By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media
Just two days after hundreds of Egyptian-Americans besieged the Washington, D.C. headquarters of The Washington Post, a Post editorial defended the absurd claim that the Muslim Brotherhood was not involved in the destruction of Christian Churches and attacks on Christians in Egypt.
We posted videos of the demonstration against the Post here and here. The demonstrators started their protest outside the White House and marched to the offices of the paper, chanting that the Post was lying about the Muslim Brotherhood’s role in anti-Christian terrorism.
The Post’s Saturday editorial, “Egypt’s beleaguered Christians,” repeated the false claim, saying, “…as The Post’s Abigail Hauslohner reported this week, there is no evidence that Muslim Brotherhood leaders, most of whom are imprisoned, had any role in organizing last week’s [anti-Christian] attacks.”
But this is not exactly what Hauslohner reported.
While she said that a “high-ranking Western official who was not authorized to speak on the record” claimed there was “zero indication that the Muslim Brotherhood as an organization is organizing these attacks,” evidence of Muslim Brotherhood involvement came from people that she quoted who witnessed the attacks.
However, Hauslohner’s report from the anonymous official that the blame rested with “Islamist vigilantes rather than Brotherhood members acting on orders” was a dubious claim that does not stand up under scrutiny.
The evidence demonstrates that the Muslim Brotherhood as an organization did encourage the violence.
In fact, in this video from Egypt, Safwat Hijazy, a strong backer of deposed President Mohamed Morsi linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, threatened to “spill the blood” of the Christians in Egypt if they backed the opposition and brought Morsi down.
The translation shows Safwat Hegazi saying, “This is a message to the Egyptian Church from an Egyptian Muslim: By Allah, if you conspire and join ranks with the remnants of the Mubarak regime in order to topple Morsi—things will be different between us.”
The crowd responds, “Allah Akbar, Allah Akbar.”
Safwat Hegazi goes on, “I say to the Church: True, you are our brethren to this country, but we have our red lines. The legitimacy of Dr. Mohamed Morsi is where we draw the line. If anyone splashes water on this legitimacy, we will splash him with blood.”
The New York Times noted that Hegazi is “a popular speaker” who introduced Morsi at his first presidential rally. The paper said he introduced Morsi by telling the crowd that he would usher in a “United States of Arabs” and “Islamic caliphate” with its capital in Jerusalem.
The Times confirmed that the threats against Christians were made during clashes outside the presidential palace last December: “As violent clashes took place outside the presidential palace last December, Mr. Hegazi turned his ire toward Egypt’s Christian minority, which makes up about 10 percent of the country’s 85 million people, sending a message by way of a large crowd of Morsi supporters.”
The paper noted the threats in the context of violence which erupted in April “after unknown assailants attacked a funeral at Cairo’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral, killing one and injuring scores at the seat of the Coptic Church and home of its spiritual leader, Pope Tawadros II.”
Hegazi has since been arrested by the interim government which overthrew Morsi.
The Times added, “During an interview on a Brotherhood-linked satellite television channel, another prominent Brotherhood figure—Mohamed el-Beltagy, a charismatic senior member who is popular with many of the organization’s younger members—repeated the claim that most of Mr. Morsi’s opponents outside the palace last December were Christians.”
These statements invited violence against the Christians after the overthrow of the Morsi regime.
It is simply disgraceful that the Post editorial writer would base a conclusion of no Muslim Brotherhood involvement in anti-Christian violence on a statement from an anonymous official that flies in the face of all the evidence. No wonder Egyptian-Americans protested outside the paper’s headquarters.
Kristen Chick, Cairo correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor, found more evidence that somehow escaped the notice of the Post.
Here’s what she reported: “At the camp of Morsi supporters near Cairo’s Rabaa El Adawiya square, organized by the Muslim Brotherhood, some speakers on the protest’s stage railed against Christians and their ‘betrayal’ of Egypt. Attacks against Christians spread throughout Egypt, particularly in southern Egypt where the Christian population is large and sectarian violence common.” (emphasis added).
Chick noted that an August 7 statement from 16 Egyptian rights organizations condemned “the rhetoric employed by leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood and their allies which includes clear incitement to violence and religious hatred in order to achieve political gains, regardless of the grave repercussions of such rhetoric for peace in Egypt.”
A subsequent statement by nine other Egyptian rights organizations said, “the Muslim Brotherhood has decided to pursue political violence and terrorism for the time being; instead of engaging in self-criticism and recognizing its failure to maintain the trust of citizens who voted for it, the group seeks to spur the country toward a civil war, a possibility that first reared its head in November” (emphasis added).
“In December,” the statement said, “MB supporters killed their political opponents and tortured others, while Brotherhood leaders began fomenting anti-Christian sectarian incitement. The anti-Coptic incitement and threats continued unabated up to the demonstrations of June 30 and, with the removal of President Morsy on July 3, morphed into sectarian violence, which was sanctioned by the MB, both by their complicit silence and refusal to condemn these crimes and by the continued anti-Coptic rhetoric heard from the group’s leaders on the stage at Rabia al-Adawiya throughout the sit-in…” (emphasis added).
Chick also noted that what appeared to be the authentic Facebook page for the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party in Helwan, south of Cairo, listed accusations against the church, before concluding: “After all this people ask why they burn churches.” The page noted that “burning houses of worship is a crime,” but added: “For every action, there is a reaction.”
Raymond Ibrahim, author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War in Christians, reports that al-Qaeda’s Egyptian leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, a former Brotherhood member, portrayed the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi and the Brotherhood as a “Crusader” campaign led by Coptic Pope Tawadros II.
He said, “The Islamic terrorist organization’s incitement against the Copts is just the latest emanating from Islamists—from the top of the Brotherhood leadership to the bottom of the ‘Muslim street’—and is creating something of an ‘open season’ on Egypt’s Christians.”
Rather than absolve the Muslim Brotherhood of its role in violence and terrorism, the Post should launch an investigation into how its editorial writers got the facts wrong and why hundreds of Egyptian-Americans showed up to protest the paper’s headquarters.
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.