Note: This is the first of two stories to examine the New York Times’ coverage of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The New York Times’ January 14 report on the Middle East Media Research Institute’s (MEMRI) videos of Egyptian Mohamed Morsi’s 2010 anti-Semitic statements inexplicably omitted the larger story of the Muslim Brotherhood’s decades-long intrinsic anti-Semitism.
The Investigative Project on Terrorism has uncovered comments going back to 2004 showing a pattern of pure anti-Semitic comments made by Morsi and other Muslim Brotherhood leaders.
MEMRI has routinely covered these sorts of bigoted and hate-filled statements from throughout the Islamic world that most media outlets such as the Times have refused to cover since the late 1990s.
Morsi’s comments reflect the Muslim Brotherhood’s intrinsic anti-Semitism that is easily obtainable dating back to its founding in 1928.
The MEMRI videos cited by the New York Times earlier this month show Morsi referring to Jews as “the descendants of apes and pigs” and saying that Muslims should “nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred for them: for Zionists, for Jews…”
The IPT found additional comments by Morsi on the Muslim Brotherhood’s website from November 2004 in which he described the Jews as “descendants of apes and pigs.”
Morsi also invoked the Quran during the same speech, calling the Zionists “traitors to every covenant and convention” and saying that “the Jews are the most hostile enemies of the Muslims.”
References to Jews as “apes” and “pigs” also are repeatedly found in the speeches of the man many liberal Egyptians regard as the real power behind Morsi, Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie. According to Germany’s Der Spiegel, Morsi regularly meets with Badie and has shown that he expresses obedience to the supreme guide.
“The Zionists, the West and the lackey rulers conspired together. If the Muslim Brotherhood had remained in the field, the Zionist Entity would not have stood not its flag raised. Of old God forced the Jews to become pigs,” Badie said in a July 7, 2010 sermon found on the Brotherhood’s website.
Badie returned to the theme in a June 14, 2012 speech on the eve of Morsi’s election.
“The Lord of Glory has threatened these murdering Zionists criminals with a penalty of a kind which operates in this world before the Hereafter,” Badie said, then quoting: “So when they were insolent about that which they had been forbidden, We said to them, ‘Be apes, despised.’ [Quran 7:166].”
“The cause of Palestine is of considerable importance. It is not a cause of power, nor of Palestinians, nor of the Arabs, but is the basic cause of life of every Muslim,” Badie said. “For the sake of its return, every Muslim must wage jihad, sacrifice; and expend his money for the sake of restoring it.
“Palestine and Jerusalem is a holy Muslim land, part of the faith of the Muslim ummah,” Badie continued. “To forsake any part of it is to forsake the ummah’s civilization and faith. This is a great sin.”
Agence France Presse (AFP) quoted Badie calling for a “Holy Jihad” to liberate Jerusalem from Israeli control in an Oct. 11, 2012 report.
“Jerusalem is Islamic … and nobody is entitled to make concessions” on the holy city, said Badie in his weekly message to supporters, according to AFP.
“The jihad for the recovery of Jerusalem is a duty for all Muslims,” he said, stressing that taking back Jerusalem “will not be done through negotiations or at the United Nations.”
The “apes and pigs” motif about Jews resurfaced in November at a protest organized by the Brotherhood and its political arm, Al-Qalyubi. Preacher Muhammad Ragab called on Muslims at the protest “to raise the banner of jihad against the tyrannical, invading and wicked sons of apes and pigs [i.e., the Jews], and to unite against the enemies of Allah” during the protest.
The New York Times Ignores Muslim Brotherhood’s Intrinsic Anti-Semitism
MEMRI posted the video of Morsi’s anti-Semitism and its translation January 3, but it generated little attention until after Richard Behar of Forbes magazine wrote ascathing commentary on January 11 noting that Fox News had covered the story, and slamming the Times and other media for ignoring it.
