Following significant military successes and diplomatic gains by Syria’s anti-Bashar Assad Sunni Muslim insurgency over recent weeks, Moscow, a key Assad regime ally, announced Tuesday 12/18/12 its preparations for an evacuation of Russian citizens living in Syria.
While the Assad regime’s ruling Alawite minority sect retained a firm hold on their indigenous base in the coastal Syrian provinces, the predominantly Sunni Muslim Syrian rebels have seized the northern and eastern border zones, near Turkey and Iraq, respectively, and dominate wide swathes of rural Syria. The continued rebel assault is even advancing on Assad’s seat of power, Damascus, near the western frontier of Lebanon, having just seized the pro-Assad Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk, on the southern edge of the Syrian capital.
By Wednesday, the rebels had reportedly captured at least six towns in the central Hama governorate (Latamneh, Helfaya, Kfar Naboudah, Hasraya, Tibat al-Imn, and Kfar Zita), with skirmishes erupting in the city of Hama itself. As of Friday, the Sunni insurgents were besieging Morek, an Alawite stronghold in Hama governorate, a province which contains dozens of Alawite and Christian villages among Sunni towns, igniting fears of increased sectarian violence.
During an interview with Barbara Walters on December 11, President Obama announced the U.S. would formally recognize the recently established Syrian National Coalition of Revolution and Opposition Forces (SNCROF), an umbrella group seeking to depose Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. Mr. Obama extolled the SNCROF for its inclusiveness, allegedly being open to various ethnic and religious groups, and bonds to local councils participating in the fight against Assad’s security forces. He opined:
At this point we have a well-organized-enough coalition — opposition coalition that is representative — that we can recognize them as the legitimate representative of Syrian people.
Independent analysts sympathetic to the anti-Assad forces, have concluded that the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood remains the dominant force in SNCROF, as it had been in the earlier Syrian National Council opposition front. London-based Syrian journalist Malik Al-Abdeh noted:
The Muslim Brotherhood seems to be in the dominant position … However, the West feels compelled now to legitimize the Syrian opposition in whatever guise it may take, simply because of the fast pace of events on the ground in Syria.
Andrew Tabler, cofounder and former editor-in-chief of Syria Today, maintained: “The [Muslim Brotherhood-dominated] SNC [Syrian National Council] is still a major player.” Tabler also expressed this ominous concern:
And that’s just the civil end. The armed groups within the country are not included in this coalition directly. How is that going to work?
Apropos to Tabler’s worry and concurrent with President Obama’s recognition of SNCROF on December 11, the U.S. State Department designated the Syrian jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra a terrorist organization, amending the 2004 designation of al-Qaeda affiliate Islamic State of Iraq (AQISI), and declaring there was “sufficient factual basis” to conclude AQISI, under the guise of Jabhat al-Nusra, was operating in Syria. Justifying the designation, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland stated the group had claimed responsibility for almost 600 attacks in several cities during the past year, including homicide bombings, which had caused the deaths of “numerous innocent Syrians.” She added:
[Al Nusra] has sought to portray itself as part of the legitimate Syrian opposition while it is, in fact, an attempt by AQI [i.e., AQISI, Al-Qaeda affiliate Islamic State of Iraq] to hijack the struggles of the Syrian people for its own malign purposes.
Public Syrian denunciations of the State Department’s formal labeling of Jabhat al-Nusra as a terrorist group were swift and often fierce, running the gamut from the Syrian opposition website Sooryoon.net, and the mass vox populi demonstrations of anti-Assad Syrian civilian populations, to the SNCROF leadership itself (including comments by SNCROF’s anti-Western, antisemitic, titular leader, Sheikh Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib).
Anticipating the State Department’s 12/11/12 designation of Jabhat al-Nusra as terrorists, Sooryoon.net had posted articles (on December 6 and 7, 2012) which recognized Jabhat Al-Nusra’s efforts in damaging Assad’s regime, while objecting to the motives of the (then) looming U.S. action. Sooryoon.net claimed the U.S. sought to blunt the burgeoning support and gratitude Jabhat Al-Nusra has garnered among the Syrians. Moreover, regarding Jabhat Al-Nusra’s avowed goal of establishing a strictly Sharia-compliant Islamic state following removal of the Assad regime, the Syrian opposition website insisted there was “nothing wrong” with this openly proclaimed aspiration, acknowledging it was shared by multitudes of Syrians, especially members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Sooryoon.net also warned the SNC/SNCROF leadership not to accept Jabhat Al-Nusra’s terrorist designation, while urging vigorous opposition to the U.S. action, and encouraging FSA leaders and members, and all Syrians, to declare their solidarity with Jabhat Al-Nusra. By December 11, Sooryoon.net cautioned the U.S. against intensifying its hostility toward Jabhat Al-Nusra, adding such measures would be counterproductive at any rate, and would swell the jihadist group’s popularity among the Syrian Muslim masses. The website further chastised the U.S. for allegedly missing opportunities to be effectively involved in Syria, and even forewarning that any direct U.S. commitment now would transform the country into an American graveyard.
Sooryoon.net’s rallying cry was amplified by social media outlets which called upon Syrians to participate in Jabhat Al-Nusra solidarity rallies on December 14, organized around the slogan: “No to American Involvement [in Syria] — We Are All Jabhat Al-Nusra.” Heeding such admonitions, thousands of Syrians took to the streets decrying the U.S. for blacklisting Jabhat Al-Nusra, holding aloft slogans which proclaimed: “There is no terrorism in Syria except that of Assad.” Demonstrators in the Eastern Ghuta region on the outskirts of Damascus, subjected to regular air raids by the Assad regime army, held up a sign reading: “Thank you to all the ‘terrorists’ in Syria who are fighting Assad. We are all Al-Nusra Front.” Al-Jazeera correspondent Zeina Khodr interviewed a participant at a Jabhat Al-Nusra solidarity rally in the northern Syrian province of Idlib, who asserted:
We want Sharia law, and no peace with Israel. They [the Free Syrian Army] shouldn’t compromise and fall under the West’s influence.
And holding aloft the well-recognized black flag of jihadists (with the Islamic confession of faith, or “shehada”, inscribed) demonstrators supporting Jabhat Al-Nusra in Daraa, southwestern Syria, near the Jordanian border (as captured in video posted on December 14, 2012), chanted:
Obama, there is no terrorism in Syria. Obama, there is no terrorism in Syria.
Obama, there is no terrorism in Syria. Obama, there is no terrorism in Syria.
Obama, the army is the terrorist. Obama, the army is the terrorist. Obama, the army is the terrorist. Obama, the army is the terrorist. Obama, the army is the terrorist. Obama, the army is the terrorist.
