New York Times Cairo bureau chief: Muslim Brotherhood is ‘moderate, regular old political force’

The New York Times Cairo bureau chief David K. Kirkpatrick insists that the Muslim Brotherhood is a “moderate, regular old political force,” despite Muslim Brotherhood-backed Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi’s recent power grab and the Islamist organization’s radical views.

Kirkpatrick called into Hugh Hewitt’s radio show Wednesday from Egypt as the Brotherhood’s supporters battled opponents who feared a return to dictatorship on the streets of Cairo. When asked by Hewitt whether the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi, a former top ideological enforcer in the movement, were consolidating power in Egypt to pursue an undemocratic Islamist agenda, Kirkpatrick said he thought such criticism was “misplaced.”

“The Brotherhood, they’re politicians,” he said.

“They are not violent by nature, and they have over the last couple of decades evolved more and more into a moderate — conservative but religious, but moderate — regular old political force. I find that a lot of the liberal fears of the Brotherhood are somewhat outside. That said, you know, you don’t know what their ultimate vision of what the good life looks like. But in the short term, I think they just want to win elections.”

Founded in 1928 by Hasan al-Banna, the Brotherhood’s slogan is the not-so-moderate “Allah is our objective; the Quran is our law, the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.”

Eric Trager, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and an expert on Egypt, told The Daily Caller that Kirkpatrick’s assessment of the Muslim Brotherhood as moderate was simply a regurgitation of Muslim Brotherhood propaganda.

“Calling the Muslim Brotherhood moderate is really an ingestion of a Muslim Brotherhood talking point. It’s not analysis,” he said.

Samuel Tadros, a former leader of an Egyptian liberal organization who is currently a research fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, echoed Trager.

“First, the Brotherhood is not moderate. It is pragmatic,” he said. “This means that a change in the hearts and minds of the movement has not occurred. They are able to develop innovative answers to assuage fears, but their own ideological commitment has not changed. The base is still fed and reads the same texts it has always read.”

Tadros said that the Muslim Brotherhood is skilled at duping Western reporters.

“Given the level of repression it was under during previous regimes and its need to outreach to other opponents of the regime and, more importantly, the West, it has mastered the art of double talk and perfect answer to well-known questions,” he said. “Its messages to Western reporters are quite different from what its rank and file is fed in Arabic.”