ONE PERSON’S TERRORIST MIGHT BE A UNITED STATES ALLY (Regardless of the Suit)

Journalists like Dalia Al-Aqidi, who has submitted her points of view on Arabs News, do not always share the truth. Perhaps some of you remember her as the woman who unsuccessfully ran against Ilhan Omar for her seat in Congress. Instead of online media being a progressive source of narrative-transforming reporting, we have come to have more than our share of literary leeches who exploit media venues. They savor the scorn to others, the mockery, the distortions, and jeering, along with narrow-minded readers, to form coalitions that berate ideas, increase a bit more of market share, and perhaps even collect a few political brownie points. Publicity outmaneuvers reality.

Unfortunately, the long history of the stigmatization of Islam, propelled by religious racism, and political arrogance, has made such maneuvers commonplace. Nevertheless, moderate Muslim organizations continued to make great efforts, loosening what has become a tightly sealed box after conservative groups who collude with Arab dictators to eliminate progressive Islamic movements throughout the world. Despite the deaths of many of the leaders within the Brotherhood, achievements were made that no one would have thought possible, some wore suits in parliaments, and others wore chains and handcuffs and subsequently died in prison. People who shut their eyes to reality simply invited their own destruction, and those who insisted on civil liberty and human rights refused to wait for mercy from dictators, generals, and monarchs who believed they were the people’s masters. If they died, it was with dignity and not on their knees.

For several decades worldwide political action evolved to extinguish the light on the Muslim Brotherhood’s organizational ideas infused with the dark deception of fictional dogma. However, for every action, there is a reaction. The endeavor was at the behest of an authoritarian government that could exchange its oil for eliminating the democracy desired by its people. No country with more than a fraction of its oil wealth per capita has ever successfully gone from dictatorship to democracy. Tagged “the oil curse” maintained that oil wealth leads to authoritarianism, economic instability, corruption, and violent conflict. Skeptics countered that such a correlation between oil and repression is a coincidence. Far from me to ever agree with Dick Cheney, but when the former CEO of Haliburton remarked at a 1996 energy conference that, “The problem is that the good Lord didn’t see fit to put oil and gas reserves where there are democratic governments,” his words came uncomfortably close to the truth. There is no getting around the fact civil society is less free when democracy is traded for oil. Even the most politically unschooled mind can perceive that oil and repression are not coincidental and Western consumption deserves much of the blame for this impasse.

It is grossly deceptive and inhumane when an attempt is made to obscure the most significant modern Islamic movement in the Middle East and beyond, with abstractions of “radicalism.” This journey requires a certain kind of familiarity with the increasing complexities of the movement’s history, political evolution, and the perception and temperament of its relationship to the current environmental turmoil originating with its formation. Why should President Recep Erdogan be silent when his perceptive analysis includes keenness of insight which consists of an inspection based on his scholarly understanding about the historical truths that piloted the movement of the Brotherhood? We all know there is no way to interrogate a corpse and ask why he has been made one. Are the Israeli Defense Force soldiers going to speak for 318 children recently shot to death with the US military hardware this country gave them? And who will speak for the Syrian children who died from chemical inhalation after being banned from the United States? For the most part, secrets are lies and are at the mercy of the facts that limit the truth. President Recip Erdogan was the voice for the 6,700 Rohingya, including at least 730 children under the age of five who was slaughter or tossed alive into fire a year ago. The world covered its ears at these Muslims burned alive. ” Erdogan spoke of a world which was not just a footnote on an op-ed. He narrated stories describing history and defined structures and human relationships that matched what he saw around me. His message to his supporters and his adversaries is human life is not an academic matter, it is not a political matter, it is a “human matter.” You may disagree with some of his decisions but you dare not disagree with his truth.

When the West, tainted by the hand of politics, looks out towards other parts of the world, it seems nothing but menacing strangers who appear different. Finding no reason to establish any sort of kinship, the Western mind does not know what kind of solution to make about these people except “when can we increase the defense budget?” They’re utterly devoid of insightfulness when they continuously ignore two military messages regarding Yemen, Libya, Tunisia, and as a rule, Palestine. First, one deals with “cause,” and the other deals with “effect,” meaning there is a “blessing” in bringing a child into the world: Second, however, it is a “pure evil” to bomb one out of it.

