U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, meets with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, right, at the presidential palace in Cairo on July 14, 2012. Clinton hoped to use her first meeting with Egypt’s new Islamist president on Saturday to steer Mohammed Morsi toward opening a dialogue with the military that could end the country’s political crisis. Photo: AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski / NTB
In a clear message directed to a possible US administration under Joe Biden, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have warned against supporting the Muslim Brotherhood organization. They state that it gives birth «to extremist terrorist groups who wreak havoc on the country and the people.»
On November 10, Saudi Arabia’s Council of Senior Scholars, the kingdom’s highest Islamic religious body, issued a warning amid growing fear in some Arab countries that a Biden administration may return to former President Barack Obama’s policy of empowering and appeasing the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Saudi warning was immediately endorsed by Egypt’s senior Islamic religious institute, Dar al-Ifta, and prominent Egyptian writers and political analysts.
The Muslim Brotherhood, which has congratulated Biden on his disputed victory in the US presidential election, is hoping that if and when he becomes president, he will not classify the organization as a terrorist group.
The Council of Senior Scholars, in a strongly worded statement, said that the Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist group and «does not represent the true values of Islam.»
The Council described the Brotherhood as a «deviant group that undermines coexistence within nations, stirs up sedition, violence and terrorism and pursues its partisan goals in an attempt to seize more power for itself under the cover of religion. The history of the organization of one of evil, strife, extremism and terrorism.»
The Council said that the history of the Muslim Brotherhood reveals the full scale of the evil for which it is it is responsible and that it has inspired the formation of many extremist and terrorist groups that are responsible for atrocities all around the world.
The Council called on the public to be wary of the Muslim Brotherhood and its activities, and urged them not to join it, support it or become involved with its activities.
In 2014, Saudi Arabia blacklisted the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. Three years later, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt issued a joint statement in which they listed as terrorists 59 individuals, including prominent Muslim Brotherhood figures, and 12 charities of various nationalities.
The London-based Arab Weekly newspaper noted this month:
«Followers of Saudi affairs did not rule out that the statement of the Council of Senior Scholars was a response to the Muslim Brotherhood’s exaggerated enthusiasm over Joe Biden’s victory in the US presidential elections and its probable negative impact on Saudi-American relations.
«These observers pointed out that, behind the Council’s statement, there is a Saudi message saying that the Brotherhood’s rush to welcome and embrace Biden and its attempts to win his sympathy while inciting against important countries in the region will not change Saudi Arabia’s steadfast position of considering the group a terrorist organisation and a real incubator for all militant groups.»
Abdullatif Al-Sheikh, the Saudi Minister of Islamic Affairs, responding to the Council’s statement, said that he has «warned against the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist organization for more than 20 years.» He said that his warning came out of concern for «our religion, our country, our citizens, and all Muslims.»
Al-Sheikh’s statement is also seen by Arabs as a warning to Biden after the Muslim Brotherhood congratulated him on his «victory.»
Egypt’s Dar al-Ifta, an Islamic advisory, judicial and governmental body that offers Muslims religious guidance and advice through the issuing of fatwas (Islamic rulings) on various issues, expressed full support for the Saudi Council of Senior Scholar’s statement against the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Egyptian group, also in a message seemingly directed to Biden, pointed out that the Muslim Brotherhood «always seeks to divide societies and spread chaos and incite citizens to riot and engage in violence.»
«The statement of the [Saudi] Council of Senior Scholars came after a long and careful study of the methodology and thinking of the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood organization, which views non-Muslims as infidels… We call on various religious bodies, institutions and councils in the countries of the Islamic world to criminalize and prohibit the terrorist Brotherhood and to disavow it. The group’s extremism and violence are an inherent feature of its ideology, and there is no point in reforming or changing it.»
Arab political analysts and experts in Islamic fundamentalist movements said they considered the statement of the Council of Senior Scholars in Saudi Arabia as «a new blow to the terrorist group» and that it exposes the group’s «tricks to attract young people to its deviant discourse.»
The analysts and experts added that the world has realized that the existence of this terrorist organization represents a real threat to the identity and stability of states, stressing that the Muslim Brotherhood group does not represent the approach of Islam.
Saudi political analyst Dr. Ahmed al-Rukban said that the Council of Senior Scholars is the legislative body in the Kingdom and is considered reliable on the issues of the Arab and Islamic nation with regard to domestic and foreign policy.
Al-Rukban warned that the Muslim Brotherhood and its followers have always used Islam «to penetrate many sectors and agencies in Saudi Arabia and other countries.» The Muslim Brotherhood, he added, is financially supported by Turkey.
Mounir Adeeb, a researcher on Islamic extremist movements and international terrorism, said that the statement of the Council of Senior Scholars reveals the truth of the Muslim Brotherhood. He praised the Council for its «bold, brave and clear» description of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization.
Saudi writer Mohammed Al-Saaed revealed that after the Muslim Brotherhood was outlawed in Saudi Arabia in 2014, «the terrorist group secretly tried to sneak back through the window.» The Brotherhood activists sought to «jump on the technocratic jobs that began to spread in the wake of the great development in the kingdom and to infiltrate and attack society whenever the opportunity arises,» he commented.
Noting that the Muslim Brotherhood carried out several terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia between 2003 and 2006, Al-Saaed wrote: «The terrorist organization has become a despicable and treacherous organization.»
Egyptian Islamic scholar Saad Eddin Al-Hilali expressed concern that Biden, if elected, will continue in the footsteps of Obama and endorse the Islamists. Al-Hilali called on Egyptians to be wary of the Islamists, «who were previously supported by Obama and will now be supported by Biden.» Biden, he said, «will complete Obama’s march, but I want to remind the Egyptians that Egypt rejected political Islam [by removing Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood member, from power]. Now, Egypt stands firmly on its feet and is saying no to trafficking in religion.»
Egyptian media personality Mustafa Al-Faqi also expressed concern over the possibility that a Biden administration would embrace the Muslim Brotherhood. «Biden endorsed the approach of Obama, who wanted to spread Islamism in the region,» Al-Faqi said. «Obama saw the Muslim Brotherhood as part of the national opposition. This is nonsense.»
The Saudis and Egyptians are hardly the only Arabs who are worried about a renewed alliance between a Democrat-led administration and the Islamists.
Several Arab political analysts and columnists, particularly in the Gulf, have voiced similar sentiments. The message they are sending to Biden and the Democrats is: We do not want to go back to the bad old days when the US administration aligned itself with Islamist terrorist groups.
These Arabs are determined to prevent the Islamists from returning to power in Egypt or raising their heads in other Arab countries. It remains to be seen if the future US administration will cooperate in this effort.
Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist based in Jerusalem, is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at Gatestone Institute.