The Muslim Brotherhood is enraged at the U.S. government for criticizing the Egyptian government’s arrest of political activists and popular comedian Bassem Youssef. It fired off a series of angry tweets and warned the U.S. that it looks anti-Islamic, playing the “Islamophobia” card that Islamist groups have long used to discredit their opponents.
As we reported yesterday, Youssef was arrested and released on bail for criticizing President Morsi, inciting the public and allegedly insulting Islam, even though he himself is a Muslim. Youssef is voicing a defiant tone, vowing to “take it to even higher levels, we’re going to take it through the roof.”
The U.S. State Department said that the arrests are “evidence of a disturbing trend of growing restrictions on the freedom of expression” through spokeswoman Victoria Nuland. Ironically, it was Nuland who reassured the public in January 2012 when the second-in-command of the Muslim Brotherhood said the peace treaty with Israel might be put to a referendum.
That light expression of disapproval made the Muslim Brotherhood lose its temper. Its English-language website, IkhwanWeb, called it “a hasty, blatant interference in Egypt’s internal affairs” that “will have only one interpretation in the Egyptian street: the U.S. welcomes and defends contempt of religion by the media.”
The Brotherhood justified Youssef’s arrest by emphasizing that he is accused of denigrating Islam, not just criticizing President Morsi. “This contempt, if true, represents a serious breach of the law and a violation of customs and social and cultural constants in Egyptian society…” The Brotherhood also tweeted that it is a “threat to societal peace.”
The U.S. embassy in Cairo tweeted a video mocking President Morsi by Jon Stewart, the American comedian who Youssef’s models his program after. The segment pointed out Morsi’s hypocrisy and deception. The Muslim Brotherhood said the embassy committed an “undiplomatic and unwise move” that was “disregarding Egyptian law & culture.”
[ad]This doesn’t signal a change in approach by the U.S. towards Morsi, however. The U.S. embassy’s Twitter account was temporarily deleted on the orders of Ambassador Anne Patterson. When the account resurfaced, the tweet of the Stewart segment was gone. State Department spokeswoman Nuland said the tweet was a mistake and new regulations were being put into place.
The U.S. embassy in Cairo previously had a heated exchange with the Muslim Brotherhood via Twitter in September when the group was instigating protests in response to the anti-Islam Innocence of Muslims video.
In Arabic, the Brotherhood endorsed the protests, saying “Egyptians revolt for the Prophet’s victory in front of U.S. embassy.” In English, the Brotherhood said, “We r relieved none of #USEmbassyCairo staff were harmed & hope US-Eg [Egypt] relations will sustain turbulence of Tuesday’s events.”
[signup]The U.S. embassy’s response exposed the double-talk:
“Thanks. By the way, have you checked your own Arabic feeds? I hope you know we read those too.”
The Obama Administration wasn’t happy about the confrontation. The individual who wrote the tweet, Larry Schwartz, was brought back to the capital.
The U.S. embassy in Cairo sees through the Muslim Brotherhood and has exposed the Islamists deceit. The Obama Administration should follow its lead.
Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org's National Security Analyst and a fellow with the Clarion Fund. He is the founder of WorldThreats.com and is frequently interviewed on Fox News.
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