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The Moderation of the Muslim Brotherhood
First: An editorial Note: This site has been under concerted spam attacks in recent days. In eliminating the spam I inadvertently erased some legitimate and thoughtful comments. My apologies and please feel free to re-post.

The United States and most of Europe has maintained what can be called, at best, an ambivalent policy toward the international Muslim Brotherhood, often arguing that leaders of the _Ikwan_ are, in fact moderates who want a dialogue with the West.

But the Muslim Brotherhood's official website, if anyone in the policy-making world wanted to read it, tells a different story, in fairly clear English. This again is not a hidden site, but the official site of the Brotherhood, putting out its official positions.

What baffles me is that, if we listened to what they said, we could decide rationally how to deal with them: no contact, limited contact, contact based on the reality of what the MB says it is etc. Instead, we have an inconsistent policy of occassional contact and high-level contact with MB front groups that pretend to be what they are not. Since neither side is based in reality, little serious analysis can be done.

Here is just a sample of what the MB writes to its own, in English. I am told the Arabic is far harsher.

"To confront the Western and US domination, the Muslim Brotherhood thinks that fighting domination requires adopting several factors, including:
1- Spreading Islamic concepts that reject submission to humiliation, and incite to fighting it, and to be on to rise to support the oppressed.
2- Reviving the will of liberation and independence in the peoples, and sowing the spirit of resistance.
3- Supporting Hamas government with all spiritual and material and with experience; to spare the Palestinian people's need for Western countries which are biased against its freedom and interests.
4- Forming an international relation and a public opinion that fights injustice and seeks establishing rights, justice and peace in the world.
5- Activating the economic boycott against imperialist states, and also boycotting their cultural production.
6- Achieving political, economic and social internal reform, and removing the food and technological gaps with imperialist states.
7- Working on correcting the image of Islam among Westerners, and clarify the truth of our fair causes, and removing the deformed image about Islam and Muslims.
8- Spreading popular movements in Europe and South America opposing US domination."

And the site contains interesting political analysis. What is striking is the statement that the average Muslim has little if any personal stake in the current stuggle. But here it all is, in context.

"Unlike Al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood knows how to contest and win elections. While bin Laden and President Bush indulge in existential combat in which the average Muslim has little if any personal stake, the Brotherhood has been winning hearts and minds through assiduous and nonsectarian ward-heeling. While Bushism has wrought war, anarchy, occupation and the specter of the lethal Zionist-Crusader alliance that bin Laden warned of in the run up to 9/11, the Muslim Brotherhood salves some of the deprivations and inequities of ordinary life. It is what makes the group the hardest target yet in Bush's "war on terror," and the likely successor to the aging Mubarak."

This is the nut of what the MB is and its strategy: build a Muslim political structure to eventually dominate Europe and the United States, while not distancing itself from violence and more radical calls for action. One can build a policy around that, rather then the gibberish we are often told the _Ikwan_ says, based on no reading at all.
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