US Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) Rashad Hussain has given an interview with the London-based Saudi daily Asharq Al-Awsat in which he expresses a number of opinions and viewpoints consistent with those of the Global Muslim Brotherhood. When asked about Israeli building in Jerusalem, Mr. Hussain immediately raises the issue of the Al-Aqsa mosque although it is not clear what what connection the mosque has to Israeli housing construction:
Q) Do you think the Israeli settlement building in Jerusalem complicates your mission to improve US relations with the Islamic world?
A) Of course, there are fears that any action or provocation will negatively affect feelings, and as a Muslim I know full well that the Al Aqsa Mosque was the first Qibla [direction in which Muslims pray]and is the third holiest site for Muslims and it is revered by Muslims. President Obama is committed to calming the situation in the city of Jerusalem, and finding solutions that are both acceptable to the Palestinians and the Israelis. There is also a clear position by the president to reject any settlement building in east Jerusalem, and there is a statement to this effect from the US administration, which has many ways to settle the conflict in the region that has lasted for 60 years. However, it is not easy for this to be settled overnight so we must bridge the differences between the conflicting parties. Over the last few days we have heard good news to the effect that indirect negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis have begun, so I think we are making progress in this regard, and we must not take a step backwards.
Previous posts have discussed the campaign conducted by the Global Muslim Brotherhood to foment unrest over the Al-Aqsa mosque.
Next, when asked about how the US will regain the confidence and trust of the Muslim people, Mr. Hussain replies that it is up to the US “to understand that Muslims reject issues like terrorism and extremism”:
Q) What kind of ideas is the US relying upon to regain the confidence and trust of the Muslim people? Do you believe that promoting cooperation between the US and the Islamic world will be enough to breathe new life into relations between the two sides?
A) Firstly, we are seeking to create a framework for cooperation with the Islamic world, and this cooperation will not be limited to one or two fields, but will include all fields. However it is up to the US to understand that Muslims reject issues like terrorism and extremism, and this is something that must be addressed politically and socially, although this may require more time due to the complexity of the political process. The US is working hard in Iraq and Afghanistan to create a stable reality, and we are also preparing a program of educational exchange with countries in the Middle East.
While Muslim Brotherhood organizations and leaders have generally issued statements of condemnation of terrorist incidents in the US and Europe, previous posts have discussed the elaborate ideology constructed by the Brotherhood to justify and defend terrorism. It should also be noted that the global Brotherhood generally endorses the notion of “Defensive Jihad” which justifies violent action where Muslim lives, land, or honor are deemed to be under attack. Such violent action, as that undertaken by Hamas, is not considered by the global Brotherhood to be terrorism. With respect to extremism, the global Brotherhood bases its political position on the desirability of Islamic rule, a position which most in the West would be considered extremist by definition.
For a short time, Mr. Hussain was embroiled in controversy after the GMBDW reported both his associations with the US Muslim Brotherhood and remarks that he had made in 2004 about the prosecution of convicted terrorist Sami Al-Arian that were later deleted from the publication that reported them. Mr. Hussain at first denied remembering that he had made the remarks calling the prosecution “politically motivated persecution” but later, after an audio tape surfaced documenting the remarks, he acknowledged the comments but said that they had been “ill advised.” Mr. Hussain also admitted that he had complained to the publication about being misrepresented after the remarks were first reported but that the publication had deleted them on their own volition. The remarks did not appear to have been deleted until after Mr. Hussain had been appointed White House Counsel. (for an analysis of these events, go here)
When asked during the interview about these remarks, Mr. Hussain neither retracts nor denies their substance:
Q) You studied law at Yale University, during which you criticized the prosecution of Sami Al-Arian, describing it as “politically motivated.” Do you think the American legal system unfairly links Islam and terrorism?
A) To be clear, I have no connection to such terror trials, and these cases are subject to the deliberations of the US courts. The US legal system is one of the best in the world and enjoys great confidence.