Oh world, there is no terrorism in Syria. Oh world, there is no terrorism in Syria.
Oh world, there is no terrorism in Syria. Oh world, there is no terrorism in Syria.
Oh world, there is no terrorism in Syria. Oh world, there is no terrorism in Syria.
Oh [Jabhat] Al-Nusra, we love you to death. Oh [Jabhat] Al-Nusra, we love you to death.
Oh [Jabhat] Al-Nusra, we love you to death. Oh [Jabhat] Al-Nusra, we love you to death.
Most significantly, echoing these vox populi denunciations, on December 12 Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood — whose Syrian National Council dominates the newly created, American-endorsed SNCROF — issued a statement objecting vociferously to the US terrorist designation for Jabhat al-Nusra:
We in the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria believe that some states’ decision to add revolutionary movements [i.e., Jabhat al-Nusra] in Syria to their lists of terrorist organisations was a hurried, wrong move that should be condemned … [and] contradicts the idea of supporting the project of freedom and human dignity … The first and only terrorist on Syrian territory is Bashar al-Assad and his criminal gangs. Assad is the one who has used weapons that are forbidden under international law, bombarding innocent civilians…(and) slaughtering hundreds of women and children.
The designation is very wrong and too hasty. I think it is too early to categorise people inside Syria this way, considering the chaos and the grey atmosphere in the country.
A May 1, 2012 report by investigative journalist John Rosenthal highlighted that the so-called Friends of Syria — notably the U.S. — had recognized the Syrian National Council (SNC) as “a legitimate representative of all Syrians” at an April 1, 2012 meeting in Istanbul, Turkey. Rosenthal added:
U.S. State Department statements both before and after the Istanbul meeting leave no doubt that the Obama administration treats the SNC as its principal Syrian interlocutor. The SNC is also the presumptive recipient or at least conduit of the aid that the Obama administration has pledged to the Syrian opposition…[According to] Belgian Syria expert Thomas Pierret, a lecturer in contemporary Islam at the University of Edinburgh… the Muslim Brotherhood controls the council’s “commission on humanitarian aid” and thereby the distribution of SNC funds in Syria.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met in Istanbul with SNC representatives during the April 2012 Friends of Syria event. Immediately thereafter, she praised the SNC for “working hard to organize different Syrians behind a unified approach,” promising “there will be more assistance of all kinds for the Syrian National Council.”
Hillary Clinton’s April 1, 2012 statements, and President Obama’s December 11, 2012 pronouncements, are pathognomonic of how contemporary American policymakers (and Syria analysts) willfully ignore the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood’s Weltanschauung — a toxic amalgam of Sharia supremacism, anti-Westernism, and Jew- and other “infidel” hatred — continuously reaffirmed over six decades. Thus, despite the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood-controlled SNC having morphed into the SNC/ Syrian Muslim Brotherhood-dominated SNCROF, both “Syrian rebel” entities are recognized and supported by America.
Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood “Hama Rulers”
A Carnegie Endowment biographical sketch of current Syrian Muslim Brotherhood deputy comptroller and SNC deputy chairman Mohammed Farouk Tayfour maintains that he is the Brotherhood’s “most influential organizational and political figure,” adding: “Tayfour is one of a triumvirate of Hama natives who now hold the reins of power within the Brotherhood.”
Hama (2011 census, 698,928), is Syria’s fourth-largest city after Aleppo, Damascus, and Homs. The provincial capital of the Hama Governorate, Hama is situated on the banks of the Orontes River in west-central Syria, (132 miles) north of Damascus.
Itzchak Weismann’s 1993 analysis of Hama [Hamah] native and Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Said Hawwa noted that there were four families — including the Tayfur [Tayfour] family –“whose rule in both the city and its villages was almost absolute.” Accordingly, “[n]inety-two out of 114 villages of the district belonged to them … [i.e.,]the members of the large families who would represent Hamah in the nationalist movement and parliament.” Five decades earlier, Robin Fedden’s Syria: An Historical Appreciation (London, 1947, pp.221-222) captured the combined effects of the “terrifying power” of zealous Islamic communalism, and class hierarchy — “faith and feudalism” — so evident during his mid-1940s visit to Hamah:
Islam colours its temper, and there can be few places outside the Holy Cities of Arabia where the Faith has remained so aggressive and fanatic. As in the eighteenth century, the Muslim is ipso facto the master and the Christian dog exists on sufferance. As for Jews, not one is allowed in the town. [emphases added] Faith prohibits the sale of alcoholic drinks in hotels and public places … All the women are veiled with the greatest strictness … Even the Syrian Christians adopt a protective mimicry, veiling their women and assuming a Muslim pose whenever they can, while the sisters of the Sacré Coeur are obliged to tuck their crucifixes out of sight when they go abroad. The mosques are always crowded at prayer time and the movement of the suks seems to overflow into them spontaneously. Faith intrudes even on merchandising … There are times when the intensity of the town’s belief seems to excuse all that it involves of intolerance and prejudice.
The Great Mosque … is the focus of Hama’s life. It is built upon the site of an earlier Byzantine basilica [church]. The carved lintel and capitals of what was once presumably the west door of the church are particularly fine … That even such stone reminiscences should remain is recognizably fortuitous where the tide of Islam runs so strongly and so deep. These stones are merely debris, incorporated into a now Muslim wall, and its at Hama that the stranger understands better than elsewhere in the country what must have been the initial force which overspread half the Byzantine Empire and submerged all ancient Syria. The terrifying power of belief, and the absolute demands it makes upon passions and energies, good or bad, remain very evident in this lovely and aggressive pocket in the plains. It is the spirit of the Islamic past that moves in the narrow streets…
In such a setting of faith and feudalism it is not surprising that the population should be notoriously farouche [sullen; recalcitrant], hostile not only to the European, but even to the neighbouring inhabitants of Homs, and indeed to all ideas and persons unfamiliar. Their mood is expressed in sudden violences and rash riots … Prior to 1932 disturbances closed the Hama suks twenty-one times in three years, and the same sporadic unpredictable outbreaks still occur. It is a place of fanatical certainties and uncertain passions which it is difficult for the western mind to comprehend.
Richard Mitchell’s seminal analysis of the Muslim Brotherhood’s advent, and formative initial quarter century, concludes that by its fifth general conference (in 1939), the Brotherhood had produced an ideology based on three traditionalist, “insistent” Islamic pillars:
(1) Islam as a total system, complete unto itself, and the final arbiter of life in all its categories; (2) an Islam formulated from and based on its two primary sources, the revelation in the Qur’an and the wisdom of the Prophet in the Sunna; and (3) an Islam applicable to all times and all places.
