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Logo Muslim Brotherhood

By Barry Rubin

Remember when we were told that the Muslim Brotherhood was moderate and weak? Why it was so benign that the Brotherhood had even promised only to contest one-third of the seats. And a revolutionary Islamist, antisemitic and genocide-oriented, anti-American, anti-Western, and anti-Christian organization would never lie to us, right?

I mean you can call for all of the Jews in the world to be wiped out; demand a jihad against America; and work day and night for decades to bring to power a totalitarian Islamist state that would chop off limbs, stone people, and murder anyone who didn’t want to be a Muslim any more. But you would never, ever deceive an American reporter!

Like Marx’s famous remark opening the Communist Manifesto, the Islamists disdain to conceal their aims, but only in Arabic. English is another matter altogether.

But now the Brotherhood’s new Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) has held its opening meeting and the group’s highest body announces that it will run candidates in 45 to 50 percent of the seats for September’s parliamentary elections.

The party’s chiefs are all top Muslim Brotherhood leaders.

I am still being told by people that the Brotherhood is severely factionalized and full of moderate tendencies. No proof is offered for these assertions. Unless we see public criticism of Brotherhood policy or leadership, or a split away from the group, such claims can be discounted.

Others continue to insist that the fact that the Brotherhood has not explicitly called for an Islamist state or publicly adopted a program shows that there is a heated debate within the group. In fact, of course, the Brotherhood has been cautious for tactical reasons but hardline statements keep coming out of top leaders.

In short, such hopes are based on whistling in the dark, grasping at straws, wishful thinking, and other such expressions. Once again, let me make it clear that I don’t think the Brotherhood will win the election or take over Egypt in the next two years. My expectation is that they will do very well in the election, have a key role in writing the new constitution, get concessions from the next president, and await their chance as Egypt inevitably crumbles economically and public dissatisfaction rises.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal, and a featured columnist for PajamasMedia at His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is His PajamaMedia columns are mirrored and other articles available at
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