Perhaps, we cannot fault the junior journalist for her less than proficient attempt at responsible journalism. Investigative journalism involves major components: systematic, in-depth, and original research and reporting, often involving the excavating of privacy issues. Others note that its practice often involves using public records and data, focusing on social justice and answerability. It is a set of methodologies that are a craft, and it can take years to master. Since September 29, 2007, approximately 2,792 Palestinian children have been killed by terrorists in suits, the kind designed especially for Israeli Defense Forces. The design may depend on the regiment. They are tailor-made for the specific officer. Soldiers positioned in the ground forces wear olive green-colored “suits.”

There is a copoint to be made here. First, Americans are trained to deal with uncomfortable interaction- the fail-safe method of running in the opposite direction and other tools in our confrontation toolbox include changing the conversation or warding off stress with a cup of coffee from the local Starbucks skinny.

The Islamic movement recognizes that society is a system of interrelated parts functioning for the good of the whole. Thus, the authentic Muslim associations have a shared perception that all members of a democratic society view social problems from a position that recognizes that social institutions must be altered to meet changes in the social and physical environment. Additionally, Islam addresses society as a whole in terms of the function of its constituent elements, namely customs, purposes, patterns, and associations. It does not seek to dominate or use force to advance its cause. It simply advocates that the rights of Muslims should be embraced, as equally as possible, to each feature, custom, or practice and its effect on the functioning of a supposedly stable, cohesive system.

The individual is significant not in and of himself but rather in his ability, position in patterns of social relations, and the behaviors associated with his knowledge. Therefore, the social structure is the network of capabilities connected by associated roles.

The Muslim Brotherhood not a multitude of ISIS. It political perversity to portray it as part of a sociopathic, head-chopping, fraternity- why not try a more appropriate comparison like the House of Al-Saud.

The Muslim Brotherhood practices Islam, ISIS does not along with its cousin Al-Qaeda does not. The Muslim Brotherhood has promoted Islamic perspectives to the public and social and political activism among the disenfranchised, ISIS has not. After almost 100 years and 2.5 million followers, it remains the most prominent international Islamic organization, despite a succession of government intimidation and crackdown, gaining support throughout the Arab world without promoting violence. Self-protection is not the promotion of violence. As an Islamic social movement, the Brotherhood preached Islam, taught the uneducated, fed the poor, and set up hospitals and business enterprises, not ISIS. The movement officially rejects the use of violent means to secure its goals. While many other groups are engaged in a daily all-out armed confrontation with their governments, Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood strategists were the first to take a different tack, building resourceful economic, educational, political, and social networks they hoped will evolve. And evolve it did. It found a place in the hearts of the people because it protected the rights of the people. The Brotherhood was a threat to dictators and monarchs but a blessing to the people who suffered under them.

By far, the group’s most significant success with the politics of accommodation rather than confrontation emerged in Jordan. In 1992. without firing a shot, Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood won control of 34 of the 80 seats in Jordan’s Parliament, becoming the biggest bloc in the legislature. The organization proved to be committed to social justice and more equitable distribution of wealth, ending official corruption that had reached epidemic proportions in many Arab countries. Critical and liberating dialogue, which presupposes action, was conveyed to a beleaguered nation. The content of that dialogue was persuasive and adapted in accordance with the historical conditions of that time. By substituting monologue, slogans, and communique with discussion, successfully pushed the Muslim Brotherhood into the progressive role as spokespersons for the victims of political domestication. The movement garnered the reflective participation of a significant part of society and saved them from a slow-burning building.

The Muslim Brotherhood began as a movement, not a political party. Still, its members created political parties comparable to the Jordanian parliament. It spread to several countries with medical, educational, and social services through the Kuwaiti Muslim Brotherhood and Qatar, Oman, and other Arab footholds, who supported its social programs and a bold yet moderate political Islam.

The Brotherhood exerted its influence on social justice, eradicating poverty, corruption, and championing political freedom; just as Christians gave voice to its cause under dictums of democracy in America, so did Islamic communities as it transcended its previous homelands throughout the world. The organizational objectives remain devoted to these ethical attitudes. Groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda do not do so because if the roots are polluted, the tree branches grow nothing but poisonous fruit.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s political participation varies according to the domestic situation” of each branch, not its ideology. Regardless of history and evolutionary place in which the movement has grown, each generation of the Muslim Brotherhood recognized that everything that makes man’s life worthwhile — faith, family, home, employment, education, a place to raise one’s children- depends on choices of government. All of it can be taken away by a government that is not mindful of its people's rights and directives. It follows that the fundamental rights of any people can only be protected and preserved only when the government is obligated to answer to the people — not just to a prince or to those who believe in a specific creed, answer to a particular tribe; but respect the fact that each individual citizen is one of many and deserve the rights of all human beings.

