Al-Jazzera recently aired a program on the Muslim Brotherhood titled “Empire” which revealed several interesting items including a statement by a Muslim Brotherhood spokesman on the global presence of the Muslim Brotherhood, a recent Hamas/Muslim Brotherhood conference in Turkey, and a statement by a UK Muslim Brotherhood leader and Hamas spokesman that he does not believe in “liberal democracy.” During the program:
1. Kemal El-Helbawy, a Muslim Brotherhood spokesman living in the UK said during the program that “I hope you will believe that the Muslim Brotherhood are spreading in eighty countries (time 4:34). Previous posts have discussed claims by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood that the Global Muslim Brotherhood is a “Hollywood fiction.” Despite these denials, Muslim Brotherhood leaders have consistently issued statements about their global operations which indeed support the notion of a Global Muslim Brotherhood.
2. Gilles Keppel, a well known French expert on Islamist movements, said that when he was recently in the Gaza Strip, “strip most of the Hamas people I was to meet there had gone on a seminar to Turkey to sort of discuss with others the strategies of the Brothers for the future and how to cope with this big changes that they had not expected (time 9:08). The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) has recently published a report titled “Turkey, the Global Muslim Brotherhood, and the Gaza Flotilla” which documents the increasing importance of Turkey as a center for both Hamas and the Global Muslim Brotherhood.
3. UK Muslim Brotherhood leader and Hamas spokesman Azzam Tamimi made the following statements harshly critical of liberal democracy (time 14:05):
We shouldn’t judge the Muslim Brotherhood or any other Islamic movement according to liberal standards. I as a Muslim don’t give a damn about liberalism or what Westerners want to see in our societies. What really matters to me is what I want to see in our society. Whether it has to do with women or who heads the state or whatever, this is something that we decide for ourselves on the basis of our understanding of our values, of our religion and on the basis of the needs of our peoplel and therefore I would not consider liberal democracy as the standard against which I would measure the progress or regress of the Ikhwan.
Interviewer: what about gender equality?
That is again a cultural issue. The West talks a lot about gender equality and it’s a mirage, it doesn’ really exist in reality; there is no such thing as absolute equality and it should be left to us, the Muslims in our own societies to decide how we want to gvoern ourselves and not to according to the whims and desires of liberal democratic thinkers in the West.
Later, when asked about democracy itself, Tamimi replied:
Democracy as understand by Islamic movements especially the Muslim Brotherhood is to do with governance and accountability. It’s not do do with moral values because these derive from Islam. When Hamas had an opportunity to participate in elections, it played the game according ot the rules available… it won the vote but then if had its own way, it would push through democractic means for its own vision of what it believes society should be like. Simiarly the same thing will happen in Egypt, will happen in Morocco, will happen anywhere in the world. I think soemtimes when people talk about democracy, there is a confusion between the procedural aspects of democracy and the ideological underpinning which in the Western traditions comes from secularism and secularism in Islam is completely incompatible with Islamic thinking (time 18:10).
Previous posts have reported on the Islamization of Gaza under Hamas rule.