The BBC And The Thoroughly "Moderate" Muslim Brotherhood

I’m sure everyone here will remember the BBC’s official position during the Egyptian democracy protests, before Mubarak (to his eternal credit, in my view) stepped down, which was that the Muslim Brotherhood is, in fact, “moderate”. Frank Gardener was on air several times saying that the group was “moderate”, and Jeremy Bowen even wrote online that the group was both “conservative” and “moderate”, until he got caught and stealth-edited out the “moderate” bit. (I saw the original myself, and made a comment here at the time, but unfortunately did not take a screen shot.)

A reminder of the BBC’s Narrative on the Muslim Brotherhood:

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood promotes moderate path

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood launches ‘Islamic Facebook’

Egypt’s opposition movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, has launched its own Facebook-style social networking site.

A senior member of the banned Islamist group says the aim is to spread awareness of moderate Islamic values.

Website takes on Muslim Brotherhood critics

Exposing hatred

Through the Ikhwanophobia website, the Brotherhood’s sympathisers aggressively attempt to refute criticisms of the group and to show the world what they consider to be “the true face of moderate Islamists”.

Competing Muslim Brotherhood visions for Egypt

The Muslim Brotherhood is vying to become an official party in post-Mubarak Egypt. The conservative Islamist views of some of the group’s members scare many in Egypt and the West, but, as Tim Whewell has been finding out, many members, particularly young activists, are much more moderate.

With all this in mind, it’s no surprise that the BBC is not mentioning the Muslim Brotherhood or fundamentalist Islam or their influence on the military in things which detract from the Narrative. I didn’t notice the MB complaining about the following incident. I thought they were advocates of freedom and democracy. Or does the BBC consider this kind of thing to be “moderate”, too?

Egyptian women protesters forced to take ‘virginity tests’

A leading rights group says the Egyptian army arrested, tortured and forced women to take “virginity tests” during protests earlier this month.

Notice that, while the Egyptian Army has been known during the Mubarak regime to crack down on anti-Government agitators, this is entirely different. The BBC, naturally, is placing blame exclusively on the army, and pointing out problems in the past to spin it away, nothing to do with the new changes in attitude. Granted, the sub-editor is essentially copying and pasting from Amnesty’s own website, but that’s no excuse. It’s not Amnesty’s job to inform people about the larger context, but it is – in theory – the BBC’s.

This happened after Mubarak stepped down, not before. It’s a different type of crackdown entirely. Making sure that protesters are virgins is not the same thing as cracking down on protests. This didn’t happen during the anti-Mubarak protests, but only after Egypt’s top brass asked a member of the Muslim Brotherhood to rewrite the country’s laws on personal freedom. Or does the BBC think this is “moderate” behavior as well?

Hey, BBC:

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15 Responses to The BBC And The Thoroughly "Moderate" Muslim Brotherhood

  1. George R says:

    When INBBC carries a report on Egypt:

    1.) it either ignores the existence of the Muslim Brotherhood, or treats it as a benign political influence;

    2.) it ignore the existence of the Egyptian Christan Copts. or treats them as a sectarian faction.

    In practice, as this alternative 2-page article indicates::

    “Muslim Brotherhood Makes Gains in Egypt”


  2. RGH says:

    A view from the ground in Egypt.

    ……more troubling, these events unequivocally betray the Egyptian military’s Islamist inclinations. This should not be surprising: as a grassroots movement, the Muslim Brotherhood has long been infiltrating Egypt’s culture so that some of the youth—who make up the bulk of the army—have naturally been indoctrinated in an Islamist worldview. Indeed, the military, which keeps imprisoned some of the secular youth who initiated the original revolution, has just released a number of jihadists, including al-Zomar, who reasserted in his first interview the need for Egypt’s Christians to pay the jizya tax, thereby confirming their inferior status under Muslim rule. Al-Zomar, of course, was not imprisoned because of his anti-Christian views, but because he was closely involved in the assassination of former President Sadat for making peace with Israel.
    Thus the Egyptian military’s Islamist leanings suggest that changes for the worse are coming—not just for the Copts, but internationally as well. Because the Islamist worldview is interrelated, Egypt’s leadership may well prove to be as anti-American and anti-Israel for the very same reason it is anti-Christian—all are infidels, all are the enemy. The only difference is that the Copts are weak, whereas America and Israel are currently not—thus unabashed animosity for the former, latent hostility for the latter.