The Brotherhood’s supporters did not learn about life through political guidebooks, examinations, and evaluations given in a dogmatic workshop; they learned through firsthand experiences about who retains control, how power is acquired, and how tyrants keep privilege and power whether academic, political, or cultural. The suffering masses of the Third World who were too cautious and tended to sentimentalize their situations received a bracing lesson in the economics of injustice. Unabated inequalities in the allocations of civil rights and endured systematic deprivation despite the wealth pocketed in the “suits” of generals who enjoyed their lawless authority over their people and maintain their authority by suppressing Islam and criminalizing traditional practices, and enforcing religious-cultural compromises. Above the ground or underground, the Muslim Brotherhood is ultimately the outcome of a debasing process created by systematic oppression but will not compromise their spiritual practices. Some call this politics. We call it Islam. Our religion is a way of life and our system of ethics is not divided into subdivisions. This factor has promoted the “Othering” of practicing Islamic populations and promoted systematic discrimination, labeling and classifying Muslims as those who did not fit in the norm designed by the Western analyst, allies, even liberal theorists, and most of all Middle East oppressors. The evidence is in the details and cannot be ignored.

Many Westerners seem to presume, as a matter of fact, that Muslims are “extremist.” This term is often used to explain a desire among Muslims to assert their human privileges in developing world affairs. Let us be objective. Islamic “extremist” is purposely being associated with militant movements that seek to undo the secularization for their own ideological objectives that have little to do with Islam or Islamic political order.

When asking ourselves, “are Muslims violent?” First, it is essential to give some texture to the answer. Which of the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims are we speaking about? Secular Muslims in Los Angeles, who fled the Iranian Revolution in multitudes and whose families came to America in the 1970s and ‘80s? Are we speaking of the thousands tortured and given stones to sleep on in Egypt? The Uighurs of Western China, who suffer under horrendous persecution from the officially atheist Chinese government? We could go on, but with more than a billion Muslims worldwide, making blanket conclusions about who they are and what they do, is problematic.

Yes, several Muslims commit violence in the name of their religion, and more express sympathies for terrorism. But if Islam was fundamentally violent, wouldn’t we presume the world to be swept up in daily bombings and murders committed by all Muslims everywhere? That certainly would fulfill the terrorists’ fantasies of a global conflagration of violence. If Islam demands violence, then there are not enough Muslims among those billions of believers who are submitting to the mandate requiring terrorism. The ordinary Muslim is not committing violence in Islam’s name. And let’s remember — if most Muslims are not committing acts of terror, then why is the religion held in contempt and Muslims treated with suspicion? These intolerant furies have been allowed to intrude on the religious as well as the political lives of Islamic practitioners.

So, where are democracy’s beliefs? This is the belief that each American, regardless of background, has equal standing in the public square? Are you sure? We have been put in concentration camps and banned from countries, marginalized, and excluded from social, political, and civic life.

The very minute we agree to use a person’s religion as a litmus test for terrorism is the minute that terrorism turns us into racists. Despite prejudice and resentment, practitioners of Islam we not reject the traditions, but we are willing to adapt to changing circumstances when with change we must. We are willing to suffer the discomfort of change to achieve a better future without compromising our true spiritual integrity. Regardless of legislated bigotry, Muslim people will strive hard to have a positive vision of the future, founded on the belief that one day the gap between the promises and the reality of democracy can one day be finally closed.

The Muslim Brotherhood does not engage in espionage and sabotage. Group strategy reads like a map. Follow the map, and you can see how much you have progressed towards your project objective and how far you are from your objective. Brotherhood methods consist of using universally accepted ad hoc methods, in a rational manner, for finding solutions to problems that burden Muslims worldwide. Unmistakable problems must have specific goals, clearly defined solution mechanisms, along clear expected resolutions. Aggression differs from assertiveness. Assertiveness is the quality of being confident without being aggressive.

Since 2011 there has been unprecedented convergence in policy across specific Arab monarchies — Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, and the UAE; in response to their citizen. These autocracies became conjoined. They have conspired and conjured the beginnings of a unified monarchical community, one predicated on a unique “pan-royal” identity that shared one distinct destiny as Arabs. They have generated new forms of repression, intensified bigotry, discrimination, and ethnic motivated crimes, besides religious rivalry and the evisceration of mass media. These are archetypal dictators who smile with appetites for injustice and nod with satisfaction in recognition of their exercise in maneuvering so that they can exist in moral seclusion with their imaginary conscience. But, all the while, right outside their palaces stand those hungry subordinates who they control, with uncaring satisfaction, to deny.

