Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood: Defending the Prophet and US Aid

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An Egyptian protester standing amid a fog of tear gas prepares to throw stones towards policemen during a demonstration against a film mocking Islam in Cairo on 14 September 2012. (Photo: AFP - Mohammed AbdelMoneim)

By: Bisan Kassab

Published Monday, September 17, 2012

Cairo - “Insult anyone but never the Messenger of God,” was the main slogan raised in the protests staged by lslamists in Egypt in response to the “Innocence of Muslims” film that mocks the Prophet Mohammad.

The violence unleashed to disperse protesters when they tried to storm the American embassy in Cairo caused the first death by police bullets under elected President Mohammed Mursi. It showed that the former head of Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), had understood the danger of giving zealous Islamist youth free rein to champion their prophet as they saw fit.

The MB’s violent reaction to the protests is a mark of how pragmatic Mursi and the group’s ruling council, the Guidance Bureau, have become since they assumed power, according to sociology professor Saadeddin Ibrahim, who heads the Ibn Khaldoun Center think-tank and is close to the US administration. “The entire group is pledged to obedience, and this was reflected in the behavior of its members when they dissociated themselves from the protests at the American embassy and also stepped back from participating in the Friday demonstrations,” he told Al-Akhbar.

Ibrahim added that the only reason the country’s Salafi groups had not become similarly pragmatic was that they failed to attain power.

Leading Salafi figure Khaled al-Harbi, of the Hazemoun movement that supports the disqualified Salafi presidential candidate Hazem Abu-Ismail, criticized the MB’s response as inadequate.

“We view the reaction of the president of the republic and the Egyptian government to the crisis over the American film as insufficient,” he told Al-Akhbar. “The Egyptian government should demand that its American counterpart hand over the two accused Egyptian citizens, so they can be tried in Egypt, rather than taking legal action against them there, as was officially announced,” he said.

MB Guidance Bureau member Mustafa al-Ghunaimi argued that reactions to the film was “more than sufficient.” He explained: “It is enough that a clear message has been sent from the peoples of the Islamic world and reached the United States; namely, that these people do not accept insults to sanctities, especially Islamic sanctities.” He said he did not expect any deterioration in Egyptian-US relations to result from the affair.

Egypt’s official posture can be explained in terms of the country’s longstanding alliance with the United States and the American aid that underpins it.

US defense secretary Leon Panetta phoned his Egyptian opposite number Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, not surprising given that the Egyptian military receiving the lion’s share of the aid, around $1.3 billion out of an annual total of $1.5 billion.

The statement issued by an Egyptian military spokesman reporting the conversation gave the impression that all was well between the two sides. It said Sisi and Panetta “affirmed their condemnation of the film that insults the Prophet, and the depth strength of relations between the two countries.” It was also said that “the US defense secretary expressed his understanding of the anger felt on the Egyptian street, and conveyed the US administration’s gratitude for the security measures taken to protect the US diplomatic mission in Egypt.” The implication was that the US felt reassured about the safety of its staff.

Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama’s stressed to Mursi the need for Egypt to fully comply with its international obligations to safeguard America diplomatic premises and staff in cooperation with the US, and reportedly warned that relations would otherwise be seriously jeopardized.

For the Egyptian administration, more than military aid is at stake. While the US is only the tenth largest foreign investor in Egypt, it is the country’s second largest trading partner after the European Union, and a major source of imported grain.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

Comments

It is a fact that there is practically nowhere in the whole world where Muslims do not have full rights to practice their beliefs and to criticise opponents without threats of violence or imprisonment to themselves. However in almost all mulsim dominated countries Christians and Atheists are not given that same respect. In Egypt there is an atheist who has been imprisoned just for having a facebook page and posting the video about Mohamad. In KSA a man is on death row for twittering a comment about Islam not being true. Muslims are currently just big bullies in the world, demanding rights for themselves and giving none to anyone who disagrees with them. for that reason I sugges that all aid should be cut to countries that refuse to give all people rights under the Universal declaration of Human rights. Like it or not they must start to respect others.

This past week of demonstrations and violence in response to the video degrading the Islamic religion illustrates the cultural divide that has never seemed clearer. When Andres Serrano's "piss Christ" was exhibited, the crucifix set in a jar of the artists own urine, outrage was expressed and people were deeply offended. When Alexander Savko exhibited his painting of Jesus Christ with the head of Micky Mouse people were disgusted and again deeply offended. In the US no one burned and destroyed any vehicles or buildings, no one was killed, there was no violent hysteria, no bounty on anyones head. These were seriously offensive to many, many people and still are. The differences in the responses does not in any way mean one act is less offensive than the other. The eastern response to religious degradation would never be accepted and embracred in the US nor would its western response be accepted and embraced in the east. Our laws , cultures and beliefs dictate differences in the way we respond to ourselves and the world around us. How do you build a bridge over that divide? Our politicians and diplomats try smooth things over placating who they need to, but the reality is eastern and western core foundations won't crumble because politicians shake hands. Under the very broad umbrella of freedom speech it covers a multitude of very offensive expression and you can argue well that needs to be refined and changed, but the fact is that won't change. It is as far ingrained as the eastern response to the degradation of its religion. So where do we find the common ground, what is the solution?

Well yes!in France years ago , a film about Jesus by M. Scorcese, shoccked the Fondamentalis caqtholics who threatened
to put bombs in cinemas,was immediately taken off the programs.
Here in the Netherlands, a few months ago, after huge advertisements about "the Prophet" film, the rewiews where bad,
so the film disappeared after a week from the screens, and the the huge muslim community did not reacted at all.
I wonder why it was so widely sold sold to Muslims country. Just a vulgar provocation, I suppose
Poeple should learn not to go to watch Holliwood trash films.

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