“Surely, if the president of virtually any other country in the world had defamed an entire people in such a way — only a couple years before they got the top job, to boot — it would have at least gotten a few column-inches,” Behar wrote. “Yet Morsi gets a free pass.”
Three days later on January 14, the Times’ Cairo bureau chief David Kirkpatrick wrote a front-page story about MEMRI’s videos of Morsi’s anti-Semitism, which was followed two days later by a Times editorial criticizing the statements.
But in both cases, the newspaper failed to show that Morsi’s views were part of a continuum of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel incitement that goes back to the Brotherhood’s founding.
Ironically, information about the Brotherhood’s historic anti-Semitism can easily be found in the Times‘ own archives, but apparently nobody looked. Instead, the Timeseditorial sought to find a non-existent context to explain away Morsi’s hate speech and threw in outrageous moral relativism.
“The problem goes deeper than just Mr. Morsi, however. The remarks were made at a time when anti-Israel sentiment was running high in Egypt and the region after the three-week Gaza conflict in 2009 between Israel and Hamas,” the Times editorial said. “The sad truth is that defaming Jews is an all too standard feature of Egyptian, and Arab, discourse; Israelis are not immune to responding in kind either.”
The Times editorial rhetorically suggests Morsi’s comments were an aberration, asking: “Does Mr. Morsi really believe what he said in 2010? Has becoming president made him think differently about the need to respect and work with all people?”
Well, no on both counts. Casting Morsi’s statements somehow as a reaction to Israel’s 2009 war in Gaza ignores the fact that Morsi and other Muslim Brotherhood leaders routinely made conspiracy theories blaming Jews for Egypt’s problems for decades.
They call for jihad to liberate Palestine in times of peace and times of turmoil without any condemnation from prominent Muslim leaders. And no Israeli leader, or state-sanctioned media, has come close to responding in-kind.
Statements such as those recently made by far-right Knesset candidate Jeremy Gimpel calling for the destruction of the Dome of the Rock are strongly denounced in Israeli media and society alike.
The article and editorial fail to show the deeper context. This kind of speech is nothing new for the Muslim Brotherhood. Sayyid Qutb, one of the group’s luminaries, even wrote a 1951 essay called “Our Battle with the Jews.” The essay cited the infamous anti-Semitic forgery, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” and blamed Jews for Muslim problems.
“From such creatures who kill, massacre and defame prophets one can only expect the spilling of human blood and dirty means which would further their machinations and evilness,” he wrote.
Examples in the Times‘ own news archive and in other outlets show that Morsi and fellow Muslim Brotherhood leaders adhere to Qutb’s anti-Semitism, which is, and always has been, a hallmark of the Brotherhood’s ideology.
Badie, who served time in prison alongside Qutb in the 1960s, has vowed to continue his legacy.
“We will continue on the path of Qutb,” the Assyrian International News Agencyquoted Badie saying in a July 3, 2012 report.
Times reporter Michael Slackman captured another glimpse of the Brotherhood’s anti-Semitism in a December 2005 article describing a statement by then-Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Muhammad Mehdi Akef denying the holocaust.
“Western democracy has attacked everyone who does not share the vision of the sons of Zion as far as the myth of the Holocaust is concerned,” Slackman quoted Akef as saying in a statement on the Brotherhood’s website.
Before the Times’ story was published, MEMRI issued a report showing that the Brotherhood website routinely featured anti-Semitic content. That includes a January 2010 article which dismissed the holocaust as “a tale invented by the American intelligence apparatuses with the Allies’ collaboration during World War II, in order to harm the image of their German adversaries and justify the great destructive war against the Axis countries’ military and civilian installations.”
Had the Times examined its own archive it would have found a March 23, 2003 article by freelance writer Paul Berman in the New York Times Magazine article titled, “The Philosopher of Islamic Terror,” chronicling Qutb’s life and influence.
