From Anti-Semitism to Defaming Islam: A Response to Dr. Udo Ulfkotte
Having read the article written by Dr. Ulfkotte "The Muslim Brotherhood - a master plan for establishing Caliphate and Sharia in Europe" I felt the obligation to respond to it.
I thank WSN for editing my controversial view.
An unfamiliarity with history and a negligence of facts invariably leads to mistaken conclusions. And mistaken conclusions often incite hatred, prevent civilized dialogue, and result in disastrous consequences. Hitler thought Jews in Germany were a threat to his design and to European culture and gradually sanctioned their extermination. President Bush and the neoconservatives believed that the Bible considers the Iraqi people to be intrinsically evil and Iraq to be a land of lies that must be defeated (Forward, 2004, April 9). Inspired by their own interpretations of Biblical prophecies, they invaded Iraq and have now transformed it into a failed state and an incubator for terrorism. In fact, the concentration of human and financial costs rank among the highest ever experienced in the history of civilization.
According to international affairs experts, just before the demise of the Soviet Union, the neoconservatives in the United States determined to make Islam the new enemy. The act of targeting Muslims and the entire Islamic civilization has been instrumental in poisoning the minds of innocent people, and simultaneously arousing anger and resentment among Muslims in various parts of the world. This, however, seems to serve the end purpose: igniting the clash of civilizations and setting the stage for perpetual world instability.
Indeed, there are competing forces in the global political arena that seek to encourage religious wars and persistently and tirelessly steer world events to reinforce the militarization of the globe and globalization of fear. The latter eases the institutionalization of prejudice and hatred. In the twentieth century, vilifying the Jewish people and their religion fostered indifference and a tolerance of crimes against the Jewish people. Those who, in recent decades, have engaged in promoting the clash of civilizations understand the power of inciting racial and religious hatred and its usefulness in rallying the public, especially in the U.S., behind the anti-Muslim message. During the 1940s, this strategy worked in demonizing Jews. Currently, it is working to discredit Muslims and their faith.
In an interview with Dr. Udo Ulfkotte (June 14, 2007), the focus was primarily on the Muslim brotherhood. In Ulfkotte’s attempt to map the historical evolution of the Muslim Brotherhood, three fatal mistakes were made: ignoring facts in the context of the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, the misconception of the term Caliphate, and confusion regarding business market adaptation and marketing strategies in the era of business globalization. Briefly, these subjects are clarified below:
1. The evolution of the Muslim Brotherhood. In establishing the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in 1928, Hassan al-Bana sought to educate people that to live in dignity is a civic and religious duty. He considered lack of dignity and the severity of poverty in Egypt to be characteristically linked to foreign occupation and tyranny. Thus, he and his group focused on educational and charitable activities; an awareness of the masses was considered a prerequisite for social and economic justice. As the leftist movement and communism spread in the Arab World, after the October Revolution in Russia, western nations, especially France and Britain, searched for an effective counter power and found that religion and the Muslim Brotherhood could be instrumental in the fight against communism and leftist ideologies. These were considered subversive ideologies and a threat to colonization. After the nationalistic revolution in Egypt in 1952, western nations, and the U.S. in particular, considered the Arab liberation movement which was promoted by the President of Egypt, Abdul Naser, and the mushrooming of nationalist political movements that espoused Marxist ideology, a threat to the existence of Israel and Arab dictators. Accordingly, the Muslim Brotherhood played a pivotal role in fighting nationalistic and or Arab liberal movements. In Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf States, financial and militaristic aid was given freely to the Muslim Brotherhood. In fact, all Arab authoritarian regimes with the backing of the CIA promoted religious movements. After the Iranian Revolution in 1979 and the invasion by the Soviet Union of Afghanistan, the western nations considered the Muslim Brotherhood an indispensable ally in keeping the authoritarian Arab regimes in power. This, however, changed as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt gave priority in its platform to patriotic and Arab causes -- independence, dignity, and religious awakening. In recent months, however, Washington has decided to reopen multiple channels of communications with Muslim Brotherhood in several Arab countries. The Lebanese News Paper, al-akhbar, reported on July 4, 2007 that the CIA and State Department invited representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood to attend meetings and discusses pressing issues. After the invasion of Iraq in 2003, political parties directly or indirectly affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, such as the Islamic Party of Iraq and others in Lebanon and Syria, were supported by Washington to counter the rise of liberation movements. Sadly, Washington and its allies of Arab dictators openly supported extremist Muslim movements as the Lebanese resistance forces effectively stood up to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in the summer of 2006. The Washington Post (June 17, 2007) revealed that million of dollars were transferred to Lebanon to foment sectarian divisions, stating, “The Bush administration is trying to strengthen Sunni countries it considers moderate, among them Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, to counter Shiite entities such as Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah.” The Post documented that Saad al-Hariri, an ally of Washington and the Saudi government, provided extremist Muslim groups with considerable financial support. At this point in time, extremist groups are considered instrumental in keeping Lebanon in a perpetual chaos.
