No, this story is all about the Muslim Brotherhood — presented as an innocent party with no nefarious agenda. Just pious, disenfranchised, moderate folks. The focus of the story is the general silence on the part of the U.S. regarding the behavior of its “friend and ally” in this regard.
A story about the shadiness of the Mubarak regime would be far more meaningful — not to mention fair — if it took up the issue of religious minorities (Copts, Baha’i, and others), and/or the persistence of female genital mutilation and other women’s rights issues in Egyptian society. But, alas, all we get is a story devoid of depth and context on a group the author has clearly not investigated with any degree of diligence.
“Egypt’s Crackdown: When a U.S. Ally Does the Repressing,” by Abigail Hauslohner for Time, February 24:
The U.S. government has never been shy to criticize Iran over its dismal human-rights record, particularly since Tehran launched a crackdown on opposition voices following last summer’s election. But the U.S. stance remains considerably more subdued when Egypt, Washington’s biggest Arab ally in the region, exercises similar bad behavior. And the months ahead will test just how subdued it intends to be.
For Egypt, which receives an annual $1.3 billion in U.S. military aid, the equivalent of Iran’s election drama hasn’t unfolded yet. Parliamentary elections are still several months away, and presidential elections aren’t slated until next year. But there are signs of an imminent crackdown on opposition groups. U.S. silence on the issue suggests that Cairo may be able to avoid the international spotlight in a way that Tehran did not.
On Feb. 8, for example, Egyptian security forces arrested 16 members of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s most popular opposition group. Those arrested included three senior members, including the deputy leader, Mahmoud Ezzat. More than 30 others had been arrested in the two weeks prior to that. “They were arrested having done nothing except calling for reform and freedom and for adopting a moderate approach which Egypt needs the most at this time,” read a statement posted on the Muslim Brotherhood website on Feb. 9.
There’s an exquisite demonstration of how the term “moderate” is thrown about, with the hopes that people will project their own understanding of the term onto it without further inquiry.
This isn’t anything new for the Brotherhood. The group has been banned since 1954, but its popularity — derived mainly through Islamic charity work, calls for political reform and appeals to Muslim religiosity — makes it especially threatening to the authoritarian regime of President Hosni Mubarak. Even so, the Brotherhood has been tolerated to varying degrees over the years, the state having found a way to keep its members in check through a system of arbitrary arrests and detentions that rights groups say are illegal under international law. “It’s a repeated situation,” says Taha Ali, a political analyst at the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies, a Cairo NGO. “But this time, we’re going to see the parliamentary election in the upcoming period, so it’s a historical moment for the regime and the Brotherhood.”…