This is a cross-post from Just Journalism.
Top story on the BBC News website’s Middle East section removes profile of controversial Islamist organisation that described it as anti-violence and pro-democracy.
The top story on the BBC News website’s Middle East section this morning, ‘Egypt protests escalate in Cairo, Suez and other cities,’ contained numerous references to the Muslim Brotherhood, widely regarded as the largest single opposition group in Egypt. Aside from describing them as a ‘banned, Islamist’ organisation, there is no further information on the group in the main text. However, the following info-box appeared alongside the article, titled, ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ , listing key facts:
- Egypt’s oldest and largest Islamist organisation
- Founded by Hassan al-Banna in 1928
- Has influenced Islamist movements worldwide
- Mixes political activism with charity work
- Banned from open political activity
- Rejects use of violence and supports democratic principles
- Wants to see the country governed according to Islamic law
- Slogan: “Islam is the Solution”
The info box, which has now been removed, offered a very sanitised profile of the group, in particular ignoring fears that despite public pronouncements to the contrary, it still harbours the desire to implement a totalitarian Islamist society, in line with its local offshoot, Hamas.
While the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has in recent years disavowed the use of force for political ends, there is still considerable evidence that it has a violent, intolerant ideology. For example, following a 2006 court ruling that Baha’i citizens of Egypt could have Baha’i printed on their identity cards, the Brotherhood called for the minority to be killed. An article published in ‘Current Trends in Islamist Ideology vol. 4’ noted:
‘the Brotherhood reacted with outrage. In the May 3, 2006 parliamentary debate on the ruling, MB deputies said that the Baha’is were apostates who should be killed. Quoting a hadith attributed to the Prophet Mohammed to support their position, they declared that they would draft a law making Baha’ism a crime and branding the Baha’is apostates.’
The Muslim Brotherhood’s website reveals that it also shares the rejectionist line of Hamas, which believes that Israel should be destroyed. Indeed, Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine, as acknowledged in Article Two of theirCharter:
‘The Islamic Resistance Movement [Hamas] is one of the wings of Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine. Muslim Brotherhood Movement is a universal organization which constitutes the largest Islamic movement in modern times. It is characterised by its deep understanding, accurate comprehension and its complete embrace of all Islamic concepts of all aspects of life, culture, creed, politics, economics, education, society, justice and judgement, the spreading of Islam, education, art, information, science of the occult and conversion to Islam.’
An article on the official Muslim Brotherhood English website from 2007 confirms the organisation’s commitment to jihad in Palestine:
‘Al Banna’s [Muslim Brotherhood founder] thought expressed an early and advanced state of maturity in the dialectics of the relation between the project of the Islamic revival and the liberation of Palestine, as he saw that solving the Palestinian cause will be with [sic] through the paralleled lines of unity and jihad.’
Similarly, the website features an editorial from 2006 praising spiritual founder of Hamas Sheikh Ahmed Yassin as an ‘exceptional human being and charismatic leader’ as well as justifying suicide bombings against civilians:
‘Ahmed Yassin was not a terrorist. The only people he terrorized were the enemies of his stolen land, the killers who slaughtered women and children, the perpetrators of Deer Yassin and the Sabra & Shatilla massacres…Opponents of Ahmed Yassin accuse him of being the mastermind of Palestinian terror, promising “suicide bombers” the achievement of martyrdom if they were willing to die for the sake of the dignity of Palestinians and in view of a longer-term victory against [sic] their occupiers. They consider blowing up an enemy with an explosive belt strapped to the body terrorism because it is the only weapon available.’