Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Our fear of criticizing the Brotherhood | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Now, following their ascent to power in Egypt, in the eyes of many the Muslim Brotherhood are like the holy calf, namely nobody criticizes them, as they equate this with criticizing Islam! This is a rule that we cannot accept, for the Brotherhood are nothing more than a political party and are no different than any other political party in this regard.

We have seen the start of a relentless campaign to protect the Brotherhood and its practices, seeking to place the Egyptian regime above criticism and grant this political movement a sense of sanctity it does not deserve, for no other reason that it proclaims itself “Islamic” and its followers sport the so-called “prayer bump” on their foreheads! For us, the Brotherhood are nothing more than a political group, they make mistakes and commit errors, and they should be appreciated and indeed criticized based upon their actions. I say to those in the region who are afraid of the Brotherhood’s supporters: we have lived under this media terrorism for years. We were confronted with this on numerous occasions in the past and it never succeeded. One day, those who are afraid of this will discover what I myself discovered in previous such campaigns. We faced this terrorism on numerous occasions in the past, including from Hezbollah, being accused of being traitors and Zionist agents simply for discussing its actions. However those who fought us unjustly yesterday have turned against Hezbollah today, criticizing them utilizing language that we ourselves would not dare use! We heard the same thing, for us and against us, from these very same people over the issue of Iran, who they previously viewed as the “champion” of Islam and “nemesis” of Israel, whilst today they have completely reversed their position and are now criticizing Iran far more than we ever did! They also previously defended the Bashar al-Assad regime, believing its lies about pan-Arabism and the Palestinian Cause and fighting the enemy, completely ignoring the crimes it was committing. The al-Assad regime did not begin its terrible crimes in March of last year, when the Syrian popular revolution broke out; rather it had been committing these for years. Even when the al-Assad regime was responsible for the deaths of dozens of Lebanese leaders and senior politicians, they continued to call it the “resistance” axis and assert that anybody who objected to this was in Israel’s service! Under this pretext, these same people defended al-Assad and his supporter’s crimes. We also recall those who lauded Al Qaeda during the terrorist organization’s early days, defending the worst group in the history of Islam and portraying them as if this were the shade of great Islamic hero Khalid ibn al-Walid.

I say to all those who sanctified Hassan Nasrallah, and attacked us over Iran, Bin Laden and al-Assad: be patient, do not rush to judge those who criticize the Brotherhood in Egypt or elsewhere. This is politics, and the Muslim Brotherhood is a political organization; they are not infallible. If you just look at the situation a few weeks following their ascent to power in Egypt, you will – unfortunately – see that many Brotherhood figures had already not hesitated to resort to deception and slander. What they said about Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei during this period is a simple model of the manner in which they seek to discredit anybody who opposes them, and this includes slinging accusations of apostasy and treason! They said that ElBaradei had sold Iraq out and was responsible for its destruction, along with other false allegations, when anybody who was accurately monitoring the situation well knows that of all the Arabs who have run international institutions, he is amongst the most moral and ethical and he completely rejected international intervention in Iraq. However the Brotherhood deleted this with a stroke of their pen and promoted a false version of ElBaradei and his accomplishments to monopolize power and remove a political rival!

I am well aware that it is difficult for some people to differentiate between those who view Islam purely as a religion, and those who work in politics and raise religious slogans. This is thanks to some opportunists rushing to exploit religion and religious slogans for their own benefit. Criticizing the ruling Muslim Brotherhood does not mean that one is criticizing Islam, they are not the Prophet’s Companions; rather this is nothing more than criticizing a normal political group, as any other. When we criticize a socialist group, for example, this does not mean that we oppose social justice or its values. When we criticized the Baathists and supports of pan-Arabism, this did not necessarily mean that we rejected the concept of Arab unity! Therefore we must not bow down to slogans, religious or otherwise; these should not be immune from criticism. Those who raise such slogans are nothing more than politicians and political parties, whilst opposing the Freedom and Justice Party does not mean support for slavery and injustice! These are just names, and they are used to attract public support in this manner.

Unfortunately, somebody may avoid one ideological trap only to stumble into another. We see the same mistakes being made again and again, only each time over different “names” or “attributes”. Therefore, it is only those who worship this holy calf – whether we are talking about the Brotherhood or anybody else – who continually fall into this trap and sanctify this false idol…as for the rest of us, we know better!