Mitchell adds that Muslim Brotherhood founder Hasan al-Banna defined the movement’s scope within this framework as “a Salafiyya message, a Sunni way, a Sufi truth, a political organization, an athletic group, a cultural-educational union, an economic company, and a social idea.”
Hama came to embody the “Salafi-Sufi” synthesis in harmony with al-Banna’s vision, due to the efforts of Sheikh Muhammad al-Hamid (1910-1969), a (Naqshbandi) Sufi adept, and founding member of Hama’s Muslim Brotherhood branch. Al-Hamid was educated at Al-Azhar University in Egypt where he first met his fellow student and eventual founder of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Syrian affiliate, Mustafa al-Sibai. A close associate of Hasan al-Banna, al-Hamid committed himself to political activity following his return to Hama in 1942, taking an active part in fomenting the jihad against the French via sermons delivered from the minbar of Hama’s Sultan mosque. (He personally hung the flag of independence on the barracks of the jihadist garrison in Hama upon victory). Shortly afterward, consumed by the jihad against the Jews of Palestine, al-Hamid devoted many sermons to the matter, arguing the only solution was the Jews’ forcible removal. (Urgent appeals from local ulama [Muslim religious leaders] to remain in Hama prevented him from joining the battle.)
Said Hawwa, the Hama Muslim Brotherhood ideological leader, renowned for his struggles against the Syrian Baathists, acknowledged al-Hamid’s earlier profound contribution to Hama’s post-independence Brotherhood environment:
[Sheikh al-Hamid] molded his town Hamah in such a way that he made it capable of every good. From here there emerged in Hamah a generation that is an example of how the people all over the Muslim world should be … [H]e educated his brothers to adhere to the Scriptures, to respect the religious scholars and the jurists, and to follow the Sufis while adhering to the Scriptures and to the precepts of the Law. He educated his brothers to love Hasan al-Banna, to love the Muslim Brothers, and to love all Muslims …
The Muslim Brotherhood formed the core of the opposition to secular and socialist Baath party rule of Syria, beginning in 1963. Syrian ulama and the Muslim Brotherhood rejected even the somewhat more permissive and pragmatic rule of Hafiz al-Assad, starting in 1970, given that he was from Syria’s minority non-Sunni, heterodox Muslim Alawite community. Not surprisingly, Hama was the hub of the Muslim Brotherhood opposition to the Baath, which intensified under Hafiz al-Assad’s reign during the latter half of the 1970s, culminating in the mass uprising of 1982, and its brutal, murderous suppression. Pace Farouk Tayfour’s recent bowdlerized appraisal during a January, 2012 interview with Al-Hayat, the Muslim Brotherhood bears responsibility for precipitating the catastrophic events that concluded with the disproportionate, wantonly destructive, and bloody carnage Hafiz al-Assad’s regime wrought upon Hama in 1982.
David Kenner published a re-capitulation of the events leading to the 1982 Hama uprising on the thirtieth anniversary of their convulsive resolution. Kenner’s essay opens with this chilling anecdote:
It was a massacre. On June 16, 1979, Capt. Ibrahim Yusuf ordered some 200 cadets at the Aleppo Artillery School to attend an urgent meeting in the mess hall. Once they were assembled, he opened the door to a squad of gunmen who opened fire on the defenseless crowd. At least 32 cadets, most belonging to then President Hafez al-Assad’s Alawite sect, were cut down in the hail of gunfire and grenades.
Kenner acknowledges that opposition to the Hafiz al-Assad regime was expressed by non-violent means as well, and the Syrian military engaged in violence “that far exceeded anything that the Sunni insurgents could muster.” However, Kenner also argues that the Muslim Brotherhood-animated Sunni revolt created “sharp and unbridgeable sectarian rifts” stressing the Alawite-led Syrian regime to the point where it was “virtually impossible for the Alawite ruling class to do anything but fight to the death.”
Escalating their terror campaign in Damascus during 1981 — a response to Assad’s bloody reprisal (i.e., gunning down at least 500 Muslim Brotherhood jihadists imprisoned in Tadmor prison) for a failed assassination attempt against him — Kenner notes:
… they [the Muslim Brotherhood Sunni insurgents] bombed the prime minister’s office in August, the Air Force headquarters in September, and a military recruitment center in November. In February 1982, the “Islamic Revolution Command in Syria” claimed credit for bombing the Damascus offices of the regime’s al-Baath newspaper, killing at least 76 people. “It was a great accomplishment to be added to the series of tremendous explosions carried out by the mujahidin,” the statement read. “We draw attention to the fact that all the Syrian information media are nationalized and that the explosion was timed for all the authority’s hirelings to be present.”
The Assad regime’s final crushing assault on Hama took place after the city rose in open revolt during February 1982, punctuated by a Muslim Brotherhood jihad terror attack:
During the night of 2-3 February 1982, a group of 150-200 armed men moved into Hamah under the command of Umar Jawad, local head of the organization of the Brothers, better known by the name of Abu Bakr [the first “Rightly Guided” Caliph of Islam]. The watchword was to attack the main political officials affiliated to the government, including cadres of the Baath Party, senior administrators and military heads. Exactions were committed by members of the commando and reference has been made to a dozen Baath cadres assassinated in their homes with their wives and children. In addition, the liquidation of clerics who had publicly condemned the crimes of the Tali a al-muqatila (fighting vanguard), the armed wing of the Muslim Brothers in Syria, was reported. In all, 90 people were killed. The high command of the Muslim Brotherhood declared in a communiqué that Hamah was regarded as a liberated city and urged the population to rise up against the infidels.
Although the press office of the Muslim Brotherhood insisted that in the fighting which occurred between February 2 and 22, 1982, the Syrian regime’s armed forces lost 3,412 men, while a further 5,000 were wounded, the final confrontation between Assad’s Brotherhood opponents and over 10,000 well-equipped Syrian security forces, was, as Kenner observes, “a battle the Sunni insurgents could not hope to win.” According to an Amnesty International inquiry from November, 1983 the Hama massacre, claimed the lives of anywhere from 10,000 to 25,000 Syrians. Kenner notes, that while the massacre, “may have permanently stained the reputation of the Assad dynasty in the eyes of the world,” he concludes appositely:
… it also crushed the organized Islamist insurgency in Syria and paved the way for three more decades of relatively unchallenged rule by the Assads.
Viewed from this historical perspective, Farouk Tayfour’s effort to recast the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood as innocent, unprovoked victims of the Assad dynasty’s aggression, is a transparent whitewashing of the organization’s violent legacy of jihad terror, aimed at enforcing its Sharia supremacist Weltanschaaung. Tayfour’s and the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood’s broader contemporary apologetics — designed for Western consumption — strive to portray the organization’s modern, “secular” and pluralistic outlook. But even these public attempts, both the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood’s April 25, 2012 “Pledge and Charter,” and Tayfour’s statements, invoke Syrian Muslim Brotherhood founder Mustafa al-Sibai’s example — Tayfour explicitly citing al-Sibai as a paragon of “democratic partnership.”
