Over the past couple of weeks, as prominent Muslim Brotherhood members tried to sell themselves as harmless in interviews shown on the evening newscasts on ABC, NBC, and CNN, Eliot Spitzer of CNN’s Parker-Spitzer managed to coax spokesman Mohammed Morsy into defending violence against Israel by Palestinians, contradicting the Brotherhood spokesman’s claims in the same interview of being opposed to violence.
Earlier in the interview, which was first seen on the Thursday, February 3 Parker-Spitzer, Morsy had also sidestepped the question of whether the Muslim Brotherhood would support adherence to Egypt’s 30-year treaty with Israel, as he suggested that such matters would be in the hands of the parliament.
CNN correspondent Mary Snow replayed some of the interview on the next day’s Situation Room on CNN. After a clip of Morsy claiming that his organization would support freedom for all religions in Egypt, the piece continued:
MARY SNOW: But when pressed about Israel-
ELIOT SPITZER: Will you then right now disavow the use of violence against the state of Israel?
MOHAMMED MORSY: We do not use violence against anyone. What’s going on on the Palestinian land is resistance. The resistance is acceptable by all mankind, and it’s the right of people to resist imperialism.
ABC’s Christiane Amanpour and NBC’s Richard Engel mildly challenged high-ranking Muslim Brotherhood members in interviews shown on ABC’s World News and the NBC Nightly News, but only succeeded in forwarding to viewers denials that the organization should be feared by the West. From the Monday, January 31, NBC Nightly News :
RICHARD ENGEL: The Muslim Brotherhood denounces terrorism, but supports Islamic law, is anti-Israel, and opposes U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Tonight I visited the Muslim Brotherhood’s main office to interview one of the group’s most senior leaders, Essam al-Arian. He just escaped from prison this weekend.
ESSAM AL-ARIAN: The majority of Egyptians are Muslims, respecting Islam. And the minority has its rights, reserved even by Islam. They are citizens. We are calling for a civil state, democratic state which respect religion, respect all religions, and give all the citizens equal rights and-
ENGEL: Al-Arian lost his voice because he went from his jail cell straight to cheering in Tahrir. He says the Brotherhood can work with the United States and compromise, but offered no specifics. If the Egyptian government falls, isn’t the Muslim Brotherhood just going to take over, and isn’t that bad for stability of the Middle East?
AL-ARIAN: Those are hypocritic about democracy. If they respect democratic principle, they must respect the choice of the people.
From the February 6, World News Sunday on ABC:
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: But it’s the Brotherhood and what role it might take in the future here that is of chief concern to the West. We spoke to Dr. Khalil el-Gazar, a member of the Brotherhood’s leadership council, after the meeting. Everybody is afraid of you, afraid of the Muslim Brotherhood.
DR. KHALIL EL-GAZAR, MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD: Why, I say, I ask why? Give me, give me an answer.
AMANPOUR: Because they don’t want to see a fundamentalist regime where people don’t have choice-
EL-GAZAR: We are not, fundamentalists like, like the Westerners think. We respect all people.
AMANPOUR: He told us the Brotherhood is not seeking the presidency or any cabinet position, and he says the Brotherhood accepts Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel.
AMANPOUR: What about the West? Would you have friendly ties to the West?
EL-GAZAR: We have good feelings towards the Western countries. But what I am searching for, the better feelings from the Western country.
#From the Thursday, February 3, Parker-Spitzer on CNN:
ELIOT SPITZER: So if your, if the Muslim Brotherhood had a significant position in the parliament or your candidate for president were elected would you observe and continue to uphold the peace treaty with Israel?
MOHAMMED MORSY, MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD: Yes, let’s talk about this in some details. If you want to talk about the peace treaty with Israel, this has to do with the parliament. The parliament comes from the people. Then the opinion of the parliament must be respected. Now, if you talk about the last 30 years in this treaty the Israeli hasn’t respected the treaty. In the beginning of the treaty, in the introduction, it talks about comprehensive, peace, where is comprehensive peace?
SPITZER: Well, let me ask the very simple first question. If you’re, the Muslim Brotherhood had a major role in the government or if your candidate were the president would you continue to recognize the existence of the state of Israel?
MORSY: Well, the state of Israel is already registered in the United States. We are talking about the Palestinian state now. Do you recognize a Palestinian state or not?
SPITZER: Well, I’m asking you-
MORSY: The Israeli, does the Israelis recognize a Palestinian state or not? What can we do about a state that’s registered in the United States now?
SPITZER: Mr. Morsy, I understand what you’re saying, but I’m asking you again a simple question which I think can be answered yes or no. I’m not trying to be tough on you but would you recognize the state of Israel if your candidate for president were elected tomorrow? Would you recognize the state of Israel?
MORSY: Sir, sir, sir, this is a heavy question. You want to talk about the future, and you do not look into the past and the present. This is a heavy question. It’s out of faith. It’s ridiculous to ask about the future. Why you don’t have even your freedom in your country and you are close by, the foreign policies of the United States against the Palestinians and others. The blood is shed from the Palestinians for more than 60 years. Let us stop the bloodshed of the Palestinians and then talk about such matters in the future. We are not against people. We are not against mankind. We are not against the Jews. We are against Zionism. We are against torturing the Palestinians.
SPITZER: Can you tell the American people that you have absolutely no connections, no links, with al-Qaeda or any other terrorist organization?
MORSY: Oh, yes, clearly definitely, we do not have any kind of relationships with any organization that is practicing violence. We are against violence, wherever it comes from, governments, states, individuals, organizations. This is not acceptable at all.
SPITZER: Will you right now condemn the attacks by al-Qaeda both in, on the United States and elsewhere in the world as acts that violate-
MORSY: We did before. We are against whoever did this to the civilian people. We are against this act and we said we want a fair trial, not just an accused, and if you prove by a fair trial, you Americans, if you prove by a fair trial who did this, we are against that whoever did it with you. We stand with you against whoever did this if you can prove really who did this.
SPITZER: One, Mr. Morsy, one last question, can you then right now also disavow-
MORSY: This is the, this is the last question after the last question. Go ahead.
SPITZER: Yes, you’re right. You’re catching on to our style. Let me ask you one last question. I promise this is the last one. Will you then right now disavow the use of violence against the state of Israel?
MORSY: We do not use violence against anyone. What’s going on on the Palestinian land is resistance.
SPITZER: All right.
MORSY: The resistance is acceptable by all mankind and it’s the right of people to resist imperialism.
SPITZER: All right, Mr. Morsy, I appreciate your time and I’ve asked 10 last questions and we will, I hope have an opportunity to continue this conversation down the road.