Will the Obama administration’s policy toward Egypt be based on a perception that the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood would be extremely dangerous? Or have they taken the position – voiced in parts of the U.S. foreign policy establishment – that the Brotherhood has become moderate and can be talked to? Initial administration reactions indicate that it does not rule out Muslim Brotherhood participation in a future Egyptian coalition government.
Since January 28, the Muslim Brotherhood’s involvement has become more prominent, with its support of Mohamed ElBaradei to lead the opposition forces against the government. In the streets of Cairo, Muslim Brotherhood demonstrators disdainfully call people like ElBaradei “donkeys of the revolution” (hamir al-thawra) – to be used and thenpushed away – a scenario that sees the Muslim Brotherhoodexploit ElBaradei in order to hijack the Egyptian revolution at a later stage.
There has been a great deal of confusion about the Muslim Brotherhood.In the years after it was founded in 1928, it developed a “secret apparatus” that engaged in political terrorism against Egyptian Copts as well as government officials. In December 1948, the Muslim Brotherhood assassinated Egyptian Prime Minister Mahmoud al-Nuqrashi Pasha. It also sought to kill Egyptian leader Abdul Nasser in October 1954.
Former Brotherhood Supreme Guide Muhammad Akef declared in 2004 his “complete faith that Islam will invade Europe and America.” In 2001, the Muslim Brotherhood’s publication in London, Risalat al-Ikhwan, featured at the top of its cover page the slogan: “Our Mission: World Domination.” This header was changed after 9/11.
The current Supreme Guide, Muhammad Badi’, gave a sermon in September 2010 stating that “the improvement and change that the [Muslim] nation seeks can only be attained through jihad and sacrifice and by raising a jihadi generation that pursues death, just as the enemies pursue life.”
The writer, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN, is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.