  3. Craig says:

    There’s a fascinating article by Assad Elepty,
          Unholy Alliance in Egypt
    which lays out the worrying evidence of “an unholy alliance between the military and the radical Muslim Brotherhood”:

    It has become crystal clear that the young, educated secular activists who initially propelled the non-ideological revolution are no longer the driving political force. The Muslim Brotherhood with its link to the military is now dictating the future destiny of Egypt.

    The Indian Express tells us “The Muslim Brotherhood, the banned Islamic group that is considered as Egypt’s main political opposition, is reportedly poised to be at the forefront of post-revolutionary Egypt, having reached a tacit agreement with the military.”
    When will the BBC report any of this?


    • john in cheshire says:

      When the inevitable happens and the normal people of Egypt are massacred, I just hope that someone also comes for those in the bbc who are ideologically incapable of seeing evil for what it is. They are the equivalent of Quislings and should be brought to account. The employees at the bbc, paid from my pocket, disgust me, and I wish I could get rid of them, once and for all time.


  4. Craig says:

    Can you imagine Jeremy Bowen breaking a story like this?

    Egypt Air wipes Israel off the map – a sign of where Egypt could be headed
      Praveen Swami, diplomatic editor, Daily Telegraph

    The article begins:

    Israel has quietly dropped off Egypt Air’s route map this week.
    The airline’s explanation is that “flights to Tel Aviv are operated by Air Sinai, which is a separate company.” It explains that “our website exclusively show destinations to which our own EA flights travel to.”
    I’ve been unable to find a phone number, website or postal address for Air Sinai. That’s because it doesn’t seem to exist.  Wikipedia states it “ceased airline operations in its own right in 2002 and operates as a ‘paper airline’ for its parent company, Egypt Air.”
    Like a fair few other people, I suspect, I’m wondering if this is a sign of things to come in the Egypt-Israel relationship, because of the growing influence of people who would like to see Israel erased from maps, not just route maps.

    “Like a fair few other people?” Well, no-one at the BBC by the looks of it.

    The excellent Mr Swami then goes on to explain why Egypt’s would-be Lib Dems “are beginning to realise that the revolution they sacrificed so much for isn’t headed quite where they’d expected.”

    He says, “Part of the reason for the Islamist victory is that the revolution wasn’t – outside of the imaginations of some in the western media – a Woodstock-like flower-power upsurge.”

    “Some in the western media?” Yes, and many of them at the BBC.


    • john in cheshire says:

      jeremy bowen needs a few years of Terry Waite’s treatment and maybe then he’ll become a muslim realist.


  5. TooTrue says:

    I guess the BBC is gearing its collective self up to fall in love with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood as deeply as it fell in love with Hamas, which is of course an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood.

    Stop me if I’m repeating myself, but two things stood out for me in the BBC’s long love affair with Hamas. One was a Have Your Say programme with two Hamas devotees as honoured guests: the terror-supporting Azzam Tamimi and terror-obfuscating Alastair Crooke. This was at the time of the bloody strife between Fatah and Hamas in Gaza and the programme was meant to deal with the rift. But there were no invited Fatah guests and the Hamas two were allowed to ramble on endlessly with only a few brief interruptions from Fatah-supporting callers.

    And there was the Hardtalk programme with Stephen Sackur interviewing Saeb Erekat. He did his best to portray Erekat as an Uncle Tom to Hamas’ Nelson Mandela, insisting that by negotiating with Israel and the US, Fatah was selling out rather than joining their brethren in their noble struggle. Sackur pursued this line a little too emphatically, even for a Hardtalk programme.

    But the most startling thing of all dawned on me in the course of a long debate on this esteemed blog around the time of the elections in Gaza about whether or not the BBC had ever revealed Hamas’ intention to destroy Israel. I was surprised to discover that there had been a flurry of such reporting shortly before the elections, whereas I could find no evidence of same going further back. The incomparable Jeremy Bowen was the one spreading the news and it suddenly struck me that he was doing so to bolster Hamas and not to prejudice the terror group.

    Love affairs, however, do have their thorny moments. Tamimi was backed into a corner by Tim Sebastian on Hardtalk when Sebastian insisted that since Tamimi was so supportive of Islamic terrorism he should be prepared to go and blow himself up amongst the Israelis. And Ros Atkins reminded me of Sebastian when, on a recent World Have Your Say programme he wouldn’t let the Muslim Brotherhood get away with the lie that they were a social and not a political organisation and insisted they give him a straight answer to other questions they tried to squirm out of.

