Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, reacted quickly to the Egyptian government’s recognition of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political party.
In an alarmist statement, she denounced the recognition and called for the U.S. to isolate the Brotherhood:
Given its radical and violent ideology, it is deeply disturbing that the Muslim Brotherhood would be recognized in any way as a legitimate political entity.
The Muslim Brotherhood is committed to violence and extremism. Neither freedom nor justice will be advanced by any political party established by the Muslim Brotherhood.
United States policy must reflect this reality, and the Administration must not engage the Muslim Brotherhood, or allow direct or indirect U.S. assistance to benefit that organization.
This is essentially a call to exclude some 15 percent of Egypt’s population who said, according to a recent Gallup poll, they support the organization. And as former Jordanian foreign minister and current Carnegie Endowment Vice President Marwan Muasher said on Sunday, when talk shows zoomed in on the Brotherhood, excluding the group is a surefire way to make them more popular:
The Muslim Brotherhood has been used for a long time a scare tactic. This is not to say that they don’t have designs. But in closed systems protest votes will only go to the Muslim Brotherhood. But in open, pluralistic systems, the Brotherhood will have to compete against many other alternatives and I think that is the way that all Arab countries should go to.
Of course, as actual experts will tell you, the Muslim Brotherhood is not “committed to violence” (“Since the 1970s, the group has not engaged in violent activity.”); they are not “radical” (“[T]his is a very conservative movement.”); and the U.S. should not be afraid of Brotherhood:
Living with it won’t be easy but it should not be seen as inevitably our enemy. We need not demonize it nor endorse it. In any case, Egyptians now will decide their fate and the role they want the [Muslim Brotherhood] to play in their future.