A Wise, Prescient U.S. State Department Assessment of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood — Circa December, 1947
Fortunately, during the era before cultural relativism hopelessly muddled the perceptions of U.S. diplomats, a confidential State Department analysis, filed December 19, 1947 (Despatch # 883, Subject: “The Moslem Brotherhood in Syria”; recently obtained by the author via a Freedom of Information Act request), captured in real time the ideology and commensurate activities of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, and its founder, Mustafa al-Sibai.
The December 1947 State Department report opens with these general, introductory observations:
The Brotherhood is an increasingly important organization in Syria and is of vital interest to the American observer because it plays a leading part in hammering anti-foreign sentiments into a population already basically suspicious of Western “Colonizers.” The organization cannot merely be called conservative; the recently overused word “reactionary” accurately applies. It demands for Moslems to return to the old customs and traditions of Islam. Although recognized by the Government as a non-political association, in practice it [the Brotherhood] illustrates its strong opposition to the separation of state and religion by actively participating in politics…The Ikhwan al-Muslimin [Muslim Brotherhood] is dedicated to reversing [the] secular trend and its success has not been negligible. The Brotherhood in Syria is a growing organization with an apparently assured future. The hysteria surrounding Palestine and the deep-seated popular dissatisfaction with the proposed United Nations settlement, supported by European and Western Powers, of that troublesome problem is exploitable by the Brotherhood. It has already been so exploited.
The section of the report entitled “History,” summarized the Syrian Brotherhood’s origins and concerns, particularly its anti-Westernism, anti-Communism, opposition to women’s rights, and obsessive emphasis on neighboring Palestine. Evidence for the movement’s popular appeal to the Syrian Muslim masses was also provided:
Representatives sent by Sheikh Hassan al-Banna from the already flourishing Egyptian branch of the Moslem Brotherhood arrived in Syria shortly after the French bombarded Damascus in May, 1945. They laid the groundwork for the Syrian society, reportedly gave it financing and promised support until the Syrian branch could get on its own feet…On June 22, 1946 the first issue Al-Manar (The Beacon), the Brotherhood’s press organ, appeared in Damascus under the editorship of Mustafa Sibai…From the start, Al- Manar has been extremely xenophobic, but certain changes in the pattern of its attack have been visible in the past 18 months. One of those is the gradual increase given to abuse of the United States. Vehemently anti-British from the beginning, the paper slowly devoted more attention to America. This was not unconnected with America’s Palestine policy.
The Communists also have received harsh treatment at the hands of Mustafa al-Sibai and his fellow writers [at Al-Manar]; never so harsh, however, as in the days following the [Palestine] partition vote of the United Nations when the Communists were castigated as “traitors, spies, and assassins.” Brotherhood hatred of the Communists, heartily reciprocated, has resulted in series of clashes between these left and right groups. In Homs and Damascus on more than one occasion there has been bloodshed. Beyond the mutual antagonism of any two rival extremist factions, Brotherhood antipathy was based on a firm anti-foreign stand reinforced by the belief that the Communists were representatives of the “irreligious” Soviet Union. Ikhwan members were an important if not the predominant part of a mob which on November 30, 1947, the day after the United Nations voted to partition Palestine, attacked Communist headquarters in Damascus. At least one student and one Communist Party member were killed in the resulting melee, numerous other persons were badly injured, and Communist headquarters was burned. Al-Manar claimed a victory…
The role of the Brotherhood in stirring the masses to concern over Palestine has been an important one, since no other group has so consistently emphasized the importance of the coming struggle. Following release of the UNSCOP [United Nations Special Committee on Palestine] Report, the Ikhwan organized political meetings to follow each week the important Friday morning prayer sessions at the principal mosques throughout Syria. These sessions were usually fight talks urging the faithful to lay down their lives and fortunes to defeat Zionism. The Brotherhood was probably the first organization in Syria to register volunteers for action in Palestine. It is believed that the Society actually gave some military training to its members at two camps, one near Haffe, in the Allouite [Alawite] Mountains and the other near Hama.
[T]the Brotherhood also stands against sin. Sin in fanatical Moslem eyes includes the exercise by women of freedoms taken for granted in other societies. For example, a public incident of early Brotherhood history in Syria was an attack by turbaned Brothers on the Roxy theater in Damascus. Sheikhs stoned the building, broke glass, and threatened the audience. Provocation for this outburst was the “ladies day” attendance promotion scheme of the theatre manager. The idea of unattended women viewing Clark Gable or even Mickey Mouse is apparently revolting to devout Moslems.
The strength of the Ikhwan al-Muslimin is difficult to estimate but there are perhaps 10,000 active members. Potentially every devout Moslem is a member, for no other political group in Syria has the same religious appeal. It is thought that many “true believers” holding Government jobs and so barred by law from political activity are sympathizers, if not secretly members…The showing of the Brotherhood in the July, 1947 parliamentary elections was impressive, especially in the free and relatively honest balloting of the first day. Many observers believe the Brotherhood list would have swept the field had not Minister of Defense Ahmad [al-]Sharabati and others taken “steps” to assure the election of National Party candidates in the run-off election.
The report’s concluding section summarizes a Brotherhood pamphlet entitled, “Aims and Principles of the Moslem Brotherhood,” which elucidates the organization’s program. Five salient features are highlighted — Islamic globalism, totalitarianism and anti-secularism; female inequality, and limitations on freedom of conscience and speech; Islamic morality; xenophobia; and obsession with the “Palestine question”:
The general philosophic and religious principles of the Moslem Brotherhood are in places so much gibberish, but the doctrines of “Pan-Islamism” and of the unity of state and religion are clearly discernible. One of several definitions of Islam reads: “Islam is improving spirit, manners, and character. It has all provisions and regulations for social life. It is a belief, worship, character, and religion. It is religion and state. Any attempt to separate it from public life is a deprivation of society of its greatest weapons and of medium reform and organization.” (Article 7) Finally, unity of the Arabs and Islam is declared, “The Arab nation is one nation…” (Article 8) and “Islam is the Arab nation’s mission…” (Article 9)
Article 17 states that “all persons are equal before the law,” but from other references to the place of women it is almost possible to conclude that females are not persons. “Freedom of thought and speech is a steady right…provided…it does not conflict with social regulation.”
On questions of morality, the Brotherhood lays down the law. Liquor, prostitution, gambling, indecency in films, papers, magazines, and popular music are attacked and women are enjoined “to dress decently.” A man who is not virtuous may not hold public office. Co-education is flatly forbidden.