This leads to two conclusions. The first is that the Biblically driven elite in the west considers inducing or creating extremism an instrument for instability in the Middle East and a logical justification for maintaining a military presence in the region. In fact, those who are intimately familiar with Middle East politics question the logic for Washington’s alliance with radical and extremist Muslim groups in Iraq (e.g., Islamic Party, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, The Accordance Front, etc) and in other Arab States, especially radical Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia and those associated or backed by the Saudi regime. Second, the Muslim Brotherhood, like any other politically inspired organization, shifts alliances but does not, as Ulfkotte claims, “share their ideology with Hitler.” Nazism is a nationalistic, uncompromising ideology driven by a religious belief of the superiority and purity of a race. The ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood is a blend of vague political and religious reforms and lacks a well-articulated design for governance. Its appeal is limited and on many occasions has been used by both the West and Arab dictators to divert the attention of the Arab masses from pressing and immediate threats to their national identity and the abuse of power.
2. Misconceptions of the Caliphate. Literally, Caliph means a successor. It was given to the first head of state after the death of the Prophet Mohamed in 623. The early years of Islam (623-661) was called the rightly guided Caliph era. During that time, the Caliphate was strictly a civic system for governance and the Caliph’s duties were considered civil duties. Its legitimacy stemmed primarily from the approval of the governed. After the death of the fourth guided Caliph in 661, the Caliphate became primarily a form of dynastic rule similar to that which existed in medieval European countries. Since then, the system has departed from Islamic teaching. Ignorant and ill informed individuals and groups, in many Muslim countries, have developed an understanding of the Caliphate, which is significantly distant from its original meaning and civic dimension. During the second half of the Abbasside dynasty (749-1258), most of the Caliphs were appointed by either the invading military commanders or bureaucrats in Bagdad. While Ulfkotte asserts that “The Caliphate is a religious dictatorship where only the religious leader has the power,” in fact, most of the Caliphs after 661 never assumed religious leadership. The Omayyad dynasty (661-749) never claimed any religious justification. The Abbassides created positions for selected religious scholars to look at religious matters. Furthermore, Ulfkotte was inaccurate in stating that the Caliphate ended “when the Ottoman Empire was finished in 1924.” Those who are familiar with Muslim history know that the Caliphate ended long before the Ottoman Turks came to power. Likewise, the Ottoman rulers called themselves Sultans rather than Caliphs. Faced with widespread public resentment and mounting challenges from rising western colonial powers, the last functional sultan, Abdul Hamid (1879-1909), tried unsuccessfully to rally the public by invoking the concept of Caliphate. The attempt was discredited and could not stop the rapid vanishing of the Ottoman rule. Those in the West who utilize the fear factor as a strategic tool, play on the emotions of uninformed citizens when they invoke in their politically driven speeches or writings the concept, Caliphate, which they themselves have only a vague or even no understanding of.
3. Business and marketing strategies. Dr. Ulfkotte seems to imply that Muslims dictate western corporate marketing strategies and business segmentation. He states, “We accept that snack-producers like Frito-Lay must declare if their products are halal for Muslims or not. We accept that Muslims in Germany . . . don’t like pork meat. We accept that Muslims press the cosmetic industry to no longer use pork products in cosmetics.” Companies in the West and elsewhere, for a long time, have added kosher labels to their products. Furthermore, many of them have refrained from using pork-extracted materials in the manufacturing of their products. Jewish organizations and activists initiated campaigns demanding that companies should start offering products without violating Jewish restriction on consumptions of pork and processing of certain products. The campaign was successful in persuading companies to use kosher labels. In a capitalistic and free market economy, corporations have the right to decline complying with the request to observe Jewish teaching regarding pork and other matters. However, companies are in the business of selling and making profits and do not seek to lose a market of more than fifteen million Jewish customers. The same is applied to Muslims who share similar dietary laws to that of Jews. Since Muslims number about one billion and three hundred million people, corporations cannot afford to ignore such a market.
