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February 11, 2011

New York Times Fails to Insist Upon Factual Accuracy in Op-Ed by Muslim Brotherhood Leader

Over the years, the New York Times has affirmed that opinion pieces must adhere to a standard of accuracy. Former editorial page editor Gail Collins stated that columnists "are obviously required to be factually accurate." Op-ed page editor David Shipley explained in 2005 that "before something appears on our pages, you can bet that questions have been asked, arguments have been clarified...and factual, typographical and grammatical errors have been caught." Shipley then presented an example describing how an op-ed had to be revised because it attempted to argue a point based on erroneous facts.

On Feb. 10, 2011, the Times published an op-ed by Essam El-Errian, a member of the guidance council of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, that does precisely what Shipley warned against. El-Errian argued that

in more than eight decades of activism, the Muslim Brotherhood has consistently promoted an agenda of gradual reform. Our principles, clearly stated since the inception of the movement in 1928, affirm an unequivocal position against violence.

Mr. El-Errian’s piece skates over some important history of the Muslim Brotherhood’s activities. From 1936 until the Egyptian government cracked down on it in 1949, the Brotherhood had a paramilitary wing that carried out numerous assassination attempts against Egyptian and British officials and acts of violence against Jews both in Palestine and in Egypt. Regardless of whether one accepts the Muslim Brotherhood's current denunciation of violence (in Egypt, it still calls for jihad against Israel and American forces in the region), it is false to argue that it has always "unequivocally" advocated non-violence.

For further details on the history of the Brotherhood's violent past see below.

Barbara H.E. Zollner describes the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood’s paramilitary wing which was active from 1936 through 1949, until the Egyptian government suppressed it. In her book, The Muslim brotherhood: Hasan al-Hudaybi and Ideology, under the chapter heading, "The Secret Unit and Violence,? Zollner writes,

Like other political movements of the time, the Brotherhood had its own paramilitary unit, which was known as Secret Unit (Al-jihaz al-Siri) or Special Organization (Al-Nizam al-Khass). The beginnings of the combat unit go back to 1936, when the Brotherhood sent volunteers and arms to Palestine in support of the uprising. From then on the organization ran camps, where volunteers were instructed in guerilla warfare.

Its leader, Samih al-Ashmawi, was named deputy [second in command] of the Brotherhood in 1947. According to Zollner, the Brotherhood initially steered its military activities against the Jews and British in Palestine. In 1948, the Brotherhood raised an army of volunteers to invade the newly established state of Israel. But increasingly, the Brotherhood’s violent activities were directed towards domestic targets and threatened the Egyptian government.

In the year of 1948, the struggle between the Brotherhood and the then ruling Sa’adi government, under prime minister al-Nuqrashi, accelerated into a state of near persistent violence... there is no doubt that the Brotherhood was linked to an increasing number of assassination attempts, to the incitement of terror and to growing anti-Jewish violence.

This culminated in the assassination of Egyptian Prime Minister Mahmoud al-Noqrashi in January, 1949. Ibrahim al-Houdaiby, a great grandson of the Muslim Brotherhood’s second leader and grandson to its sixth leader, describes how the Brotherhood steered away from violence after the Egyptian government cracked down on it. In an article published by the Hudson Institute, The Primacy of Values, al-Houdaiby warns though that more Brotherhood recruits are familiar with the radical vision of ideologue Said Qutb than they are with the non-violent approach promoted by his great grandfather.

Qutb was executed by the Egyptian government after being arrested for planning violent acts against the Egyptian government. The Brotherhood officially renounced violence against the Egyptian government in ther 1970s after coming under pressure. To this day, however, its leaders, including the current General Guide, Mohammed Badie, advocate jihad against "foreign occupiers" and "Zionists."

Posted by SS at February 11, 2011 04:32 PM


It's painfully obvious to anyone who really is interested in facts (this sadly excludes what's become of the NY Times), that the Muslim Brotherhood is an organization which is rooted in Islamic fundamentalism and committed to violence against any who it opposes, including Israel but also moderates and pro-democracy types in Egypt.

They also assasinated Sadat and were the group from which Osama bin Laden sprung. What more do we need to know--no matter how deceptive their "p.r." is!

Posted by: Al Neuman at February 18, 2011 12:53 AM

While it has committed acts of violence in the past, the Muslim Brotherhood has refrained from committing any acts of violence for decades and has adopted a very moderate approach; something that should be applauded. Also the Muslim Brotherhood is not responsible for the assassination of Anwar Sadat, it was carried out by the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (Islamic Jihad) and the plan was hatched with Al Gamaa al- Islamiyya; The MB was not involved.

Posted by: Angie Gad at March 21, 2012 09:48 AM

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