ignorance that maintains zero contact with the ideals of Islam; however, have Christian extremists not caused substantially more harm to American society than that of a tiny handful of Islamic fundamentalists?
While the Muslim Brotherhood has not been directly involved in an act of violence since at least 1948, Christian extremist groups have unarguably posed a very prevalent threat to domestic security in America throughout the past twenty years. One such group, the Army of God, has acknowledged responsibility for hundreds of violent attacks on doctors across the United States – in several cases leading to murder. Furthermore, American Christian extremists have been convicted of bombings at Centennial Olympic Park, gay nightclubs, events hosted by racial minorities and have even been deported from various other nations such as Israel on suspicion of planning to attack Jewish and Muslim pilgrims.
More recently, nine members of a Michigan-based Christian militia group known as Hutaree were indicted by a federal grand jury in Detroit for committing hate crimes, conspiracy to use explosives and even teaching the art of explosives to Christian youth. There are currently half a dozen domestic Christian extremist groups under heavy surveillance by the FBI – meanwhile, Irish-born American donors continue to heartily fund the withering efforts of religious violence in Britain. Historically, Christians have caused more death and destruction throughout the world than all other religions combined – therefore, should said religion not be a synonym for violence and hatred?
Contrary to the assertions of some, no religion condones sadism or discrimination – nor do the majority of religious practitioners. Yet if the masses of western democracy wish to shroud themselves in ignorance by assuming that 24% of the world’s population are an inherent enemy of freedom due to their belief in Islam, those same individuals must also simultaneously write off their own religion as an enemy of peace and stability.
The Muslim Brotherhood – or at the very least, its leadership – has shown virtually no recent signs of aggression towards America, Israel, Christianity or democracy. The group is non-violent, and regularly voices condemnation regarding terrorism throughout the world – including the attacks that took place on 9-11. Furthermore, the admittedly conservative organisation was founded upon the principle that democracy and the will of its people must come above all else – including religion. As a result of the group’s progressive attitude, it appears that foreign mistrust of the organisation must stem from one thing only: the fact that Islam is involved in the group’s ideology.
Many perceive religion to be the greatest gift that will ever be bestowed upon humanity – yet some individuals are inherently bound to misinterpret religious teachings and commit violence on their God’s behalf. However, this utterly atrocious practice should under no circumstances ever give way to a bigoted generalisation regarding all individuals of said religious groups.
The American government has re-established ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and its legitimately elected democratic officials because Egypt is taking a massive step towards a brighter future. Conservatives can justly argue whether or not it is wise for America’s ailing Treasury to provide Egypt’s emerging government with $1 billion in aid – because in truth, it’s probably not wise at all. However, no critic can justly argue the nobility of the Muslim Brotherhood and its intentions until such a time that the group has given any evidence as to why they should not be trusted. Indeed, if nothing else, a religious upbringing of any shape or form should have taught said critics that they must never judge someone before getting to know them.