yes, it was a terrible mistake, but …

Muslim_Brotherhood_Emblem Muslim Brothers insignia/slogan

The recent death verdict against more than five hundred supporters of the outlawed Muslim Brothers for the burning down of a police station and the brutal killing of a senior police officer in Upper Egypt has been roundly and rightly condemned in Egypt and abroad. By all accounts the trial lacked all the basic standards of a fair hearing.

But justice is not the only victim in this outrageous saga. The presiding judge has handed the Muslim Brothers precisely the kind of ammunition they need in their international campaign to demonise and delegitimise the interim authorities in Egypt. Nearly all legal experts know (and so does the ever so Machiavellian MB) that there is no way this ruling will actually be implemented and that there will be a new trial with a different outcome the most likely result.

Yet, The damage is done. One hopes that the judicial body supervising judges will review the case and censure the judge who pronounced this verdict to repaire some of the harm done to the already battered reputation of the Egyptian legal system .

This should however not detract from the fact that the Egyptian government’s decision to outlaw the MB and designate it a terrorist organisation is not only justified, but still enjoys the support of the public in Egypt.

The Muslim Brothers is a religious supremacist cult that has caused much bloodshed and suffering for Egypt since its founding more than 80 years ago. In fact not only in Egypt, but the entire world, because the MB and its ideology has spawned almost all the jihadi groups you are likely to meet anywhere. It has even grown roots in Western societies, seeking to turn Muslim communities into potential ghettos where extremism and xenophobia thrive.

In Egypt, the secretive group (which operates like a peculiar hybrid of a Masonic lodge and a Bolshevik politburo) has undermined the transformation of Egypt into a modern inclusive society guided by rational thinking, under the pretext that it is defending Egypt’s Islamic identity. Egyptian identity has in reality always defied reduction to a single dimension. Throughout history Egypt has been a melting pot, it borrows freely from other cultures, by choice or by force, mixes the various ingredients and produces its own unique blend. That is the essence of Egyptian culture, reducing it to one element runs against the grain of the eclectic traditions of its people. The only way the MB could have achieved that would have been by coercion if it had been allowed to turn Egypt into a theocracy.

Fighting the regressive and violent ideology of the MB should be the duty not only of the Egyptian government but all others. Instead of criticising Egypt, Western governments should follow the example of Saudi Arabia and the UAE and designate the MB a terrorist organisation. If Hamas and Hizbu Al-Tahrir are proscribed, so why not the fountainhead of all these outfits !

Thanks to sustained and well-funded campaign to brand the MB as a moderate organisation, many Western think tanks have bought into this fallacy and sold it to policy makers. Thus has Islamism become deliberately confused with Islam and those who dare criticise the MB and its ideology risk being vilified as Islamophobes. Time to expose all the groups and ideas that seek to separate Muslim migrants from the rest of their host society either by insisting on a supposedly Islamic dress code or by demanding the application of Sharia in countries where standards of justice and equality are in fact higher than anything ever achieved in any Muslim society ( and as such compliant with the spirit of Sharia that seeks justice for all and sundry).

In fact, one needs not go further than the MBs well-known insignia-slogan which unambiguously states what the MB stands for : the koran is our constitution, jihad is our way, and dying for the sake of God is our ultimate goal.

Please note that “jihad” is not meant in its noble and more spiritual sense of a personal struggle to achieve higher states of piety and morality, or else what are the swords there for ! The MB also want to DIE , not to live, for the sake of god, which is precisely what it has been doing for nearly a century and taking with it tens of thousands of innocent people. It calls those killers martyrs, and the victims kuffar or apostates.

For the vast majority of Muslims, this is not Islam.

Conflating Islam and Islamism has been the deliberate strategy of the Muslim Brothers and other associated groups. Time for Muslims living in the West too to speak up and actively reject this for their own best interest. They should be supported by Western governments. The MB ideology has been a major obstacle to integration and has created the perfect environment for intolerance and extremism. Fighting the supremacist ideology of Islamism is not fighting Islam. In fact that ideology has done so much damage to the reputation of the faith itself, because of all the violence and bigotry associated with it. Therefore it has to be fought everywhere, and not only in Egypt or Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

(slightly different version was published in IslamistGate : http://www.islamistgate.com/543 )

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Magdi Abdelhadi

Writer, broadcaster, moderator, media consultant. I commute between London and Cairo. I am a former BBC journalist. All views here are only mine.

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