Thu, Feb 09, 2012 | RubinReports | By Barry Rubin
Since we can’t get good coverage of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in the Western media, it’s necessary to turn to the Islamists’ intended victims — Arab liberals — to get a better picture. NowLebanon explains it all to you in an article on what it calls the “media blitz” of the Muslim Brotherhood and its politicians in the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP):
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood has been displaying great skill in handling the media over the past year. Since the revolution last January and the party’s electoral success in the recent round of polls in the country, the Brotherhood’s media outlets have tirelessly tried to project an image of moderation. But many secularists and leftists remain suspicious.
The problem is that it has had the full cooperation of the Western media and governments in selling itself as moderate. Here are the NowLebanon talking points:
— “‘The Brotherhood is very savvy and clever when it comes to the media, and they know their audience very well. They certainly have very good media advisors,’ says Khaled Fahmy, professor of History at the American University in Cairo.”
— “The Brotherhood has set up a TV channel and a newspaper, and both it and the FJP have been keeping daily-updated websites in English and Arabic.”
— “Their Twitter page, Ikhwanweb, has almost 8,500 followers. The managers of the account regularly engage their followers in lively discussions, and the FJP is the only party in Egypt that has its own smartphone App.”
— “‘They show a high degree of sophistication,’ says Said Sadek, a political analyst in Cairo.”
— “Sadek, along with other liberal and leftist commentators in Egypt, believe that the Brotherhood’s efforts aim at concealing their real intentions. `The Brotherhood and the FJP are trying to appease the growing fears of an Islamist takeover. They want to appear liberal. But what they are saying is just lip service,’ [Sadek] says.”
— “‘The Brotherhood [speaks with] two tongues. … To the international community they talk like the Gulf States. But to their own members they send a different message,’ says Sadek.”
— “Senior leader of the Brotherhood Essam El-Erian recently said in an interview with the New York Times that the Camp David Accords are a ‘commitment of the state, not a group or a party, and this we respect.’ But other members of the Brotherhood said that there are parts of the treaty that will be revised, while still others have called for a national referendum on the pact. The peace treaty is widely unpopular in Egypt and would probably fail in a public referendum.”
— “The chairman of the Brotherhood, Mohammed Badi…said that after the elections his group got closer to establishing a ‘rightly guided caliphate.’ After newspaper commentaries used Badi’s statement to say that the Brotherhood wants to create a fundamentalist state, FJP spokesmen rushed forward to counter. Instead, they claimed that Badi was talking about something more in line with an economic union, like in Europe.”
In other words, while the Brotherhood’s rhetoric is fooling the West, it is scaring local liberals and Egyptian Christians even more as they observe the double talk. They know that what is said in Arabic is what really counts.
Here is a good article on Kuwait’s election. The Islamists got 48 percent and the liberals were flattened, but it’s different from other countries because of a corruption scandal and a complex tribal situation. Here’s the point I found fascinating: the royal family is allied with the liberals in opposing Sharia law.
A good article on a whistle-blowing colonel who insists — accurately, I think — that the U.S. forces are not really winning in Afghanistan. Published to its credit by the New York Times.
And a great op-ed in the Washington Post by the leader of Turkey’s opposition on how the regime is turning the country into a police state.