ANALYSIS: U.S. Muslim Brotherhood Leader Exemplifies Brotherhood Rhetorical Tactics


In a recent article Loui Safi, a long-time leader in many U.S. Muslim Brotherhood organizations, attempts to turn the tables on critics by suggesting that they are bigots who “hide behind the language of patriotism” and who are attempting to curtail civil liberties in the U.S. Safi begins the piece by summarizing such practices and identifying Joseph McCarthy as an exemplar:

Civil liberties are always precious for free people, but particularly so during times of turbulence when the future seems uncertainty and society struggles to gain its balance and move in the right direction. These are, sadly, times when opportunists try to advance their fortune without regard to other people’s rights, bigots hide behind the language of patriotism, and freedom is curtailed in the name of security. It is under such conditions that civil liberties and the right to dissent become exceedingly important, as free and open debate becomes essential for pursuing the best course of action.Yet bigots, racists, and zealots have always tried to pursue their narrow agenda during the time of war and conflict by exploiting fear and hiding behind patriotic rhetoric. The last time zealots used foreign threats to silence defenders of human rights and critics of foreign policy was during the fifties, when the a junior congressman with the name of Joseph McCarthy used his position and exploited national fear and anxiety to attack his ideological opponents. McCarthy confused dissent with disloyalty, and claimed to defend freedom abroad as he was undermining it at home.

Safi then tries to label critics of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood as McCarthyists who accuse Brotherhood organizations such as the Islamic Society of North America of being supporters of terrorism by painting such organizations as defenders of civil rights:

The neo-conservative pundits, who lead a smear campaign with the aim to marginalize Muslim Americans, read from McCarthy’s manual. They have repeatedly painted Muslim Americans critical of their inhumane and exploitative foreign policy agenda as disloyal. They most recently chided Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England for attending the annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) in 2006 and for inviting ISNA officers to visit the Pentagon. They have accused ISNA, and every other Muslim American organization of repute, of being sympathetic to terrorism for the sheer fact that these organizations have been critical of human rights violations by friendly foreign countries, including Israel, and have defend the civil rights of minorities under occupation, including the Palestinians.

After assailing critics such as the Center for Security Policy and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy, Safi goes on to say that these and other such organizations are actually motivated by the concerns expressed for the Palestinians:

Members of the Muslim American community, including main stream Muslim organizations and leaders, have come under concerted and intense attacks by neo-conservative organizations because they have expressed concerns about the dire conditions of Palestinians under occupation. Although these organizations have been subject to close scrutiny by government agencies, and have not been implicated in any violation of anti-terrorism statutes, neo-conservative pundits and organizations continue to use innuendo, spin, haft truths, and unfounded accusations to cast shadows of doubt on their loyalty and their commitment to the rules of law, and to isolate them and to cut them off of political debate.

Safi then reviews the recent alliance of ISNA with the Union of Reform Judaism which has been criticized by what Safi calls “Muslim bashers.” Safi then suggests that if the “far right in general, and the neo-conservative network in particular” is attempting to stifle debate on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and, if successful, will undermine freedom in the U.S.:

The far right in general, and the neo-conservative network in particular, is likely to continue on their quest to silence the Muslim community and to prevent Muslims to engage in an urgently needed national debate on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But these efforts can succeed only at the expense of America’s democracy, and America’s ability to engage in national discussion, essential for developing the right policies for America’s welfare and for world peace. If these undemocratic efforts are allowed to continue, they will not only lead to further isolate the United States and undermine its credibility as a society of equal rights and due process, but they will eventually undermine freedom at home.

Safi concludes by invoking those who opposed McCarthy and lauds American leaders who are said to be fighting an attempt to “marginalize and silence” Muslims:

McCarthy, who exploited the Cold War’s uncertainties to persecute his ideological opponents, was defeated because courageous Americans like Edward Murrow, George H. Bender, Joseph Nye Welch, and others spoke in opposition of his witch hunt campaign against patriot Americans. Muslim bashers, who exploit the War on Terrorism to persecute Muslim Americans, will be stopped when more American leaders, like Eric Yoffie, reject their ploys to marginalize and silence Muslims, and speak out loudly against their divisive and deceptive voices that would only undermine our freedom and democracy. It is imperative that American leaders speak out against bigoted voices that attack Islam and Muslims. We should all recall with pride the words of Edward Murrow, which are as true today as they were fifty years ago. We need only replace the phrase “Senator McCarthy” with “neo-conservative pundits.” “This is no time for men who oppose Senator McCarthy’s methods to keep silent—or for those who approve…We proclaim ourselves, as indeed we are, the defenders of freedom—what’s left of it—but we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.”

It would be difficult to find a better example of how the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood attempts to portray itself and discredit its critics. It take no small of amount of hubris for those supporting fundamentalist Islamic organizations to portray themselves as defenders of civil rights in the U.S. Furthermore, to suggest that criticism of U.S. Brotherhood organizations such as ISNA are motivated by their professed concern for Palestinians is to ignore their long, documented support for terrorism which, in general, includes links to terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, support of fund-raising efforts on behalf of such organizations, defense of individuals accused and/or convicted of terrorist offenses, and a history of hindering U.S. counter-terror efforts by misleading statements about Jihad and Islamism in general. In the end, by use of the term “neo-conservative” and constant reference to the Palestinians, the underlying suggestion is that it is the Jewish community and its sympathizers that are behind the attempt to “marginalize and silence” American Muslims. This is consistent with the long-held position of the U.S. Brotherhood in this regard. Rather than critics of the U.S. Brotherhood attempting to divide Americans, the implication that the Jewish community is behind the criticism of the Brotherhood in the U.S. would seem to be an attempt at promoting divisiveness. In the end, the accusations that Safi levels at his critics are precisely what the U.S. Brotherhood is guilty of itself.

According to an online bio:

Born in Damascus, Dr. Louay M. Safi … is the Director of Research at the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), Vice President of the Association of Muslim Social Scientist (AMSS), President of the Center for Balanced Development (CBD), Editor of the Journal of Islamic Social Sciences (AJISS), and a Founding Member and Director of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID). He served as the the Executive Director of the International Institute of Islamic Thought in Malaysia from 1995 to 1997, and was also an Associate Professor of Political Science (1994-99), the Dean of Research (1998-99), and a Senate Member (1995-99) at the International Islamic University, Malaysia.

All of the above organizations are known to be part of the global Muslim Brotherhood network.

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