Strategy begins with a contest of ideas but ultimately making people who agree with you feel wiser by contributing to the political annihilating of a perceived adversary. Power and money speak the same language, and the dialect involved in attacking the Islamic movement is more persuasive than political facts. They believe it is worthwhile and do it all automatically and without thought because it has become such an ingrained part of the identity of these countries. This particular pattern has become part of them and will probably continue as an integral part of their character for the rest of their lives. It has become part of their passion and position. These royals enjoy deceit and are drawn to it. The idea that has been discounted is that their main objection to the Brotherhood isn’t radicalism — Riyadh has happily supported real terrorists in many countries — but their populism and perceived threat to the pretensions to the thrones of these royals. While Muslims widely embrace democracy and religious freedom, many also want religion to play a prominent role in politics.

The populism of a legitimate Islamic movement is perceived as a threat to the pretentiousness of the thrones and endangers these hereditary dictatorships. Mounting criticism of their capacity to consolidate power has increasingly become intimidating to these ambitious individuals who’ve created an economic and political caste system that ultimately diminishes the religious rights of those they govern. The Muslim Brotherhood is perceived as an unmistakable challenge, drastically following the election of Mohamad Morsy in Egypt, one of its prominent members. Mohamad Morsy, like so many members, had led a fascinating life that had involved dramatic changes in direction and, at one important moment, in the choice of his career, from a university professor to the President of Egypt. He was characteristically kind, a person who had character and virtues you do not see everywhere.

What is distinctive about the Brotherhood was that it armed itself against its oppressor with a theory and actions that changed the motion of conquest, who shaped the values and established the competence of the generations to come. Their obligation is, for this reason, all the greater-no matter how difficult the task, succeeded despite the odds.

While Muslims widely embrace democracy and religious freedom, many also want religion to play a prominent role in politics unsuppressed by those who wear the crown. The pharaohs’ marketing of ideas intentionally lacks clarity in its schemes and political policies, exposes no factual evidence to support their allegations of who the real criminals in the Middle East are, and their allegations lack authentication. Regrettably, perception is not a passive receipt of these political ploys but is shaped by expectations and desires. It is shaped by expectation and desires to obstruct, pervert, or defeat the course of justice. We collude in a desperate fraud if we believe that we can turn the tables of injustice in this land without the price of powerful opposition. This is not a teaching point alone. It is, by now, a well-embedded American delusion that this country sees all Islamist groups with a completely “unbiased” and “unfiltered” perception. There is a great deal of opinion that lies between perception and belief. Much of this advice we indulge in is a result of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt’s campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood and other moderate Islamic groups, which are attended to narrow the scope of freedom of thought, including political Islam.

False information and altered data sources have enabled leadership to allow the proliferation of information simply to create misperception, cause policymakers to believe something that is not true, or outright deny the truth. Denial and deception worked and led the target audience to propagate the “cover story” rather than the truth. The target audience has so far reacted in a way that serves the royal interests.

The Brotherhood group is not the first or the last to be targeted by the malicious arrows of kings with cruel intentions. Nevertheless, the confidence of the Muslim Brotherhood remains unshaken. It will continue to experience conflict. It will not be exempted; whether we choose to master it or let it master us will determine our destiny.

Western democracy is correctly accused of stigmatizing Muslims for their transnational and trans-ethnic solidarity that empowers their goal to practice their constitutional right to religion and protection of their right to believe. We cannot denounce every Muslim organization that attempts to advocate for change. True, the fundamental building block of Muslim movements should be Islam. However, the behavior of people is often defined by the group instead of Islam. “Social forces” can guide social relations and yield for society very positive outcomes (volunteerism, democracy, rules, and ethical standards of behavior) and very negative outcomes (violence, moral degeneration, and warfare). The teachings of a legitimate Islamic movement entail creating moral discipline within communities that examine the parts of the public sphere and create a more socially functional environment for all. And it is the task of principled Islamic councils to utilize credible doctrines to help construct the best form of civil society.

The International Brotherhood has mapped out discriminatory practices, exposed human rights violations, represented abused classes, trained and assisted groups that abused human rights, engaged the public, developed policymakers, and pushed for legal reform. For decades it advocated for sound policy by developing a cohesive system built by the people, for the people.

The individual is significant not in and of himself but rather in his status, position in patterns of social relations, and the behaviors associated with his status. Therefore, the social structure is the network of statuses connected by associated roles.