    If it were down to people like Atkins, the BBC would have a bumpier love affair with the Muslim Brotherhood than it has had thus far with Hamas. But unfortunately Atkins, like Sebastian before him, is practically a minority of one among the BBC’s motley crew.


  6. pounce_uk says:

    Another story from Eygpt which the bBC doesn’t have the time to bother reporting:

    A group of Muslims attacked Ayman Anwar Mitri, a 45 year old Christian Coptic man in the Upper Egyptian town of Qena, cutting off his ear. The Muslims claimed they were applying Sharia law because Mr. Mitri allegedly had an illicit affair with a Muslim woman. The Muslims called the police and told them “We have applied the law of Allah, now come and apply your law,” according to Mr. Mitri in an interview for the Egyptian Human Rights Organization.

    Mr. Mitri, a low grade administrator at a secondary school, from elHasweya, in Qena, 492 KM from Cairo, had rented his flat to two Muslim sisters, Abeer and Sabrin Saif Al-Nasr, through an agent. After nine months he learned the sisters had been indicted for prostitution, so he asked them to leave and they did.

    On Sunday, March 20 Mr. Mitri was informed by a friend via a phone call at 4 AM that the flat where the Muslim sisters lived was on fire; he went to the flat. While waiting in the torched flat a Muslim named Alaa el Sunni came and berated him for renting his flat to prostitutes. “I tried to calm him down,” said Mr. Mitri, “and told him I knew nothing about the two women since they came through an agent.” Alaa suggested they would go somewhere quiet to clear the misunderstanding. They went to the flat of Mr. Mitri’s friend Khaled, a policeman, where 12 Muslims were waiting for him. They started beating him and saying “We will teach you a lesson, Christian” and “This serves your right for renting your property to prostitutes.”

    Believing this was the end of the episode, they asked him to call the Muslim woman, so that they would send her to her father. When the woman refused to come, they asked a female Muslim neighbor to call her, saying that her belongings are with her. The woman, Sabrin, came and was told to say that she had a relationship with Mr. Mitri. “At first the woman refused, but after being beaten, she agreed,” said Mr. Mitri.

    Remembering his ordeal, he said that they sat him on a chair and a Muslim named elHusseiny cut his right ear off. “I felt so shocked that I do not even know what tool he used.” They also made a a 10cm cut at the back of his neck, cut his other ear, his face and his arm (video showing wounds). Mr. Mitri said they wanted to throw him off the fifth floor but Khaled objected, saying he would get into trouble for just being there, since he is a policeman.

    Mr. Mitri said that the Muslims tried to convert him to Islam, but he refused. The Muslims then called the police and told them to come and get the Copt saying “We have applied the law of Allah, now come and apply your civil law.”

    The police came and rescued Mitri and Sabrin, who told the police the Muslims forced her to lie about the illicit relationship between her and Mitri. A police report was issued, but no arrests were made.


  7. John Peters says:

    Would it be too much to expect the BBC to report increasing rocket attacks from civilian area’s into civilian area’s from that the British public will be fully informed and understand when Israel will be forced to go into Gaza to defend Israel…and in particularly the following report..


    I’m going to make a prediction here that, unfortunately, I’m sure will come true. Any good analyst should be able to see this, yet few will until it happens within the next one or two years:
    The Egyptian revolution and U.S. policy mistakes make a new Israel-Hamas war inevitable, and as a result it will be a lot more of an international mess.


  8. Daphne Anson says:

    Not quite pertinent, but here’s Melanie Phillips on israeli TV speaking about British media bias re Itamar (the intro is in Hebrew):
    It may have moved further down from the Masthead on the same page  by the time you read it.  Click on the small movie-camera icon on the left.


    • TooTrue says:

      Sorry I got to that a bit late. Great, passionate expose of Arab hatred by Melanie Phillips.


  9. Daphne Anson says:

    Al Beeb loves ’em, doesn’t it.
    It really really loves ’em, and the devil take the rest of us.
    I mean, just look at the way they’ve turned a story about an alert by the leader of Cardiff Council re a possible undercounting of citizens in the last Census into a propaganda piece for the city’s Muslims!!!


    • David Preiser (USA) says:

      My post was meant to be about how the BBC redefines the term “moderate” when it suits their agenda, and how dishonest their editorial policy is.  Extremist behavior shouldn’t be called “moderate”. I wasn’t saying that it was celebrating Islam in general.

      IMHO, the article you’ve linked to shows the folly of government subsidizing religion.  I don’t see it as propaganda per se.