James Clapper issued a clarification last week. Within hours of testifying to Congress that the Muslim Brotherhood is a “largely secular” organization, he clarified that he had meant to say the Muslim Brotherhood is not a secular organization. Clapper, the Obama administration’s national intelligence director, did not clue us in on whether he’d been tipped off by the organization’s name or by its motto proclaiming devotion to Islam, Mohammed, the Koran, sharia, and jihad — the final term being one he may have missed thanks to ongoing government efforts to purge it from our lexicon.
If Mr. Clapper’s information was a tad off, his timing was even worse. And not just because even giddy Western pundits were occasionally pausing from their dance on Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak’s political grave to admit that the pharaoh’s demise could pave the way for a Brotherhood-led Islamist ascendancy.
What might an Islamist ascendency look like? Consider this: Shortly before Clapper’s faux pas, a ghastly report out of Bangladesh began making the rounds: A 14-year-old girl named Hena had been killed by fewer than 80 lashes of the 100-lash whipping local sharia authorities had ordered her to suffer. It’s difficult to contain one’s anger at the details. Hena had been raped by a 40-year-old Muslim man, described in news accounts as her “relative.” The allegation of rape got the authorities involved, but that turned out to be even worse than the sexual assault itself.
Under sharia, rape cannot be proved absent the testimony of four witnesses. Rapists tend not to bring witnesses along for their attacks. In any event, moreover, sharia values a woman’s testimony as only half that of a man, so the deck is stacked and rape cannot be proved in most cases. Yet that hardly means the report of rape is of no consequence. Unable to establish that she’d been forcibly violated, the teenager became in the eyes of the sharia court a woman who’d had sexual intercourse outside of marriage. Thus the draconian lashing sentence that became a death sentence.
What has that to do with the Muslim Brotherhood? It turns out that these not-so-secular “moderates” spend a great deal of time ruminating on the subject of sharia’s brutal huddud laws — those prescribing sadistic penalties, such as whippings and stoning, for extramarital fornication, adultery, and homosexuality.
The Brotherhood’s emir for such ruminations is the famed Egyptian sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a sharia scholar who graduated from the storied al-Azhar University. He is probably the ummah’s most influential Islamic cleric — just ask such admirers as Ground Zero mosque imam Feisal Rauf. Qaradawi is sold as a Muslim modernizer by his many Western fans, particularly the Islamic-studies programs that the Saudis, longtime patrons of the Muslim Brotherhood, pay institutions like Georgetown University to operate. What the academy avoids telling you is that the sheikh, who has endorsed suicide bombings in Israel and the killing of American troops and support personnel in Iraq, also supports female genital mutilation (euphemistically called “circumcision”) as well as sharia standards that discount a woman’s testimony, limit a woman’s inheritance rights to half of a man’s share, and permit men to marry up to four wives (who may, of course, be beaten if they are disobedient).