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memri
November 13, 2018 No.
171

Does 'The Washington Post' Have A Blind Spot For The Muslim Brotherhood?

The October 2, 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, an avowed proponent of and apologist for the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Washington Post's endorsement of this position[1] – promoted primarily by foreign affairs reporter Ishaan Tharoor, who anchors the Today's Worldview feature, but also by the editorial board – raises anew the question of whether the MB is a believer in democracy and free expression.

In an August 2018 column in the Post, Khashoggi wrote: "The eradication of the Muslim Brotherhood is nothing less than an abolition of democracy and a guarantee that Arabs will continue living under authoritarian and corrupt regimes."[2] This emphatic assertion should be closely examined, in light of its ideology and its implementation in Egypt during the presidency of Mohamed Morsi.

MEMRI has analyzed both of these in depth. The MEMRI reports listed below explain all this, and show how the MB ideology is antithetical to democracy and freedom of speech:

Indeed, it is not enough to examine just the Morsi era in Egypt. It is also necessary to look at the Tunisian MB movement, Ennahda, which is strongly influenced by its leader Rashed Ghannoushi and which attempts to accommodate democracy. There is also the Turkish Muslim Brotherhood and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its leader, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan; they are successfully taking the country back several centuries to authoritarian Islamic rule.

 

*Yigal Carmon is President of MEMRI.

 


 

[1] The MB's portrayal by The Washington Post – which prioritizes its political convictions over journalistic professionalism – effectively gives the movement a character reference. Tharoor has accused the Obama administration of failing to stick up for the MB "no matter its democratic bonafides." (Washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2018/07/30/trump-carries-on-u-s-tradition-by-coddling-egypts-strongman/?utm_term=.b9044dc2c1b2, July 30, 2018.) He has also lambasted the Trump administration for considering an executive order designating the MB and Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as terrorist organizations. Tharoor informed his readers that suspicion regarding the MB belongs to conspiracy theories peddled by former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and his ilk, and argued, interestingly, that designating the MB as terrorist was dangerous because it "would cast a cloud over a number of U.S.-based charities and civil rights organizations that have indirect ties to Muslim Brotherhood-related groups abroad" – that is, the MB should not be designated so as to maintain the respectability of its U.S.-based affiliates. (Washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/02/10/why-listing-the-muslim-brotherhood-as-a-terror-group-is-a-bad-idea/?utm_term=.7686f841ae21, February 10, 2017.) Tharoor also opposed Mike Pompeo's nomination as Secretary of State because as a Congressman he sponsored legislation to designate the MB a terrorist organization, and insinuated that by doing so Pompeo was revealing his own Islamophobia. (Washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2018/04/12/trumps-would-be-secretary-of-state-has-an-islamophobia-problem/?utm_term=.549ca856a38a, April 12, 2018.) The Post also expressed the idea that Pompeo's opposition to the MB disqualified him for the post with the publication of a column on the matter by its religion columnist Michelle Boorstein (Washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2018/03/13/sweeping-comments-by-trumps-state-dept-pick-about-islam-have-long-worried-muslim-advocates/?utm_term=.e6a7a4e9db3d, March 3, 2018.) These views were also expressed by several writers on the paper's Op-Ed page. For example, Mohamed Morsi's son Abdullah was offered an opportunity on the Op-Ed page to accuse Western politicians of accepting "the scaremongering narrative that the MB has a hidden agenda" (Washingtonpost.com/news/democracy-post/wp/2018/03/23/my-father-was-president-of-egypt-now-hes-in-solitary-confinement/?utm_term=.8dbff95490ab, March 23, 2018.) Also in the Post, Mark Lynch disputed the idea that the MB is a terrorist organization, calling it "a firewall against extremism." (Washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/03/07/is-the-muslim-brotherhood-a-terrorist-organization-or-a-firewall-against-violent-extremism/?utm_term=.84545c8c381e, March 7, 2016.) The Post is justified in publishing articles favorable to the MB as long as it also publishes articles showing its dark side; this has not been done since 2013 when Tharoor began writing about foreign affairs for the Post; prior to that, Max Fisher, who blogged on foreign affairs for the newspaper, did so. The Post correctly asserts that "democracy dies in darkness"; its one-sided portrayal of the MB is a betrayal of this motto.

[2] Washingtonpost.com/news/global-opinions/wp/2018/08/28/the-u-s-is-wrong-about-the-muslim-brotherhood-and-the-arab-world-is-suffering-for-it/?utm_term=.e50ffd28e0ff, August 28, 2018.