An Ill Season
The Arab spring unleashes Islamists on Egyptian Christians.


Andrew C. McCarthy

The most ruefully amusing part of the coverage is the water the media dutifully carries for the Obama administration’s campaign to airbrush the Muslim Brotherhood — setting the stage to present the Brothers’ catastrophic accession as a success in the march toward the end of history. In the Post story, the words “Muslim Brotherhood” are nowhere to be found. The “clash,” you are to understand, is the handiwork of the “Salafists.” These, according to the Post, are “a faction of ultraconservative Muslims [who] have become increasingly visible in recent months.” Really? And why would that be? The Post suggests it could be that the “Salafists” are “seeking to boost their standing ahead of elections, scheduled for this fall, by fomenting religious tension.”

Gee, they sound just like the Muslim Brotherhood. But no, couldn’t be. The Journal is even more adamant on that point. Not content to ignore the Brothers’ hands in all this, its news story is an explicit argument that the Brotherhood and the “Salafis” are two very different camps. The Salafis are depicted as the hardliners, emerging from the shadows since “spring” began, and now “implicated in a series of attacks against Christians.” The Brotherhood, by contrast, is the “more moderate” faction — a “discrete political and religious institution” that “condemned the violence.” Sure, they share “a few common political goals, such as the desire to see Sharia law incorporated into the Egyptian legal system,” but you must understand that “the Salafists’ fundamentalist outlook is distinct from the Brotherhood’s merely conservative ideology.” Got that? In fact, “strict Salafis consider more moderate Islamists, such as the Brotherhood, as ‘innovators’ whose practice of the faith includes new or foreign concepts that were introduced into the religion long after the Prophet’s death.”

Hooey. The Muslim Brothers are Salafists. As I detail in The Grand Jihad, the Brotherhood rigorously hews to the Salafist ideology of its founder, Hassan al-Banna. It is a retro-reformist movement that seeks to return to the Islam of Mohammed and the first generations of Muslims — the Salafiyyah (a term derived from al-Salaf al-Salih, the Righteous Companions: Mohammed and the first “rightly guided” caliphs). This is the Islam the Brotherhood seeks to impose on the world, through implementation of Islam’s legal and political system, sharia. The goal of the Salafists is “shared” with the Brotherhood precisely because the Brotherhood and the Salafists are one, as their just-announced electoral pact suggests. What is that goal? Contrary to the Journal’s claim, sharia already is incorporated in the Egyptian legal system: The goal is to make sharia the only law of Egypt, just as it is the only law of Saudi Arabia and Iran. It is the goal of the Brotherhood in all of the scores of countries in which it operates: gradually implement sharia, enclave by enclave, country by country, until a global caliphate is established.

The Brothers have been playing this game for decades: stoking violence but distancing themselves when the violence breaks out; condemning “terrorism” but glorifying “resistance”; feigning a commitment to regular politics but forming Hamas; decrying Osama bin Laden’s attacks on civilians but — when speaking to Arabic audiences — praising bin Laden as a heroic mujahid, a warrior in Allah’s jihad against the oppressors. Yet, when the Obama administration hears the Brothers’ motto — “Allah is our objective, the Prophet is our leader, the Koran is our law, jihad is our way, and dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope. Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!” — it thinks: “largely secular”!

This spring, we’re having a clash with reality.


 Andrew C. McCarthy, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, is the author, most recently, of The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America.