The True Nature of the Muslim Brotherhood (Not to Mention Hamas)

Eric Trager, the man who knows more about the Egyptian opposition movement than any person I know, including members of the Egyptian opposition movement themselves, hopes against hope that the Muslim Brotherhood's reaction to the killing of Osama Bin Laden means that we can finally stop talking about the group's ostensible moderation:

The Muslim Brotherhood's response to bin Laden's death may finally end the mythology -- espoused frequently in the U.S. -- that the organization is moderate or, at the very least, could moderate once in power. This is, after all, precisely how Muslim Brothers describe their creed -- "moderate," as opposed to al-Qaeda, which is radical. "Moderate Islam means not using violence, denouncing terrorism, and not working with jihadists," said Muslim Brotherhood youth activist Khaled Hamza, for whom the organization's embrace of "moderate Islam" was the primary reason he joined.

Yet the Muslim Brotherhood's promise that its "moderation" means rejecting violence includes a gaping exception: the organization endorses violence against military occupations, which its leaders have told me include Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Bosnia, and Palestine -- in other words, nearly every major conflict on the Eurasian continent. "I never fought in Afghanistan," Mehdi Akef, the former Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, told me in January, just before the revolt. "But I encouraged them and sent money to Bosnia and Palestine until now." Muslim Brotherhood leaders have endorsed attacks on Israeli civilians as an exception to their no-violence-except-against-occupation exception, viewing all of Israel as an occupation. "Zionism is gangs," said Akef. "It's not a country. So we will resist them until they don't have a country."
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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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