It was only a week ago, while mass demonstrations were taking place in Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world, that James Clapper, US Director of National Intelligence, told the House Intelligence Committee that “The term ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ … is an umbrella term for a variety of movements, in the case of Egypt, a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried Al Qaeda as a perversion of Islam.”
Fortunately, there were many on Capitol Hill who did not share that assessment and, following criticism of his remarks, efforts were made to back-pedal and correct the impression that he had created.
If there were any uncertainty as to the views espoused by the Muslim Brotherhood, the speech given by Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi in Tahrir Square last week should have left no one in doubt.
Al-Qaradawi is one of the world’s leading Islamic scholars and a regular broadcaster on Al Jazeera.
In addressing those gathered for noon prayers in Tahrir Square, he said: “Oh Allah, take this oppressive, tyrannical band of people…take this oppressive, Jewish Zionist band of people…do not spare a single one of them. Oh Allah, count their numbers, and kill them, down to the very last one.”
His words echo those of the Hamas Charter, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which affirms that “The Day of Judgment will not come until Moslems fight Jews and kill them”, and sound strikingly similar to Adolf Hitler’s speech at the Reichstag in January 1939 in which he spoke of “the annihilation of the Jewish race throughout Europe.” So much for the Muslim Brotherhood having “eschewed violence”!
Given the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood is likely to assume a significant role in any future Egyptian government should democratic elections be held there, it is hardly surprising than many Israelis are more than a little concerned about what the future of our relations with Egypt might hold.