If any one impression is gained by a perusal of the “Aims and Principles” it is that the Brotherhood is completely and determinedly committed to an anti-foreign campaign. Foreigners may have no economic concessions (Article 24), they may not own property or real estate (Article 25), Syrians who have ever served foreigners must be dismissed from teaching posts (Article 40) and foreign schools are absolutely prohibited (Article 46). The pre-judgment of the situation which underlies this basic policy is indicated in Article 12: “Colonization is evil. We fight it in all shapes and forms. Our attitude toward foreign states is caution. We keep peace with them as long as they keep peace with us: we fight them when they injure our interest or affect our sovereignty; and we consider any propaganda of a foreign state or its doctrine and regulations which contradict our principles as evil imperialist propaganda.” Employing a narrow view of “our interest” and “our sovereignty” and sprinkling the indictment with Communist terminology as the Brothers do the Ikhwan is led to practically absolute xenophobism.
This then is the Moslem Brotherhood, an organization determined to reform the Arab World, built on faith in Islam, dedicated to the defeat of secularism and convinced that direct intercourse with foreigners is evil. It opposes and will continue to oppose Soviet Communism, British Imperialism, and American colonization believing these derogatory words to reflect the true aims of the powers and acknowledging no good from any of them. Growing rapidly, capitalizing on the Palestine hysteria, and respected by the populace, the Brotherhood is a force to watch in Syrian politics.
An additional section of the 1947 report entitled, “Organization and Leadership,” includes biographical details about Syrian Brotherhood founder Mustafa al-Sibai. This section opens with an introductory comment about the Brotherhood’s leadership “triumvirate” which reinforces the report’s earlier observation explaining the movement’s mass appeal to traditionalist Syrian Muslims:
One of the strong points of the Brotherhood is the fact that its leaders, dangerous fanatics in American eyes, are respected by the Syrian people. Unwavering in purpose, the top men are all “good” Moslems and far more honest than most Syrian politicians.
[Al-]Sibai, not quite forty, comes from an impoverished branch of a large and influential Homs family. As a student he showed considerable ability and when he became interested in religious studies, he was sent to the oldest and most dignified center of Islamic religious learning, Al-Azhar College [University] in Cairo. While in Cairo studying theology and jurisprudence, Sibai presumably made the contacts that resulted in his selection as first Chairman of the Moslem Brotherhood in Syria some fifteen years later. Possibly key to the success of Mustafa Sibai is his acknowledged ability to sway an audience. In a country where the power of oratory is highly valued, Sibai ranks with the best. When in October, 1947 he toured north Syria demanding action in Palestine, the turnout was startling. His regular speeches at the Ommayad [Ummayad] Mosque in Damascus following Friday prayers leave the audience virtually frothing; such is the state of exultation he creates.
Finally, elsewhere in a comment from the report section “History,” it was noted:
Sibai and some of his cohorts spent part of the war [World War II] in British concentration camps for suspected pro-Nazi sympathies.
Mustafa al-Sibai’s Sharia-Supremacist “Democratic” Vision
Two episodes from al-Sibai’s biography (1915-1964) which took place after the December, 1947 State Department report was filed, capture his defining, obsessive Islamic Jew-hatred. Under al-Sibai’s personal leadership (as the General Overseer), the Syrian Muslim Brothers sent a jihadist battalion which fought the beleaguered Jews of Palestine at the battles for Jerusalem, and neighboring al-Qastal, in May, 1948. Two years later, in 1950, al-Sibai achieved notoriety for suggesting Syria re-align its foreign policy (then) and seek diplomatic support from the Soviet Union for the expressed purpose of countering Western support of Israel.
Mustafa al-Sibai’s Islamic supremacist Weltanschauung can be gleaned in specific detail from his most important writings. However, in essence, al-Sibai shared with great fidelity his colleague and Egyptian (and international) Muslim Brotherhood founder Hasan al-Banna’s ideology. Immediately after his election as General Overseer of the nascent Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, al-Sibai celebrated this achievement with a message (on May 23, 1946) to al-Banna, which stated:
How wonderful it is for names to merge after goals and programs have been united. If we could not manage, because of official obstacles and current circumstances to complete our link with the leadership and with the organizational structure, let us hope that God will bring the day when this is achieved in the near future.
Al-Banna, on September 5, 1948, writing in the Egyptian Brotherhood daily al-Ihkwan al-Muslimin, expressed, unabashedly, the movement’s global aspirations, consistent with the traditional hegemonic goals of Islam:
The Ikhwan is not a regional movement, but it is indeed an international one, because Islam is an international religion.
Subsequently, Mustafa al-Sibai, reiterated this formulation, stating:
The Call of the Muslim Brothers is not a narrow party political call. We are not a localized organization, the function of which is restricted to narrow local or national boundaries…But we are an international movement.
These clearly expressed ideals contextualize Al-Sibai’s 1960 essay “Mutual or Joint Responsibility,” (translated here, pp. 151,54,61) which discussed jihad as a “nation’s,” or “state’s,” or “country’s” shared obligation.
To fight for Allah (al-jihad) with money and self…The paying of part of a citizen’s money for a holy war (jihad) is preserving all his money from being taken by the enemies if they win…[Mutual] responsibility with respect to defense states that every Muslim in the state must cooperate with the rest of his fellow citizens in defending the security of the country. It is his duty to sound a general alarm if an enemy raids any part of the nation such that a state of panic is caused. In this regard, the saying of Allah is (Koran 9:41), “Go ye forth, (whether equipped) lightly or heavily, and strive and struggle, with your goods and your persons, in the cause of God.”
When viewed in the very specific context of his bellicose words and aggressive deeds vis a vis the jihad against the Jews of historical Palestine (i.e., fiery sermonizing, raising funds, and organizing and leading a jihadist battalion), it is quite clear that Al-Sibai’s use of the terms “nation,” “state,” or “country,” referred to at least the regional Arab Muslim (and more likely, global Pan-Islamic) umma. Al-Sibai’s understanding of “defense” was equally elastic—consistent with the classical Islamic jurisprudence on jihad war.
