With their virulently Islamophobic rhetoric, the front-running Republican candidates are handing the US Muslim Brotherhood arguably their greatest public relations victory since we began the GMBDW in 2007. However, before we can address the substance of that assertion, we wish to be entire clear on what we mean by “Islamophobia.” There have been two lines of argument commonly used to claim that the phenomenon does not exist, the first that there is no such thing because it is not “phobic” to be fearful of Islam given the events in the world today. The GMBDW judges this no more valid than the argument used by Arab anti-Semites that they cannot be anti-Semitic because they themselves are Semites. These arguments are sophistry pure and simple as anti-Semitism has become simply the term used to refer to anti-Jewish prejudice just as Islamophobia has become the common term for anti-Muslim prejudice. Whether Islamophobia was the best descriptor for the phenomenon is beside the point and the GMBDW accepts the term for what it has come to mean. That said, one would have to willfully blind to deny that anti-Muslim prejudice is rampant and therefore that Islamophobia not only exists but is escalating on a daily basis. The second argument against Islamophobia is that is just a rhetorical tactic used to defend against legitimate criticism of Muslims or Islam. This argument is more insidious because while it is true that the term is often used in this manner, it is also true that that those advancing Islamophobic positions also often use this argument to defend themselves against the accurate characterization of their own groups and ideological leaders.. A case in point are the so-called “Anti-Shariah” or “Counterjihad” movements that while no doubt containing large numbers of well-meaning individuals who believe they are part of a legitimate cause, are led by individuals who over the years have been far less than scrupulously honest in the way that they have advanced their positions.
When the GMBDW Editor began his work on terrorism and Islamism shortly after 911, it was immediately clear that there was a global network of interrelated groups and individuals that we came to designate the Global Muslim Brotherhood. The GMBDW knows better than most how difficult it is to explain such a complex phenomenon as the Global Muslim Brotherhood, with their complex network of entities in multiple countries across the globe and we have taken our fair share of criticism from some quarters for even suggesting that such a thing exists. Our best guess is that other players in the arena, for reasons which only they can identify, hit upon the strategy of reducing this complexity to vastly oversimplified notions such that “Islam” contains within its doctrine the requirement that all non-believers be forcibly converted to Islam and that Islamic Law (Shariah) must be imposed on Western countries and their citizens. Because these same ideologues argue that there is no essential difference between Islam and the 20th century phenomenon of Islamism, the net result is to suggest that any believing Muslim is an enemy of the West prepared to engage in some form of hostile action whether it be political or violent in nature. It is not difficult to see how such notions could spin rapidly out of control and as long as two years ago, we heard a US Internet radio “security expert” suggest that citizens form neighborhood patrols to conduct surveillance operations against local mosques which were said to all be controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood and therefore the center of nefarious activity. Fast forward to the present and now we are hearing such rhetoric advanced by the front-running Republic candidates who, among other things, have suggested police patrols of Muslim neighborhoods and have engaged some of the leaders of the anti-Shariah movement as foreign policy advisors.
One of the best known of these advisors has been recently be widely criticized for what are said to be his “insane” conspiracy theories which have been identified by one publication as including the following:
- that Muslims are trying to impose Sharia (Islamic religious law) on America.
- that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the federal government and has called for a new version of the House Un-American Activities Committee, the inquisition into communism in the 1950s, to examine and “root out” its activities.
- that Obama “not only identifies with Muslims, but actually may still be one himself.”
- that Huma Abedin, an aide to Hillary Clinton who worked closely with the then-secretary of state, was connected to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Leaving out the patently absurd notion that President Obama is a secret Muslim, we have already addressed the first of these ideas, that “Muslims” are trying to impose Sharia law on America. However while we clearly take issue with the idea that “Muslims” as a group can be described as a monolithic block with uniform views and actions, we should not forget that the leaders of the Global Muslim Brotherhood very much hold to this view as typified by Youssef Qaradawi’s notorious 2007 statement where he predicted that Islam would peacefully conquer Europe in the future.
As far as the other two theories, we have already dealt with them in an earlier post titled “Once More Into The Breach; Has The Muslim Brotherhood Infiltrated The US Government?” As we noted in that post, although the GMBDW was the original source for information on most of these individuals, this information was later employed for less than savory ends:
More recently, an additional challenge has emerged, namely the use of GMBDW research to spin unsubstantiated and fanciful stories about the same networks we have so carefully tried to document. The most egregious example is the claim, since gone viral, that the Muslim Brotherhood has “infiltrated” the Obama administration. Stories based on this alleged infiltration typically feature rogues galleries of “Muslim Brotherhood operatives” said to be whispering in the ear of the Obama administration and aimed at causing the downfall of the United States. In most cases, the stories include high-profile individuals first identified by the GMBDW as tied to the Global Muslim Brotherhood using criteria we have long since publicly explained.
We refer readers to that post where we debunk the notion of such “infiltration” and provide an alternative explanation for the presence of these individuals in the US government but it is important to repeat our caution at the end that:
….there remains the pertinent issue of what influence, malign or otherwise, these individuals may have had on Obama Administration policy toward the Middle East or in other relevant policy arenas
In the case of Hilly Clinton aide Human Abedin, in 2010 the GMBDW was the first to expose her family’s ties to important Saudi Arabian Islamists. Subsequent posts further explored the Islamist ties of both her mother and brother. While be have seen no evidence that Huma Abedin herself has engaged in any improper behavior, we certainly agree with those who suggest that her family’s ties should at the very least been the subject matter of a proper background investigation for her State Department position.
In other words, while theories such as those listed above may be fanciful and extreme, they often contain more than a degree of truth which is why the GMBDW originally reported on them. That said, the degree to which the current Republican candidates and their advisors have espoused these theories only allows the US Muslim Brotherhood to discredit the information entirely which is why we opened this post citing what we labeled the great PR victory being handed to such groups such as the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). The GMBDW continues to believe it is possible to counter the Islamist ideologues of the Global Muslim Brotherhood without engaging in the kind of inflammatory, populist rhetoric that endangers hard working and loyal Muslim citizens and which allows the US Muslim Brotherhood to portray themselves as victims. We should remember that while groups such as those comprising the US Muslim Brotherhood routinely conflate criticism of them with criticism of Islam and Muslims in general, where evidence exists it suggest these groups do not represent the Muslim community generally despite their daily striving to be recognized as such. Therefore, it is critical that while we clearly and stridently condemn the Islamophobic rhetoric of the Republican candidates and their advisors, we also implore that the baby not be thrown out with the bathwater by refusing to examine whatever reality exists behind their claims.