I notice that you published a report of the meeting last week at NYU on the Moslem Brotherhood. Your report is, unfortunately, full of inaccuracies. I was one of the platform speakers and you will find below my speech as it was delivered. Please compare it against the spiteful and ill-written account from your correspondent. I would be very happy for you to publish it in its present form or to reply to the ludicrous comments in your article. Free speech anyone? Letter here
This is what the enemy does. This is their MO. They lie. It echoes ex-Nazi Hilmar von Campe foreboding remarks at the Walid Shoebat event at Columbia here (audio here) who now lives in Alabama. He was 7 years old in 1933 when the Nazis came to power. He reminded the audience of Josef Goebbels, their chief liar, and the constant repetition of lies, lies and more lies that infected the national consciousness. Constant rhetoric.
Alyssa A. Lappen, Senior Fellow at the American Center for Democracy, covered the New York University Center for Law and Security forum on the Muslim Brotherhood on Oct. 19 for American Thinker here. Read it all before you continue.
The international press cried foul on October 19 after the U.S. denied a visa to a senior Muslim Brotherhood leader. Newsweek, Reuters, ABC News, The National Interest and other media complained that the “moderate” Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) founder Kamal Helbawy was barred from appearing at New York University’s Center for Law and Security. The U.S. also barred entry to Egyptian doctor and MB “guidance counsel” Abd El Monem Abo El Fotouh, who was scheduled to speak in the same discussion on the Muslim Brotherhood.
Helbawy claims to be “moderate.” The U.S. should not prevent “moderates from talking and discussing,” Helbawy stated after being pulled off his flight. El Fotouh is purportedly also temperate.
“At the end of the day, [Islam and the West] have a set of common humanist values: justice, freedom, human rights and democracy,”
he told The Economist in September 2003. Arabists consider El Fotouh “one of the brightest stars” of the MB’s so-called “middle generation.”
The Department of Homeland Security didn’t explain their actions. One can only surmise—and applaud.
Today, the MB still calls for “Building the Muslim state…Building the Khilafa…Mastering the world with Islam.”
MB spiritual leader Yusuf Qaradawi, an Egyptian member of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, likewise calls for an Islamic conquest of Europe (starting with Rome and Italy). “[T]he patch of the Muslim state will expand to cover the whole earth....,” he writes. Qaradawi also praises suicide bombing, readily accepts wife beating and calls upon Muslim women to detonate themselves in order to kill Jews.
Despite all evidence to the contrary, on Oct. 19, the Open Forum on The Muslim Brotherhood nevertheless praised Helbawy and El Fotouh as peaceful moderates, and their organization as a peaceful, just, and moderating influence on Middle East and global politics. Their absence was yet another strike against the Bush administration, executive director Karen Greenberg stated. “This center tries to educate one another, policy makers and the public,” she added—a job Greenberg apparently considers more important than public security.
Former Sunday Times senior reporter Nick Fielding then took the floor. He denied the risks the MB poses to the West. Helbawy is “a wonderful human being,” he stated, adding that the 2005 election of 22 Muslim Brothers to Egypt’s parliament-and the Hamas victory in the January 2006 Palestinian Authority votewere cause for celebration. Fielding objected only to “the reward” Muslims received for their free elections-”the silence of the U.S. State Department in the face of Egyptian government abuse,” and the U.S. and international boycott of the Hamas-controlled PA.
The MB is “reformist,” according to Fielding. It provides “the best possibility in the Middle East of leaders who can make deals and stick to them,” he stated, noting their solid political backing in Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria Kuwait and Yemen. The MB, he insisted, has “for the past 30 years…[consistently] followed a non violent” path. The brotherhood’s only problem, Fielding claimed, is its ostracization by such analysts as “The Counterterrorism blog,” whose data he derided.
True democracy would never take root in the Middle East, Fielding predicted. It’s “about as likely as Shari’a being adopted in Washington D.C.,” he joked.
Since then, Lappen has advised me that American Thinker has received complaints from both Mr. Debat and Mr. Fielding as to her representations of their comments.
It is interesting, and ironic, that both Mr. Debat and Mr. Fielding accuse me of leveraging their respective comments on the Muslim Brotherhood for political gain, when their presentations were both so blatantly political.
Indeed, an altered, and shorter, version of Mr. Fielding’s ostensibly neutral Oct. 19 analysis has been posted at the “official” Ikhwan website. Presumably, he sent them this text. In any case, the “official” Brotherhood apparently views Mr. Fielding’s remarks as a political endorsement—similar to Democracy Now’s far-left political “analysis” of the MB’s purportedly softening line.
Everything on which I quoted Mr. Fielding, he said.
