Abu Ismael’s Mother

The whole controversy about Hazem Abu Ismael’s mother and her American citizenship is viewed from a purely tactical political angle. But in fact there is another more important aspect to it, one that will persist well past Abu Ismael’s farcical candidacy.  This is of course the fact that the US has a significant number of Muslim citizens, some of whom are openly Salafi while living a free and unmolested life. There is no point dragging the phrase “cognitive dissonance” into this. What ought to be obvious to Islamist politicians, but is willfully ignored, is that their behavior in power will have a large and profound effect on American attitudes toward Muslims.  One of the major effect of the 2011 Egyptian revolution was to show Muslims in a positive light in the US, after years of grainy mug shots of terrorist suspects.  The Muslim Brotherhood delegation visit to the US could have been a good opportunity to build on that.  Frankly they bombed.

First there were issues of exactly who was on the delegation. It was neither fish nor fowl. It was a mixture of FJP MPs and MB propagandists. They could never be viewed as solely politicians nor as members of a religious organization. It clearly put them at a disadvantage. There was also the manner in which they never seemed to answer questions directly and the occasionally fact-challenged responses. For example, insisting that violence against Copts is a “media myth” is an insult, certainly to the 21 people who perished in a car bomb outside a church on New Year’s eve 2011, or to the many others who lost their lives since then, and those who were dispossessed in mob violence. Then there is the fact that while issuing comfortable words about a “civil state”, on the same day,  Khairat El-Shater was assuring the Salafis of just the opposite.

The Muslim Brotherhood is terrified that now with absolute power within their grasp they might once again have it slip away. They should be more terrified about a different issue. That without an honest and soul-searching understanding of what they will do with this power, they might set back the progress of Egypt, specifically, and of Muslim-Christian understanding, generally, for generations.

The US has its share of “Islamophobes”, those who peddle fear for the sake of their narrow gains. They are to be shunned.  But if the Muslim Brotherhood in power proves them right, we will all suffer the consequences for decades. And those who advocated for an open dialog with Islamists, and even support for some of their candidates, will be judged by historians as useful idiots.

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