Voices from the Arab Press: The Brotherhood’s culture of lies

A weekly selection of opinions and analyses from the Arab media around the world

MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD members and supporters of Egyptian president Mohamed Mursi display his photo at Cairo’s Raba El-Adwyia mosque square, July 2013.  (photo credit: KHALED ABDULLAH/FILE PHOTO/REUTERS)
MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD members and supporters of Egyptian president Mohamed Mursi display his photo at Cairo’s Raba El-Adwyia mosque square, July 2013.
(photo credit: KHALED ABDULLAH/FILE PHOTO/REUTERS)

THE BROTHERHOOD’S CULTURE OF LIES

Akhbar Al-Youm, Egypt, April 1
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During tribulations and crises, people rally around their flag and do whatever they can to protect their homeland – except for the Muslim Brotherhood. Unlike most patriots, Brotherhood members are happy when disasters and calamities befall their nation. This helps them spread conspiracy theories, divert attention away from their unlawful activities, and provide room for political chaos that can empower them. In the Brotherhood’s view, their dream of achieving power justifies any type of behavior. Thankfully, the Brotherhood ruled Egypt for a year, so the Egyptian people were exposed to the movement’s addiction to power and treacherous ways. They learned the hard way just how conniving and immoral the Brotherhood is capable of being. 
Unlike the average Egyptian, Brotherhood members view Egypt as a part of a larger Islamic caliphate; to them, there are no Egyptian borders or Egyptian national sovereignty. The Brotherhood’s lies have been adopted from Nazi propaganda. According to the Brotherhood’s worldview, there are no gray areas, only black and white. For example, when a mosque had to be relocated in Alexandria to allow for a new highway to be built, the Brotherhood ignored the fact that the Egyptian government rebuilt it at a new location. To them, the issue was plain and simple: One is either in favor or against destroying mosques. There was no room for a third, more nuanced, option. 
Since the Brotherhood’s inception, the movement has made use of lies to promote its agenda. Its strategy is simple: Repeat a lie enough times in front of enough people and it becomes the truth. Let’s not forget the empty promises made by Brotherhood leaders in the past: things like the “rivers of honey” promised by Essam al-Arian or the “Egyptian renaissance” promised by Mohammed Morsi. They are not ashamed of lying. For 50 years, they swore that they did not attempt to assassinate Gamal Abdel Nasser, even though it was clear to all that they did. 
Similarly, for decades they promoted the so-called memoir of Zainab al Ghazali, the founder of the Muslim Women’s Association, who recalled her supposed torture in an Egyptian prison. It was later revealed that the accounts were made up by an aspiring author. More recently, the movement claimed that the Rabaa sit-in – which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of civilians – was strictly peaceful. However, an imprisoned Brotherhood leader recently admitted that Brotherhood protesters came to the square “fully armed,” including with rifles, ammunition, grenades and Molotov cocktails. –Karam Jabr

LESSONS FOR THE IRAQI PEOPLE FROM SUDAN

Al-Mada, Iraq, April 2
The events unfolding these days in Sudan are a stark reminder to all of us that change can happen with simple tools, thanks to ordinary people who are willing to dedicate everything they have to fight for their country. Young Sudanese men and women managed to completely transform their country’s political system and bring an end to 30 years of misery under former president Omar al-Bashir. While the popular protests in Iraq were hijacked by opportunists, those in Sudan managed to galvanize the masses and bring about real social change. 
One of the most beautiful and iconic scenes emerging from Sudan’s demonstrations was that of Alaa Salah, who was depicted standing on top of a car while speaking to a crowd of female protesters gathered around her. Women constituted the overwhelming majority of participants in these demonstrations. They ultimately led to an agreement with the government that officially separates religion from state and guarantees freedom of worship to everyone in Sudan. 
For years, our politicians have been promoting decisions that silence all those who demand the establishment of a civil state. Time and again these lawmakers appear on media outlets and warn that separating religion from state will lead to more immoral behavior and indecency. But the truth is that the Sudanese experience tells us a different story: that these doomsday prophecies are nothing more than our politicians’ way of oppressing and subjugating the masses. 
Our politicians talk about religious morals and ideals and warn against the secularization of Iraq while the poverty rate in our cities shot up to nearly 50%. The Sudanese people lived for 30 years under the dictatorship of a religious state led by Bashir. In one moment, they succeeded in toppling him and bringing about a complete separation of religion from state institutions. Meanwhile, in Iraq, our politicians continue insisting on issuing laws that restrict our freedoms and undermine our liberties. Indeed, the very same people talking about religious norms and values are those promoting the most unethical laws that undermine our ability to build a better future for Iraq. –Ali Hussein

THE CURSE OF THE PHARAOHS

Al-Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, April 2
Last Saturday, 40 mummies and sarcophagi were transferred from the Egyptian Museum located in Tahrir Square to a brand new hall located in the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization. The mummies we moved in a glittering display in the heart of Cairo in what was named “The Pharaohs’ Golden Parade.” The new museum, located just a few miles away, is working on a seven-year development plan that will ultimately qualify it to enter the World Heritage List as a member heritage site. The mummies and sarcophagi are an important milestone in achieving that designation. 
Upon arrival at the museum, the artifacts were placed inside special nitrogen capsules that will preserve and protect them. Ironically, some Egyptians and Arabs ignored the celebratory occasion and claimed that the moving of the artifacts will bring bad luck to Egypt – and could partially explain recent incidents and tragedies that have struck the nation. These people cite the so-called “curse of the pharaohs,” alleged to be cast upon anyone who disturbs the mummy of an ancient Egyptian. They evoke the story of the Titanic that sank in 1912, supposedly because it was carrying a pharaonic mummy owned by Lord Centerville. 
Another oft-cited story is that of the Caliph Al-Ma’mun, who entered the Great Pyramid of Giza in 832 and died a year later. The truth is that Al-Ma’mun’s likely died of natural causes due to the inhaling of ammonia and hydrogen sulfide – two highly toxic gases – found inside the tombs. What is more likely is that the myths surrounding the so-called “curse of the pharaohs” was an attempt to intimidate thieves and keep them away from graves. Indeed, the phrase was invented by the ancient Egyptians themselves to protect their graves. 
In 1922, The New York Times ran a story on the curse following the death of Lord Carnarvon, a notable British aristocrat and tomb explorer who discovered Tutankhamen’s tomb. The attempts to evoke this ancient myth of a curse only serves to undermine Egypt’s national achievement in establishing this world-class museum and to undermine the widespread reforms enacted by the Egyptian government today. –Badr bin Saud 
Translated by Asaf Zilberfarb.