Unfortunately, Mr. Fielding’s supposed “speech as it was delivered” is neither complete nor a precise duplicate of his remarks. Possibly, the text he provided to American Thinker and the “official” Ikhwan website served as his outline. In any case, in his delivered remarks, Mr. Fielding strayed from the above-cited text, and added many other points besides. Certain of Mr. Fielding’s quoted statements hailed from the question and answer period, which the above text also excludes.
And some of those remarks—unaccountably not contained in the text of Mr. Fielding’s “speech as it was delivered”— were also cited elsewhere. Mr. Fielding not only described senior Muslim Brotherhood leader and Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) founder Kamal Helbawy as a “wonderful human being,” (as I reported), but also as a “voice of reason,” as he was quoted in the New York Post. The New York Sun likewise reported on the panel’s praise for the MB and its absent speakers.
But Mr. Fielding and Mr. Debat should not pretend to be vindicated by any audio tape of the event, to be posted on the Center’s website( as promised on Oct. 25) “before the end of the year at the latest”—unless it is complete and unedited. But that may not be in the cards. Asked if the Center would post the entire session, including the question and answer period, a spokesman stated, “We are considering editing the content,” a process that could easily also exclude many controversial remarks that I quoted from the respective experts. The excuse is time limitation, although streaming digital MP3 downloads are not limited by time. Who is dishonest now?
In another comment not documented above, Mr. Fielding stated, “Saudi Arabia has never adopted the program of the Muslim Brotherhood.” On this point, moderator Peter Bergen challenged him, noting that Saudi Arabia opened its arms to the MB. Indeed, as I have previously reported with Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld, the kingdom granted the MB business monopolies, while King Saud funded their establishment of the Islamic University in Medina.
Any Muslim Brotherhood support for terrorism, Mr. Fielding later contended, springs from “wayward connections.” Reports of MB terror financing result from “over imaginative conclusions about how money moves,” he argued. Mr. Fielding admitted that there are “a number of cases where links [can be] seen,” yet he also avowed that the guilty parties in such instances most likely were only “individuals involved.” He concluded, “the Muslim Brotherhood is not a jihadist organization or bent on the destruction of the West.”
The question of whether Islam could politically dominate Europe within a few decades, Mr. Fielding dismissed as “garbage”—“It’s just not true,” he said. Citing Britain as a case in point, he estimated its current Muslim population at “less than two million.” While first generation migrants have a high birth rate, Mr. Fielding said that, barring “mass conversion,” Britain will never be politically ruled by Islam—a point that the audience greeted with laughter.
Mr. Fielding stated that “sometimes the Muslim Brotherhood feels like the Masons,” suggesting a parallel between the Islamist MB and the Freemasons, whose spiritual Masonic Order has been targeted by unfounded conspiracy theories and persecuted by totalitarian regimes. The MB undeniably backs jihad, terror and plans for global domination; the Masons, by contrast, merely open their doors to those interested in joining.
Finally, Mr. Fielding indeed blamed the West’s refusal to recognize Shari’a law in Islamic countries as a “reason for militancy.” He added, in citing another scholar, that countering the spread of jihad organizations requires the West “to address the grievances”—many of them legitimate—of the jihadist movement. Furthermore, Mr Fielding stated—another political comment—that the Muslim Brotherhood should be “supported as strongly as possible” by the West.
If these quotations sound “ludicrous” to Mr. Fielding, I would not disagree. Therefore, he should be more careful when making statements in public forums.
Lappen adds in her correspondence to me [emphasis mine];
As you will note in my reply to Mr. Fielding, I was very disturbed Wednesday to see a text he sent to the American Thinker, and apparently to the official Ikhwan website, which he claims is a copy of his speech. In fact, this text is NOT a precise transcript of his remarks, and it is dishonest for him to claim otherwise. That may well be the text he wrote in advance of the event, but he veered from it; He added other comments (as do most speakers), and expressed certain points in different language. Moreover, upon checking with the NYU Center yesterday as to when a tape of the event would be published, I was told it would be before the end of the year, at the latest, but that the Center was "considering editing the content." If this is true, this is even more disturbing.
Needless to say, it is unfair and unethical for either Mr. Debat or Mr. Fielding to now deny having made statements they made, or having implied their clear sympathy for the Muslim Brotherhood. I took copious notes and marked who said what, and there were hundreds of other witnesses to their remarks as well. While my analysis may not be one for which the speakers might have hoped, others also reported on their support for the Muslim Brotherhood.
Mr. Debat and Mr. Fielding have a right to their opinions. But in a democratic society, at war with a totalitarian ideology, I daresay that reporters, too
Mr. Debat and Mr. Fielding do indeed have a right to their opinion but they have no right to lie, deceive, and mislead an uninformed public. This is the way of Islam and the more people know about the NYU event the better.