In an earlier 1938-39 essay, “Ulama and Politics” al-Sibai had emphasized the significance of foundational Islamic theologians and jurists as prototype jihadists:
Regarding their jihad for Allah and for achieving victory for His religion, this is a long story and suffice if I cite several episodes. Abd Allah b. Al Mubarak [d. 797; a merchant and transmitter of hadith, who was a disciple of the seminal jurist Abu Hanifa, founder of the Hanafite school of jurisprudence], the God-fearing imam and scholar, who was in the habit of alternating between making a pilgrimage to Mecca one year and taking part in holy war [jihad] the next year, until he dies on the way back from a holy war. Imam al-Shafii (d. 820; founder of the Shafiite school of jurisprudence] traveled to Alexandria, and for several days was stationed at its shore, facing the sea, prepared to forestall any danger. Imam al-Bukhari (d. 870; compiler of the most important of the six canonical hadith collections), the commander of the faithful in compiling the Hadith, was stationed in an outlying called Firrir [a village in Bokhara, now modern Uzbekistan], and at nightfall, he would begin to gather hadith and begin to worship his God. Imam Ibn Taymiyya (d. 1328; the famous Hanbali jurist) rode from Damascus to Cairo in order to call for its help against the Tatars, returning after he recruited fighting forces, and standing at their forefront. There are many other examples of such imams, for whom the jihad for religious knowledge did not divert them from the jihad to spread the word of Allah…
But al-Sibai’s “Ulama and Politics” is most remarkable — as its title implies — for articulating a triumphal Sunni version of Ayatollah Khomeini’s modern conception (in his Islamic Government, 1970, translated here, pp. 27ff) of a theocratic Shiite Muslim polity, wilayat al-faqih, “the rule of the jurist.” Al-Sibai’s essay concludes with a rhetorical question, followed by his prescriptive admonition:
…[P]eople still ask: “Why are the Muslim unfortunate?” By God’s name, they did not become unfortunate until the day the gap widened between the condition of the ulama then [i.e., during Islam’s 8th-14th centuries, as noted above] and their condition today! I don’t deny that in some Islamic countries there are worthy people among the ulama, who have begum recently to embark on taking their place in the leadership, but they are too few…[S]o long as many leaders lack an absolute devotion to Islam and a great spirit with evidence of leadership attributes; and so long as matters are in this situation, all our ulama are duty bound to sense their great responsibility and move forward with devotion and determination until the hall of parliament is filled with them and the branches of government are in their hands. They must have the same status as that which they conceded formerly, and which was snatched up by those who proved catastrophic to Islam and helpful to its enemies, whether intentionally or through ignorance.
If the ulama of the early generations were lead by those whom we described to you, when Islam was strong, exalted, and flourishing, how much more bound are the ulama of today to follow in their footsteps, when Islam is in a state of disintegration, suffering, and challenge. Indeed this is one of the hopes of youth, and I view it as easy to attain if we seek it when we are true to Allah. Let our ulama appear as did their predecessors of yore…and may they be released from their lusts as were their forbears; then they will find support and reinforcement from Allah and from the Muslim nation who will crown their heads with wreathes of victory.
…submitted to the faculty of Sharia at Azhar University in the year 1949; based on it I achieved my doctorate in Fiqh [Islamic jurisprudence], Usool [the “science” concerned with the comprehensive evidentiary basis for Islamic jurisprudence], and the History of Islamic Legislation.
“The Sunna and Its Role in Islamic Legislation” argued that Islam’s most sacred texts, the Koran and the six canonical hadith collections, as further explicated in the Sharia, Islam’s divine law, formed the legislative basis for the ulama-redolent parliamentary government al-Sibai outlined in “Ulama and Politics”. Re-published with an updated (at least through 1956) Preface, the main thesis of al-Sibai’s most extensive and candid political work, written, as translator Faisal ibn Muhammad Shafeeq observes, for the “truth-seeking Muslim,” is accompanied, organically, by al-Sibai’s repeated excursions into paranoid anti-Western and conspiratorial Islamic Jew-hating diatribes — a concurrent disturbing, if sometimes inadvertently comical narrative.
Al-Sibai’s central argument — rooted in mainstream, classical Islam — is put forth plainly, in general, specific, and operational terms. He reiterates the overarching Muslim belief in Islam as a holistic, or more aptly, given its permanently conjoined political aspects, totalitarian system, derived from the canonical — and infallible — sources, in particular the Brotherhood’s sine qua non [p. 246]“Koran as state constitution”:
As Muslims, we believe that the world has no choice — if happiness and peace are to be achieved — except to return to Allah’s pure and pristine teachings, which are free of distortion and change. The message of Islam is the culmination of those teachings, for it provides a system of laws that are suitable for every epoch and that fulfill the needs of man in all places and times.
The Sharia of Islam — with its primary sources along with derived rulings of its scholars and Imams — is vast in its scope of teachings and laws, supplying a ruling for every occurrence and a solution for every problem.
The sources of Islamic legislation are preserved: they are known and trusted by Muslims. For the most part, the Qur’an — the first source of Islamic legislation — consists of general and universal rulings and legislations. On the other hand, the Sunnah explains those principles, branching off from universal principles into specific issues, a reality that is known to all who have sufficient background in the Sunnah. An inevitable result, then, is that the scholars of Islam must rely — and have relied — on the Sunnah for gaining knowledge.
Allah revealed the Qur’an to His Messenger as guidance for righteous people, as a constitution for Muslims, and as a remedy for the hearts of those whom Allah wills to cure. It comprises many of the aims for which Allah sent His Messenger — in it are legislations, manners, exhortations, stories, (declarations of tawheed (Islamic Monotheism), promises of reward, and warnings of punishment. It is positively authentic as a whole as well as in its detailed verses. So whoever doubts in a verse or a word or in a letter of the Qur’an, is not a Muslim. The most important duty of the Islamic scholar is to acquaint himself with Allah’s laws and rulings that are found in His Book.
Just as Muslims need to know Allah’s Book, they need to know what the Prophet clarified regarding it. One cannot correctly understand the Qur’an or know what Allah means in many verses except by referring to the Messenger of Allah, to whom Allah revealed His Book, so that he could explain to people that which was revealed to them from their Lord. With the exception of deviant groups, Muslims from the past and present agree that the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah — comprising of his sayings, deeds and approvals — is one of the binding sources of legislation in Islam, which every Muslim needs in order to know what is lawful and what is prohibited.
Al-Sibai’s illustration of how this canonical text-based governing system is integrated fits Palgrave’s timeless, evocative late 19th century description of the “Pantheism of Force” engendered by Allah, “this tremendous Autocrat,” confirmed “word for word” by the “witness tongue” of the Koran and the hadith. The obligate result begets “slaves” — al-Sibai’s own term — trapped in a liberty-crushing, totalitarian Islamic theocracy, where hurriyya, Arabic for “freedom,” but meaning “perfect slavery to Allah,” represents the transmogrified antithesis of the Western conception of freedom:
The Noble Qur’an encompasses the fundamentals of Islam and the general principles of Islamic legislations, some of which are clearly spelled out and others that are left for the Messenger of Allah to clarify. As long as Allah sent his Messenger to clarify the rulings of Islam to Muslims and made it compulsory for them to follow him, his clarification on those rulings is a clarification on the Qur’an. And as such, the rulings of the Sharia — from the Qur’an and the Sunnah and from the subsidiary to them, ijma (consensus) and qiyas (analogy) — are in reality rulings from Allah’s Book, either directly or in derivation. Therefore these is no contradiction between the validity of the Sunnah as an Islamic proof and the Qur’an being an exposition of all matters. Imam Shafii (d. 820; founder of the Shafiite school of Islamic jurisprudence) said, “No new matter befalls one in Allah’s Religion except that Allah’s Book contains a guideline, showing the way to guidance in it.”
