The Atlantic is reporting that the Obama administration "insisted" that at least ten members of the Muslim Brotherhood attend Obama's speech in Cairo on Thursday. The Brotherhood is a highly controversial group of hardline, ultra-conservative Islamic extremists:
It has deep roots in the region and traces its intellectual lineage to Sayyid Qutb, a top American-educated Islamic intellectual who was executed -- or martyred -- by the Egyptian government in 1966.The Brotherhood have aided the Hamas rise to power in Palestine. Egypt is a crucial battleground, and Egypt has been fighting back - jailing key "Brothers," and in general cracking down on the organization. As a result, they have lost some power in Egypt but a leader is quoted as saying they will fight back as they have always done. Rep. Pete Hoekstra is asking "what kind of signal are we sending?" and he commented that the President is taking some very big risks by "unilaterally putting out these olive branches."
Though the hard-line group, which calls for an Islamic state and has close ties to the militant Hamas, is officially banned in Egypt, its members have considerable sway in the country and its lawmakers, who run as independents, hold 88 seats in Egypt's 454-seat parliament. Scott Wheeler, director of the National Republican Trust PAC, slammed the administration for apparently allowing the Muslim Brotherhood into the event. In a written statement, he charged that the group is linked to "international terrorists attacks, advocates suicide bombings, and the very founders of Hamas." "The American people did not vote for President Barack Hussein Obama to make peace with Muslim terrorists," he said in the statement.Fox News is reporting that the group is not on the State department's official list of foreign terrorist groups, and in contrast to The Atlantic report, says officials ("which officials" is not explained) say that this is not Obama's invitation; that all invitations were sent out by Cairo University and Al-Azhar University. On the Muslim Brotherhood website, Ikhwan, two articles on the homepage give some insight and explain what our American president must do: Obama in Egypt: A Vision for Democracy Promotion by Michael A. Cohen, World Politics Review
Policy statements and decisions by top officials are sending a more disturbing signal. In February, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that china's adherence to global human rights standards, or lack thereof, can't interfere with larger economic and security concerns. The administration has even acceded to Egyptian demands that economic assistance not be used to support civil society groups and has slashed funds for democracy promotion by 60 percent.It's always about our money, isn't it? Commentary: Obama must speak to young Muslims Fawaz A. Gerges, CNN - Egypt
The challenge facing Obama is to strike a balance between foreign policy concerns and bread-and-butter issues and to convince the youth, by far the largest constituency, that America feels their pain, supports their participation and inclusion in political and social life and opposes the violation of their human rights, period.That's a very odd statement. A young Muslim's political views are very different from the political views of any mainstream American. What is there for us to support other than encouragement to get out of their oppressive situation. If Obama opposes "the violation of their human rights, period," what does that mean? Who is violating their civil rights? If not their own ideology and government, can they be speaking of profiling in the United States? The article goes on to detail the miserable existence for young people in Egypt, even highly educated youth. There are no jobs. Most everything is blamed on "pro-Western Muslim rulers such as Mubarak." Gerges says that under Mubarak the rich has gotten richer and everyone else is "either poor or on the brink of poverty. Repression and corruption are pervasive, and legitimate dissent is forbidden." The truth is, this is the reality of life in any Muslim country. More challenges for Obama from CNN's Gerges:
...the widespread belief that the U.S. blindly supports Israel at the expense of powerless Palestinians, that America wages a war against Islam and that it sustains autocratic Muslim rulers who oppress their citizens and deny them basic rights. Equally important, the president cannot afford to ignore the plight of millions of voiceless Muslims, particularly the youth, who feel marginalized and ghettoized with no stake in the existing order.So there's a hint how the Muslim Brotherhood sees Barack Obama. Apparently, they also think he's The One (their version of The One, whatever that may be.)