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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