Egypt and the Brotherhood
What next for the troubled country?

Erick Stakelbeck


LOPEZ: Would the world really be better off with Mubarak in power still?

STAKELBECK: Judging by how the last two and a half years have unfolded, I don’t think that there is any doubt. Egypt’s relationship with America would be stable, its peace treaty with Israel would be relatively solid, and the Brotherhood and other revolutionary Islamists and terrorists would be kept largely in check. Mubarak’s Egypt also provided a Sunni bulwark against Iran’s expansionist ambitions. Unless Egypt magically turns around over the next few months, even the most starry-eyed advocate for Middle East “democracy” may begin to pine for Mubarak’s return.

LOPEZ: Could your book be, in part, a Coptic plea to the world?

STAKELBECK: In many ways, yes. As the Obama administration was tripping over itself to embrace the Brotherhood in the wake of Mubarak’s ouster, Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority was frantically sounding the alarm to anyone who would listen about the threat posed by the MB. Sadly, their warnings were largely ignored. The Copts had been harassed and even killed by the Brotherhood and its acolytes for decades and knew the true, totalitarian face of the movement all too well. Things were already bad for the Copts under Mubarak and became practically intolerable under Morsi. Now the Copts are being scapegoated by Egypt’s Islamists for Morsi’s ouster and will be targeted even more fiercely in the weeks and months to come. In fact, the wholesale persecution of Christians across the Middle East by Islamists is one of the hallmarks of the so-called Arab Spring and no one is suffering more because of it than Egypt’s Copts.

LOPEZ: What does the Boston marathon have to do with anything going on in Egypt right now?

STAKELBECK: One of the first things I asked when it was revealed that the Tsarnaev brothers had indeed carried out the Boston bombings was this: Where did they go to mosque? We soon learned that the brothers attended the Islamic Society of Boston mosque in Cambridge, just a few blocks from their home. This has significance because both the Cambridge mosque and its sister mosque in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood are controlled by a group called the Muslim American Society (MAS). Federal prosecutors have identified MAS as “the overt arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in America.” So you do see the connection. What did they learn there? I think that is a fair question, given that Muslim Brotherhood ideology has spawned terror and mayhem for close to a century. As I document in the book, Brotherhood-linked organizations control a disturbing number of American mosques, and official MB strategy documents (which our own government has in its possession, by the way) call mosques, or Islamic centers, the “axis” of the MB movement, where “battalions are supplied.” Most Americans are probably unaware that the number of mosques in the United States has nearly doubled since the year 2000 alone. That is astounding. And I don’t believe it is by coincidence.

LOPEZ: Could there ever be conditions for an actual Arab Spring?

STAKELBECK: If we’re talking about the sweeping emergence of vibrant Middle Eastern democracies that reject strongman-type rulers and ensure rights for everyone, then, no (unless you count Israel, of course, which is a model democracy and beacon of light in a dark and chaotic corner of the world). For one, the history of the region from the dawn of time screams otherwise. Second, despite the jettisoning of Morsi in Egypt, moderate, cultural Muslims are currently on the run and fervent Islamists are on the rise across the Middle East and North Africa. For a true Arab Spring to have even a remote chance of happening, Islamism and jihadism would need to be completely repudiated by Muslim peoples. That has never happened in the 1,400 years of Islam’s existence, even with the unspeakable atrocities committed by al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, the Brotherhood, the Iranian regime, and their ilk being splashed across TV sets throughout the Muslim world every day. At the end of the day, though, it all boils down to one undeniable fact: Judeo-Christian, Western civilization is one of a kind in its promotion of tolerance, freedom, and human rights.

LOPEZ: Do you ever worry you sound overly alarmist? Particularly about domestic threats?

STAKELBECK: Never. As I document in The Brotherhood, I have a very unique perspective that others might lack when discussing these threats. I have traveled the world to interview Muslim Brotherhood figures and wanted Islamic terrorists face-to-face, been in radical mosques, interviewed radical imams, and strolled through some of Europe’s more restless Islamist enclaves. My on-the-ground perspectives, combined with the hard facts and developments on the ground (including, for example, dozens upon dozens of Islamic terror-related arrests on U.S. soil since 2009 alone), have led me to the unpleasant conclusion that if we don’t wake up as a society, ditch political correctness, and acknowledge the existence of a formidable Islamist enemy that is devoted to our destruction, we’ll suffer through more domestic carnage like we saw in Boston and at Fort Hood, and make increasingly disastrous foreign-policy decisions vis-à-vis the Muslim world that will get more Americans needlessly killed: both “over there” and over here. And that doesn’t just mean violent jihad. The Muslim Brotherhood’s own strategic documents say the MB’s goal is to “destroy Western civilization from within.” Slow and steady.

— Kathryn Jean Lopez is editor-at-large of National Review Online.