“The Jews occupy huge portions of Qutb’s Koranic commentary – their perfidy, greed, hatefulness, diabolical impulses, never-ending conspiracies and plots against Muhammad and Islam,” Berman wrote. “Qutb was relentless on these themes. He looked on Zionism as part of the eternal campaign by the Jews to destroy Islam.”
Egyptian historian Khalid Fahmi fingered the Brotherhood as a chief cause of the exodus of Egypt’s Jewish community, starting in the 1930s, in a Jan. 3, 2013 interview with Egypt’s Al-Nahar TV translated by MEMRI.
“The Muslim Brotherhood bears much of the responsibility for the fleeing of the Jews from Egypt,” Fahmi said.
Morsi attempted to spin his remarks following the appearance of the Times story,telling a congressional delegation led by Sen. John McCain that his words had been taken out of context. That’s because, wink wink, “the media of the United States is controlled by certain forces,” Morsi said referring to Jews. [Emphasis added] No anti-Semitism there.
“May God accept you, and your deeds not leave you. God has chosen you to help His religion and defending his Aqsa, and indeed Arabism and Islam, against the herd of Zionists, descendants of apes and pigs” Morsi wrote.
According to a Jan. 22, 2013 report by MEMRI, Egyptian columnist Abd Latif Al-Menaway cited the same January 2009 article by Morsi and answers the question raised in the Times’ editorial, concluding that the “article demonstrated that his use of the expression ‘offspring of apes and pigs’ was not a matter of coincidence.” He also challenged Morsi “to ask Brotherhood members and all his supporters to stop using this language if he really believes it was wrong, as he said in the shy statement he issued to please the Americans.”
Morsi’s comments captured in the MEMRI videos and in the statement unearthed by the IPT should serve as a wake-up call for Western media outlets and politicians. They show the need for closer scrutiny toward the Egyptian president’s saber-rattling toward Israel along with a more sober and less idealistic view of the Brotherhood’s anti-Semitism and intolerance of other religions. That intolerance even extends to Muslims who do not subscribe to its brand of Islam.
The Brotherhood condemned Egypt’s Sufi Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa last year when he visited Jerusalem.
“The Mufti did not simply represent himself, since he is seen as the representative of the official religious establishment,” Osama Yassin, assistant secretary-general of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) said in an April 20, 2012 statementon its English-language website.
“Therefore, what he did cannot be accepted, justified or ignored. The Mufti must be held accountable in a manner that should deter any official or public figure from making the same mistake, and thus harming the Palestinian cause.”
Gomaa’s visit was similarly condemned by Yusuf Qaradawi, a chief Brotherhood ideologue based in Qatar. Qaradawi issued a fatwa denouncing the visit as haram or contrary to Islamic law.
“We must feel as though we are banned from Al-Quds and fight for it until it is ours,” Qaradawi told the AFP news agency. “Those who visit legitimize an entity which plunders Palestinian lands, and are forced to cooperate with the enemy’s embassy to receive a visa.”
Egypt’s Christians, who comprise about 10 percent of the population, have also felt the wrath of Morsi’s tongue.
“They need to know that conquest is coming, and Egypt will be Islamic, and that they must pay jizya or emigrate,” Morsi was quoted as having said by Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood expert Raymond Ibrahim writing in the Gatestone Institute.
Americans need to know the full truth and not the filtered version found on the pages of most newspapers and from politicians, knowing full well that the Egyptian president and the Brotherhood are motivated by a hate-filled sectarian agenda against all who oppose them.
The Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) is a non-profit research group founded by Steven Emerson in 1995. It is recognized as the world’s most comprehensive data center on radical Islamic terrorist groups. For more than a decade, the IPT has investigated the operations, funding, activities and front groups of Islamic terrorist and extremist groups in the United States and around the world. It has become a principal source of critical evidence to a wide variety of government offices and law enforcement agencies, as well as the U.S. Congress and numerous public policy forums. Research carried out by the IPT team has formed the basis for thousands of articles and television specials on the subject of radical Islamic involvement in terrorism, and has even led to successful government action against terrorists and financiers based in the United States.