[Quoting Koran 16:44] “And We have also sent down unto you (O Muhammad) the reminder and the advice (the Qur’an), that you may explain clearly to men what is sent down to them, and that they may give thought.” [Quoting Koran 16:89] “And We have sent down to you the Book (the Qur’an) as an exposition of everything…” In different ways Allah clarified to His slaves matters through which they worship him:
1. There are matters that vAllah directly mentioned in the Qur’an—for instance compulsory deeds, such as the Prayer, zakat [alms giving], Fasting, and Hajj; or for example, Allah forbade wicked deeds, those that are evident and those that are hidden. He clearly mentioned in the Qur’an that fornication and alcohol are forbidden as well as eating the meat of an animal that died naturally (i.e., that was not slaughtered), or eating blood, or pork. He outlined the obligatory elements of the ablution, as well as many other matters that He clarified directly.
2. Then there are deeds that Allah mentio0ned to be compulsory in the Qur’an but explained how they performed through the speech of the Prophet—for example, the number of units in the different prayers, the details of zakat, and other obligatory deeds that are revealed in the Qur’an.
3. In some matters, the Prophet initiated legislation that Allah did not directly mention in the Qur’an. Yet Allah did make obedience of His Messenger compulsory in His Book. Whoever then takes from the Messenger of Allah has accepted Allah’s command.
4. In yet other matters, Allah made His slaves strive to seek out a ruling, and He tests their obedience in those matters just as He tests their obedience in other matters that He made compulsory upon them.
Al-Sibai’s defense of this traditional Islamic totalitarian system is peppered with vituperative, paranoid attacks on “Western Orientalists,” particularly “Jewish Orientalists,” and Jews in general. The author’s introduction states, for example:
…Islam today…faces attacks from Orientalists, missionaries (of other faiths), and others whose sole purpose is to destroy the solid foundation of Islamic legislation.
He elaborates on this paranoid theme with Jew-hating invective, “validated” by alleged face to face rhetorical victories over “Jewish Orientalists” (although al-Sibai curiously omits any specific details of the substance of these debates or how they were resolved in his favor), and a conspiratorial antisemitic motif from Sunni Islam’s early historiography:
A prime example of how the enemy attempts to destroy Islam is to raise doubts about the authentic Prophetic Sunnah, which the vast majority of Muslims accept and follow, and which is the foundation of Islamic law, a law that is unparalleled among the nations for its vastness and comprehensiveness, but also for its permanence as an applicable set of laws…[That] the overall plot against Islam…existed and still exists is not conjured up by the imagination; it is, on the contrary, an established fact. Jewish Orientalists and others of their ilk evince many salient aspects of that plot in their writings…
A few years ago, a conference took place in Lahore, Pakistan, the purpose of which was to study issues pertaining to Islam. Muslim scholars from different countries attended the conference, and a number of Orientalists attended it as well…The most fanatical and ignorant of those who attended was the Canadian Orientalist, [William Cantwell] Smith — who perhaps is a Jew.
I visited many European universities in 1956, when I had a chance to meet with them [i.e., Orientalists] in person and to discuss with them their views…In the University of Leyden [Leiden], in Holland, I met the Jewish Orientalist, Josef [Joseph] Schacht, who in those days, was the flag-bearer of [Ignaz] Goldziher’s message, a message that is wrought with distortions, misrepresentations, and twisting of facts, behind which he aimed at bringing down the foundation of Islamic legislation.
In the first century of Islam it was the cunning Jew, Abdullah ibn Saba, who plotted against Islam…
Al-Sibai’s conspiratorial antisemitic zeal made him oblivious to the basic facts that William Cantwell Smith was an ordained Presbyterian minister, and Joseph Schacht was a non-Jew, raised in a German Catholic household. While Ignaz Goldziher (d. 1921) was Jewish, he was also a consummate, meticulous, and objective scholar—attributes shared by Schacht. Moreover, Goldziher and Schacht sought to characterize, dispassionately, the factual basis of the foundations and evolution of Islamic legislation. Seeking only to understand, not “bring down” those foundations, and trained as rational Western scholars — linguists and historians — Goldziher and Schacht merely refused to be forced to accept the pious Muslim narrative which imbued the individual building blocks. Goldziher, Schacht, and Smith each approached their scholarly analyses of Islam with respectful deference, al-Sibai’s mischaracterization being nothing more than an angry simulacram of that demonstrable reality.
The reference by al-Sibai to Abdullah ibn Saba frames his modern, conspiratorial Jew-hatred within a traditional Sunni Islamic context, invoking a profoundly anti-Jewish motif described in early Muslim historiography (for example, by al-Tabari, d. 923). Abdullah ibn Saba was an alleged renegade Yemenite Jew, and founder of the heterodox Shi’ite sect. He is held responsible — identified as a Jew — for promoting the Shi’ite “heresy” and fomenting the rebellion and internal strife associated with this primary breach in Islam’s “political innocence”, culminating in the assassination of the third Rightly Guided Caliph Uthman, and the bitter, lasting legacy of Sunni-Shi’ite sectarian strife.
Finally, al-Sibai makes two additional comments in these “anti-Orientalist” diatribes which corroborate his totalitarian, hegemonic aspirations:
Today every Muslim country has agencies to detect and then foil any attempt of political or military uprising from its citizens. Why cannot similar agencies be used to detect and then foil attempts against Islam, both from without and from within?
The day will come, inshallah [Allah wiling], when the tables will be turned and we will study Western heritage, producing criticism of their religion, their sciences, and their civilization. At that time, our children and grandchildren will use the same principles of criticism that Western scholars themselves in vented, in order to study Western civilization, and in order to show the decadence and disintegration of Western society.
Quo Vadis Syrian Muslim Brotherhood? Listen in Arabic (and Ask Wafa Sultan)
Six decades later, on June 11, 2012, expressing sentiments entirely consistent with al-Sibai’s Weltanschaaung, Muhammad Riyadh Al-Shaqfa, current general guide of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, opined that “liberation” of the Golan Heights was a “right,” while precluding any Brotherhood recognition of Israel’s existence as a sovereign state.
