MB website launched to counter ‘Ikhwanophobia’

MB website launched to counter ‘Ikhwanophobia’

It seems Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood (MB) opposition movement is trying to coin a new term, “ikhwanophobia,” by launching a website of the same name mixing Islam-related news and commentary with original content promoting the ideology of one of the Arab world’s largest Islamist organizations.

The website also names and shames the group’s critics and what the MB calls “Islamophobes.”

What looks at first glance like a news website functions primarily as a watchdog, highlighting statements by prominent political and social figures and media coverage that either derides or defends the MB, Islam and political Islam.

For instance, the website features the recent refusal of Britain’s coalition government to ban the full face veil, along with a Washington Post editorial accompanied by a cartoon depicting US Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan–who allegedly holds favorable views on Islam–wearing an Afghan-style Turban.

The website describes the editorial as “a bizarre op-ed by Frank Gaffney claiming that Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is caught up in a conspiracy with the Muslim Brotherhood …  to impose oppressive tenets of Islamic Sharia law on America.”

The website goes on to opine that the newspaper’s editors “must think that their readers have a very short attention span, because yesterday’s Washington Times also featured an op-ed by Frank Gaffney which touts the same tired conspiracy theory.”

Ikhwanophobia also carries commentary by contributors on brotherhood-related issues.

For instance, under the “Listen to MB” section, a post titled “Commentary: Muslim Brotherhood and Democracy” runs like a discussion between a reader and an ikhwanophobia editor on MB founder Hassan el-Banna and the latter’s views on political plurality. The reader begins by saying that he was “surprised to learn that el-Banna sympathized with the concept of democracy but ‘condemned the concept of plurality of the parties’,” with the editor responding by saying that el-Banna had not lampooned the concept of parties, but rather the mainstream parties present.

The historical context provided is of course skewed in favor of the brotherhood, or, at least, is solely described from their perspective and their understanding of events.

In another article, ikhwanophobia writer Khaled Salam rebuffs the common perception that brotherhood branches around the world constitute a single, interconnected entity. This view has in the past raised the MB’s status to that of a global network, raising fears among those who oppose political Islam and equate it with militancy.

“The so called Global Network of the Muslim Brotherhood is merely a Hollywood fiction that only exists in the minds of those who created it as part of their scare tactics to incite fears among the public and instigate government hostilities,” Salam writes. “There is no ‘global network’ for the Muslim Brotherhood, but rather coordination among the different MB chapters in various countries in which the MB has a formal presence or representation…”

Other sections on the website include “The Neutrals,” which, as the name suggests, carries objective articles and news aggregated from other web sources and ikhwanophobia correspondents. This includes such stories as one on whether or not Islamic law is compatible with human rights and a feature about the battle over Islam in Europe.

The website has two sections dedicated to exposing the group’s detractors, which include Islam hate groups, fear mongers and critics of Islam. Headlines under the “Meet the Smearcasters” section include “Nonie Darwish,” a pro-Israel human rights activist and Egyptian American who has described Islam as a “sinister force” that must be combated.

Another section, “Under Siege,” carries, among other things, news of people, causes, or figures–such as Octavia Nasr or Youssef Nada–who have come under attack or were discriminated against for either being Muslim or for sympathizing with Islamic figures or ideas.

The website takes its name from the word “Ikhwan,” meaning “brothers” in Arabic. The MB, which was founded in Egypt in 1928 by el-Banna and which takes “Islam is the solution” as its general motto, is extremely popular among the grassroots in Egypt for its development and charity work.

In recent years, it has also formed a strong opposition front against the ruling National Democratic Party of President Hosni Mubarak by fielding independent candidates in parliamentary elections.

Resistance Islamist group Hamas, based in the Gaza Strip, is an offshoot of the brotherhood, and the organization, which takes Quran as its inspiration and constitution, has branches in Syria and Jordan, along with having members in the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe.