The New York Times and the Muslim Brotherhood

The New York Times and the Muslim Brotherhood

Credit: Reuters

Originally publish on nervana1.org

On February 9, The New York Times (NYT) published an editorial titled “All of Islam Isn’t the Enemy.” The article suggests that an order issued by the American President, Donald Trump, designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, would “be seen by many Muslims as another attempt to vilify adherents of Islam.” The article then argues that the Muslim Brotherhood is not a terrorist group, and, based on this one analysis, it claims “there is no evidence that senior Brotherhood leaders ordered any violence or carried out any of the recent major terrorist attacks in Egypt.”

As a devout practicing Muslim, I find the editorial troubling, to say the least. It not only desperately defends a secretive group like the Muslim Brotherhood; it also asserts, without sound evidence, that the Brotherhood is a representative of adherents of Islam – an assertion that is fundamentally flawed. It is unfortunate that such a prestigious American publication as the New York Times has adopted this shallow and biased approach toward a very complex topic.

The parent Muslim Brotherhood group and all other movements, parties, and associations formally or informally linked to it, represent only themselves; they do not, by any stretch of the imagination, represent the billion Muslims around the globe. There are millions of pious Muslims who adhere peacefully and faithfully to the precepts of Islam, and who do not subscribe to political Islam. In fact, many consider the Brotherhood to be a secretive, cultish group that has hijacked their religion and ultimately paved the way for more radical groups such as Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (ISIS).

It is baffling to see the New York Times, among others, defend a group that still uses two swords as part of its logo (on its Arabic sites), refuses to disown the intellectual godfather  of radical Islam, Sayed Qutb and declines to fire any of its members who flirt with violence in Arabic posts, then condemn it in English ones.

The New York Times editorial is an unfortunate example of the current polarization in American politics that is using Islam as a weapon in their infighting. While the new Trump administration opts to brand all Muslims as potential terrorists, many liberal elite blur the difference between Islam and Islamism, and falsely portray groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood as representative of pious Muslims.

Both camps are wrong. Islam is much, much bigger than a group like the Brotherhood. The New York Times’ editorial board has clearly not been following the discourse on the Brotherhood closely, particularly during the past three years. The group has lost its popularity among millions of Muslims and is divided internally into subgroups fighting among themselves about vision and an approach for the future. The analysis cited by the New York Times was written by Nathan Brown and Michele Dunne of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. I respect both authors but I disagree with their analysis, which ironically acknowledges that “there are reports that some of the small groups that have carried out attacks on Egyptian police stations and infrastructure may have young Brotherhood members among them.” Even Tunisia’s Ennahda Party has opted to distance itself from Islamism and label itself as “a Muslim Democratic movement.”

America needs a new centrist approach to terrorism that abandons the current platitudinous attitudes toward Islam and Muslims – an approach that stops glamorizing Islamism and demonizing Muslims, a realistic approach that defines and rejects the ideology that sanctions violence. Such a complex task is indeed not easy; nonetheless, defending an opaque and mercurial group like the Muslim Brotherhood is certainly not the way to achieve this.

The New York Times in its defence of the Muslim Brotherhood, could be likened to a lawyer who bases his defense on improper legal procedures rather than the client’s actual guilt. Moreover, the Times has no right to equate the Brotherhood with Islam and use the faith of millions of non-Brotherhood Muslims as a pawn in the newspaper’s battle against the Trump administration.

Cairo Confessions: Girls and the Hell of Premarital Physical Intimacy in Egypt
How Did Trump's Muslim Ban Affect Egyptians

Subscribe to our newsletter


Doctor, Commentator and Writer on Middle East Issues. Blog http://nervana1.org

More in Opinion

Can Culture Have an Impact on Egypt’s Economic Development?

Mirna AbdulaalNovember 17, 2018

Egypt’s Problem With Colour

Mohamed KhairatNovember 14, 2018

The Case Against Journalism Anonymity: Kill Mystery for Truth

Sara AhmedNovember 2, 2018

Unapologetically Sexist Ads: “Anyone Can Drive a Man’s Car” But Not Women

Nour EltiganiOctober 18, 2018

From Cairo to Cape: On Racial and Social Inequality Across the Continent

Deena SabryOctober 17, 2018

Is Social Media Making Egyptian Youth Less Productive?

Mirna AbdulaalOctober 12, 2018

East-West ChitChat: Trump gave Jerusalem to Israel. He Should now give Palestinians a State.

East West ChitchatOctober 4, 2018

“Congratulations, You Are Now A Woman,” But Don’t Let Anyone Know

Nour EltiganiSeptember 17, 2018
Egyptian Streets is an independent, young, and grass roots news media organization aimed at providing readers with an alternate depiction of events that occur on Egyptian and Middle Eastern streets, and to establish an engaging social platform for readers to discover and discuss the various issues that impact the region.

© 2017 Egyptian Streets. All Rights Reserved.