Al-Shaqfa’s candid remarks pierced the façade of the Syrian Brotherhood’s March 25, 2012 “Pledge and Charter,” which claimed the movement would foster a “democratic, pluralistic” post-Assad Syrian state, “committed to human rights” for “all citizens regardless of their ethnicity, faith, school of thought, or [political] orientation.” Even Bassam Ishaq, identified as a Christian opposed to the Assad regime who had worked with the Brotherhood within the SNC acknowledged (in a Reuters report published May 6, 2012, less than two months after the Charter was issued), that despite obstacles:
If they [the Syrian Brotherhood] get a chance to seize power by themselves they will do it, but they realize that it will be difficult in country where 30 percent of the population are ethnic or religious minorities.
Seven years ago, the perspicacious and remarkably bold Syrian expatriate psychiatrist Wafa Sultan, in a June 5, 2005 essay published at the reformist website www.annaqed.com (with the self-explanatory title, “The Muslim Brotherhood: Who Are They Trying to Fool?”, translated here), pondered:
I look at the expression used by the Muslim Brotherhood…“to establish a pluralistic, democratic society that honors all people regardless of religion or sect.” I stop at this sentence and ask myself: Has something changed in the basic principles of the [Muslim] Brotherhood to make us believe that they have changed their attitude? Or is what they are adopting now nothing but a big lie required by current political exigencies, both international and domestic—as the folk saying goes “act like a weakling until you are strong.”?
Sultan demanded a mea culpa (still not forthcoming) for the Brotherhood’s bloody rampages in Syria, which were not at all confined to Assad regime targets:
The crimes which they committed on the basis of their principles are still fresh in our memory, and the innocent blood which they spilled is still in our hearts. In the most recent statement which they issued following their conference, they attempted to wash their hands clean of the terrorist acts in Syria at the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s and to pin it on a splinter group which, as they claim, adopted violence as a means to achieve its goals. However, slips of the tongue – if theirs was really a slip of the tongue – always reveal what is in the heart, and especially the heart of a hypocrite. In that statement, they said: “The Muslim Brotherhood organization has nothing to do with this splinter-group that used violence against the pillars of the regime.” Against the pillars of the regime?! Was Muhammad Al-Fadil, who was assassinated by these criminals, one of the pillars of the regime, or was he one of the pillars of the Faculty of Law at Damascus University?! Was Dr. Yusef Al-Yusef, whose body they riddled with bullet in front of the medical school at the University of Aleppo while shouting “Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar” – was he one of the pillars of the regime, or an ophthalmologist who didn’t have anything whatsoever to do with the regime?…Were the students in the artillery school, who were attacked by their commander, First Lt. Ibrahim Al-Yusef, and within seconds turned 200 of them into [a collection] of scattered limbs…were all these pillars of the regime? And if they were, as the Muslim Brotherhood claimed in their statement, then why do they disown that “splinter group,” rather than taking it in? Aren’t they themselves against the regime?
Wafa Sultan — as is her unique wont — further questioned the Brotherhood’s willingness to renounce its own totalitarian Islamic supremacism, just as she denounced the brutal secular despotism of the Baathist Assad dynasty. She concluded by warning what the Brotherhood’s unreformed Sharia supremacist vision augured for Syrian society — an even more oppressive society:
What has changed in the Brotherhood’s basic principles to make us believe that they have changed their positions? Have they adopted a new book other than their old books, in which they found justifications for their acts? Are they now praying to a deity other than the one whose name they called when shouting “Allahu Akbar” while shooting down the country’s best and brightest from among the scholars of science and law, for the sole reason that they belonged to groups that did not embrace their basic beliefs and principles?
Do they now believe in verses other than those that incite them to fight those who do not believe in their book and their Prophet, so that they [now] demand to respect the beliefs and freedoms of the other? Have they changed their view about “those who have incurred Allah’s wrath” [i.e., the Jews from Koran 1:7, and its exegesis] and “those who have gone astray,” [i.e., the Christians, also from Koran 1:7, and its exegesis] such that they are capable of building a pluralistic democratic society with respect for everyone?… Are they going to desist from accusing others of being apostates, while threatening to kill them, making them divorce their wives,  or deporting them? Has the woman become, in their understanding, a human being deserving of having her rights and wishes respected, and one that cannot be beaten up merely because a deranged, crazy husband suspects that she is not performing her conjugal duties according to his taste?
We cannot deny the Muslim Brothers their Syrian nationality, nor do we want to, just as they cannot deny other Syrians their nationality, even though they want to. However, the coming stage requires of them, just as it requires of us, that they should enter the new Syria on the basis of sincere belief in this nationality, and not on the basis of beliefs and ideas which are morally illegitimate and which have long [been discredited]. Our religious or sectarian affiliation is no criterion for good citizenship. Love of Syria and respect for all Syrians, regardless of religious affiliation, is the only criterion. Can the Muslim Brotherhood and others who have been sullied by their shameful terrorist past – are they willing to abide by this criterion?… Do they have the courage to openly declare their new beliefs and apologize for their past so that we won’t need to dig up their past? They are calling [now] for a pluralistic, democratic society ruled by the principles of justice and equality. On what basis are they going to build this society?…Have they changed their fundamental beliefs? Why don’t they give an answer to this question?…They used to commit crimes [and then] escape to Saudi Arabia, Iraq, or Jordan [in order to find] a safe haven, and now they are planning to return from these safe havens to the scene of their crimes to participate in building a democratic pluralistic society based on justice and equality?!…
The Syrian people are exhausted from the oppression and despotism of the [Baath] regime which has borne down on them for more than 40 years. We suffered a great calamity when the Assad family and their band seized power in Syria, but we will suffer an even greater calamity if, when we get rid of this band, we find ourselves face to face with the Muslim Brotherhood – “God forbid.” Are the [Syrian] opposition and secular and democratic parties, both in Syria and overseas—are they aware of this truth? Will they be able to thwart the Muslim Brotherhood’s plan to corrupt the new Syria? Assad’s monopoly on power was a violation of the rights of the people and has led us to a miserable life; however, we do not want to replace it with something even worse.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her subordinate State Department advisers and minions have recklessly eschewed Wafa Sultan’s June 2005 wise, experience-based tocsin of looming calamity. The Clinton State Department also apparently never learned, or chose to ignore, the frank, unchanged truths conveyed in the State Department’s own December, 1947 assessment of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood. Ms. Clinton’s likely replacement as Secretary of State, Senator John Kerry, judging from his own uninformed statements about the parent Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, will not change America’s delusive and dangerous empowerment of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood as “policy.” Tragically, America seems hell bent on midwiving a post-Assad Muslim Botherhood-ruled Syria.