New York: February 24, 2017

(Analysis by  Father Joseph Varghese, Executive Director, IRFT).

“I Am a Member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Not a Terrorist”. This was a caption on a piece appeared on the New York Times. 

This is an ongoing effort by the Muslim Brotherhood and their allys in the United States portraying the Brotherhood as a peace loving mainstream organization. They have powerful ally such as the New York Times and power brokers at the previous Obama administration to push for a new face to this terrorist organization. 

My recent visit to the region of El- Minaya of the upper Egypt told a different story of Muslim Brotherhood. Christians were taken away for ransom, looted the business, burn the churches and gun down the priests. ” We are living in a state of fear” said Al Hassan, Secretary of the National Council of Churches in Egypt. 

Christian leaders blame Muslim Brotherhood supporters for arson and other attacks, including shooting death of teenage girl

The New York Times this week continued its month-long campaign against designating the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization amid reports the Trump administration is debating the possibility of issuing an executive order making such a designation.

In the piece, Haddad whitewashed the Brotherhood as inspired by an “understanding of Islam that emphasizes the values of social justice, equality and the rule of law.”

The Times’ crusade culminated in the newspaper’s publication on Wednesday of an oped written from Egyptian prison by Gehad el-Haddad, the official spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood. The oped was splashed on the cover of Thursday’s international edition of the newspaper.

The Times article quoted Issandr El Amrani, an analyst at the International Crisis Group, warning that designating the Brotherhood a terrorist organization “could destabilize countries where anti-Islamist forces would be encouraged to double down. It would increase polarization.”

The Times advocacy this week on behalf of the Brotherhood is part of a larger lobbying effort that has in recent weeks included numerous pro-Brotherhood articles and an editorial board piece published earlier this month, “All of Islam Isn’t the Enemy.”

In the editorial, the newspaper warned designating the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization “would be seen by many Muslims as another attempt to vilify adherents of Islam.” The paper claimed that the possible designation “appears to be part of a mission by the president and his closest advisers to heighten fears by promoting a dangerously exaggerated vision of an America under siege by what they call radical Islam.”

In the nearly five years of turmoil that have followed the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, no group in Egypt has suffered more than the 15 million Coptic Christians. Both a religious and ethnic minority, the Copts are descended from the native population of Egypt who lived and ruled there from the time of the pharaohs until the Roman conquest in 31 B.C. They are the largest Christian community in the Middle East today.

Copts have long been the target of discrimination and persecution in the majority-Arab nation. But this ancient people faced a terrifying new prospect in 2012: Muslim Brotherhood rule.
After Mubarak was ousted, the violence began almost immediately. Churches and schools were burned; peaceful protestors were massacred. When parliamentary elections were held nine months later, they were swept by the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist parties. When Mohamed Morsi won the presidential election in May 2012, the party’s victory looked complete. The same year, Morsi gave himself unlimited powers and the party drafted a new constitution inspired by Sharia law.

Egypt’s Coptic Christians say fresh attacks have been carried out against churches in at least four parts of the country and that tensions between the majority Sunni Muslims and minority Christian sects are higher than for many decades.

Christian leaders have blamed supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood for the attacks, which are believed to have led to several deaths, including that of a teenage girl who was reportedly leaving Bible class in Cairo when she was shot dead. At least nine churches nationwide have been torched since early Wednesday. Community leaders say the number of arson attacks could be as high as 20. Three of the attacks are confirmed to have taken place in central Egypt.
The Coptic sect has largely remained staunchly behind the interim military-led government that ousted President Mohammed Morsi, a senior Brotherhood figure, six weeks ago. Coptics had vehemently opposed the Brotherhood’s troubled year in office, railing against many decisions the Morsi government made, which were deemed by many Christians to be in favour of hardline Islamists.