The Muslim Brotherhood claims Congress is waging “war on moderate Islam” with House legislation to designate the group a foreign terrorist organization.
The bipartisan legislation, introduced last year by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), cleared the House Judiciary Committee 17-10 on a party-line vote Wednesday.
The bill details many links of the Brotherhood to terrorism, including the endorsement of violence in Egypt last year in response to a “war against Islam’s principles.” It notes that Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain have banned the Brotherhood.
Not more than 60 days after enactment of the bill, the State Department would have to submit a report to Congress on whether the Muslims Brotherhood meets the criteria to be designated a foreign terrorist organization — and if not, explain why not.
Diaz-Balart stressed that the Brotherhood “continues to pose a global threat” and the U.S. “must recognize and sanction the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization as part of our national security strategy.”
In a statement posted on their English-language website today, the Muslim Brotherhood lashed out at “extremist right-wing Republicans” who were “manipulated by pro-Israel Zionist lobby.”
“This bill is unjust and purely political. It reflects the rising tide of hatred and hostility with which right-wing extremist Republicans, lobbyists and politicians are trying to drag the American people into ideological war with the Muslim world, at the heart of it is the Muslim Brotherhood, the largest and most popular Islamic movement,” the Brotherhood said.
“The attempt to accuse the peaceful Muslim Brotherhood of terrorism goes without the presence of a single shred of evidence, and will fail – just like previous desperate attempts by hardliners and extremists in the US and its despotic allies in the Middle East.”
The Brotherhood expressed confidence that “more-balanced individuals and politicians in the U.S. government, civil society organizations and the American public will oppose such hateful bills as they continue to speak up against recent racist statements and bigotry by some hardline politicians and presidential candidates, and which seem likely to threaten relations between the American people and Muslims.”
The group then asserted it “believes in democracy, justice and freedom, plays down these decisions and statements, and deems them to be of no consequence.”
The Obama administration did not comment on the legislation today. But the White House, which continues to call on the Egyptian government to release Muslim Brotherhood members, is expected to oppose the bill.
“We are deeply troubled by the politically motivated sentences that have been handed down against former President Morsi and several others,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters last June after the deposed Muslim Brotherhood leader was sentenced to life in prison.
“The United States has repeatedly raised concerns about the detention and sentencing of a variety of political figures in Egypt and we are concerned that the proceedings have been conducted in a way that is not only contrary to universal values but also damaging to the stability that all Egyptians deserve,” Earnest said.
Former Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson, reviled by many demonstrators during secular democracy protests for appearing to side with the Muslim Brotherhood, has since been promoted to Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs.