A long article goes through the Muslim Brotherhood point by point and attempts to paint a better picture of what is undoubtedly a complex organisation.
The article asks if the Brotherhood are democrats, “Long before the Jan. 25 revolution that ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, many academics and policymakers argued that his main adversary — the Muslim Brotherhood — had made its peace with democracy. This was based on the assumption that, since the Muslim Brotherhood participated in virtually every election under Mubarak, it was committed to the rule of the people as a matter of principle”. He goes on to add that “since the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, Mohamed Morsi, was elected president in June, the exact opposite has been true. The Brotherhood’s only real ‘consultation’ has been with the Egyptian military, which the Brotherhood persuaded to leave power by ceding substantial autonomy to it under the new constitution. Among other undemocratic provisions, this backroom deal yielded constitutional protection for the military’s separate court system, under which civilians can be prosecuted for the vague crime of ‘damaging the armed forces.’ Meanwhile, the Brotherhood has embraced many of the Mubarak regime’s autocratic excesses: Editors who are critical of the Brotherhood have lost their jobs, and more journalists have been prosecuted for insulting the president during Morsy’s six months in office than during Mubarak’s 30-year reign”. He goes on to cite Morsi’s decree grabbing power to the worry of the region and beyond.
He goes on to make the point “While it is certainly true that Muslim Brothers, like America’s Christian evangelicals, are religious people, the Brotherhood’s religiosity isn’t its most salient feature. Whereas Christian evangelicals (as well as devout Catholics, orthodox Jews, committed Hindus, and so on) are primarily defined by their piety, the Muslim Brotherhood is first and foremost a political organisation”. He adds that “The Brotherhood achieves this internal uniformity by subjecting its members to a rigorous five- to eight-year process of internal promotion, during which time a rising Muslim Brother ascends through four membership ranks before finally becoming a full-fledged “active brother.” At each level, Brothers are tested on their completion of a standardized Brotherhood curriculum, which emphasizes rote memorization of the Quran as well as the teachings of Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna and radical Brotherhood theorist Sayyid Qutb”. It was Qutb who influenced a young Egyptian cleric and medical doctor, Ayman al-Zawahiri who himself became a collaborator of bin Laden.
He adds later in the section that “By channeling deeply committed members through an institutionalized chain of command, the Brotherhood has discovered the key ingredients for winning elections in a country where practically everyone else is deeply divided. For this reason, it is extremely protective of its internal unity: Its current leaders have largely dodged ideological questions — such as explaining what ‘instituting the sharia [Islamic law]’ means in practice — to prevent fissures from emerging”.
The author then rejects, in some detail, the the Brotherhood are capitalists. There is concrete evidence to this, notably Morsi’s power grab and constitutional “tinkering” while at the same time doing nothing to fix the ailing Egyptian economy or welcome much needed tourist money into the country.
He ends the piece arguing that the Brotherhood reject the Israel-Egyptian peace treaty, noting “the Muslim Brotherhood does aim to scrap the treaty, which simply cannot be reconciled with the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hatred in which every Muslim Brother is thoroughly indoctrinated. This vitriol was perhaps most apparent in Morsy’s now-infamous 2010 remarks, in which he called Jews ‘the descendants of apes and pigs.’ Even as president, Morsy’s blatant bigotry remains irrepressible: In a meeting with a U.S. Senate delegation in Cairo, Morsi implied that the U.S. media was controlled by the Jews. And while the Brotherhood’s apologists claim that these are idle words on which the movement won’t act, its leaders have repeatedly signaled the opposite. In recent months, the Brotherhood’s political party drafted legislation to unilaterally amend the treaty, a Brotherhood foreign policy official told a private salon that Morsy was working to ‘gradually’ end normalization with Israel, and Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie has twice called for Muslims to wage a ‘holy jihad’ to retake Jerusalem”.