The Brotherhood asserted that Islam brings social justice, eradicating poverty, corruption, and political freedom. Just as Christians gave voice to its cause under dictums of democracy in America, so did Islamic communities as it transcended its previous homelands throughout the world. The organizational objectives remain devoted to these ethical attitudes. Groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda do not because if the roots are poisoned, the tree’s branches grow nothing but poisonous fruit.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s political participation varies according to the domestic situation” of each branch, not its ideology. However, regardless of history and space in which the movement has grown, each generation of the Muslim Brotherhood has recognized that everything that makes man’s life worthwhile — faith, family, employment, education, a place to raise one’s children, and a home to live in- depends on choices of government and that all can be taken away by a government which is not mindful of the directives of its people. It follows that the fundamental rights of any people can only be protected and preserved only when the government is obligated to answer to the people — not just to prince-, or to those who believe in a specific creed or belong to a particular tribe; but who citizen who is a member of many and has inherited the rights of the whole.

Some Muslims have come to believe that the flag to which they pledged their allegiance has not pledged allegiance to them. It has come as a great shock to discover that the country that is my birthplace and which we owe our reality and our individuality has not progressed enough to have any place for us in its entire system of authenticity. The hostility, the dejection, and the gap between one person and another based on religion and skin color have gathered so much speed throughout my life that when I open my eyes, I have a hard time trusting that my countrymen are able to trust me.

And now we must look to the future. First, we will heed the voice of the good people and recognize their common sense. If we do not, we not only blaspheme our spiritual heritage, we ignore the common ties that bind all Americans. Many fear the future. Many are distrustful of their leaders and believe that their voices are never heard. Many seek only to satisfy their private interests. But this is the great danger America faces — that we will cease to be one nation and become instead a collection of interest groups: city against suburb, region against region, individual against individual, each seeking to satisfy our personal desires. If that happens, who then will speak for America? Who then will speak for the common what is right and leave a legacy for our children?

America’s prominence in the world now sits on the sand, without a strong foundation to maintain a sturdy position. How does a country claim to be a democracy when it fails the challenge of supporting democracy for those who have been wrongly denied it for so long, banned without redress?

The Brotherhood movement’s motivation arose from a spiritual philosophy that sees the greatness of Islam, its people, mosques, neighborhoods, and communities–the institutions that foster and nourish values such as concern for others and respect for the rule of law under God. Islam instilled the conviction that God gave life, liberty, and all the dispositions and traditions that lead to prosperity in support of conviction and morality, both of which are indispensable reinforcements. Only through its work, prayers, and millions of supporters could its message survive oppressive regimes that enforced restrictions by their authority on each civilian’s way of life, behaviors, and political views. Respectable leaders did not approach their citizens with an overzealousness or destructive conscientiousness. They are not military drillmasters or directors in an assembly system of militants. They are well-skilled in opening small yet significant packages of innovative thinkers. They give the cord a pull but do it vigilantly. They do not yet know what is in the box or whether it is breakable. The ideals of the Muslim Brotherhood face opposition from the prevailing attitudes of tyrants and kings, who call themselves Muslim yet discard the time-tested values Islam is based upon.

We all wish that every religious scholar, every dissident, every unwavering journalist, every Jamal Khashoggi could stay safe in an age of moral compromise forever. We know they can’t. We have an acute awareness of what can happen. We try our best to shut it out. We want to believe that time and understanding defend such potential targets. You do not want to think too much of what may likely someday happen to those you respect and care about. These are lives that were put at risk, regimes hunted them down, but their integrity was not for sale. History has always been painful to write for those who do the writing and those who chose not to lie. Some died, others came away from living such an existence with deep discouragement about the social policies that shape conditions of existence for the people, but many inherited hope from the Muslim Brotherhood’s tenacity and courage and a sense of interest and appreciation for the particulars of the group’s emerging personality. The Brotherhood group is not the first or the last to be targeted by the malicious arrows with ruthless intentions.

The confidence of the Muslim Brotherhood remains unshaken. Its cause will remain a symbol of dignity, trustworthiness, and a mark of democracy whose faith is not changeable to satisfy others’ special interests. We all experience conflict; no one is exempt; whether we choose to master it or let it master us will determine our destiny.

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Dr. Khalilah Sabra, LL.M, (@khalilahsabra): Muslim American Doctorate in International Law, Executive Director (MAS Immigrant Justice Center)

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Khalilah Sabra

Khalilah Sabra

Dr. Khalilah Sabra, LL.M, (@khalilahsabra): Muslim American Doctorate in International Law, Executive Director (MAS Immigrant Justice Center)

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