Dr. Ulfkotte raised issues that are controversial. There are some who might consider his propositions and concerns an incitement of hatred or an evidence of naivety and a lack of knowledge of history. There are those, however, who view them as legitimate concerns and a platform for clarifying issues important for ensuring world peace and stability. Indeed, Dr. Ulfkotte in the interview, intentionally or unintentionally, emphasized the need for moderate Christians, Jews, and Muslims to confront abuses of power, or the use of violence to intimidate or dominate other people. One can deduct that Ulfkotte is expressing some frustrations and concerns about the possible erosion of European cultures.
The latter is, likewise, shared by Arabs and Muslims who experience deep concerns regarding the intrusive invasion of their own culture. These people are alienated and politically and economically abused by their own authoritarian and totalitarian regimes. These regimes are sustained by unconditional support provided by Washington and London. The tragic circumstances in Iraq and Lebanon evidence the failure of using force to change peoples’ ways of life and to induce them to accept total submission. More importantly, these events demonstrate the depth of the ongoing “jihad” led by Christian, Jewish, and Muslim right wing groups and fanatics in their attempt to maintain instability and chaos in a region vital for world peace and stability. This “Jihad” and emerging Jihadists are a threat to democratic order and a menace to civilization. According to news reports, most of the terrorists who operate in Iraq, for instance, have been financed and recruited by governments allied with the U.S. In fact, news reports from Iraq and surrounding countries indicate that funds are collected openly in neighboring Arab countries to support terrorist operations in Iraq. The Iraqi nahrainnet.net (March 18, 2007) reported King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia stating, “We spent more than $40 billion to liberate and end Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait. And today, after the collapse of Saddam’s regime and the rise of Shia power in Iraq, I am declaring that the Kingdom is ready to set a side $250 billion to face this threat and prevent the Shia Iraq from threatening the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
Similarly, the New York Times (July 23, 2006) quoted a senior White House officer saying, “They [Saudis] want to see Hezbollah wiped out.” Likewise, the Jewish Forward reported (July 21, 2006) that Saudi representatives in the U.S. met with Jewish leaders to discuss the attack on Lebanon. The Forward quoted an influential Jewish leader, Abraham Foxman, after his meeting with the Saudi Ambassador to Washington, saying, "We told the ambassador that this could be a new moment in the relationship, that the neighborhood is changing because the threats that face the Jewish people are also facing moderate Arab states."
Certainly, these alliances cannot serve the cause of peace and stability in the Middle East. Eventually, they will contribute to fueling resentments, mistrust, and chaos. In fact, recent events in the region demonstrate that suppressing freedom and using force are the most effective means for creating extremists and terrorists. Current intelligence reports in the West and other places document that the invasion of Iraq has contributed significantly to increasing extremism and terrorism. Furthermore, the invasion has led to a rapid erosion of civil liberties in the Middle East, emboldening of authoritarian regimes, and an astonishing decline in optimistic and liberal outlooks in the region. In Iraq for example, the people experience calamities daily and according to many news reports, their lives have become a living hell. Just on July 7, 2007 more than 500 Iraqis were killed or injured. The CNN (July 5, 2007) reported that even at the best of times the lives of Iraqis are desperate and tragic. The reporter stated, “Ordinary Iraqis I speak with as I compile my stories don't talk about their lives anymore. They tell me about their miseries. Their life has become a list of grievances and frustrations. . . . I leave my house because I choose to; they leave theirs because they will probably die if they don't.”
It is time to face the harsh truth that people in the Middle East, whether they are Christians or Muslims, do not like to be invaded, dominated, and killed. Denying them liberty and freedom is a menace to civilization and ultimately a threat to western civilization. The people in that part of the world do not like to see their houses blown up, their loved ones assassinated and their countries occupied. The challenge and threat they face is real and is deeper than the subject of eating pork or putting a halal label on consumer goods. Destroying hope and condemning them to a dark future is a serious and immediate threat to humanity.