The New York Times is certainly one of our nation's most-esteemed newspapers. Although I don't read it on a regular basis, I assume that the men and women who write for the paper try their best to be good reporters: fair and accurate, neutral and factual.
They got this one wrong.
On Friday, Feb. 4, the paper printed an article about the crisis in Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization which if front-and-center of the calls for reforms there and the ousting of President Mubarak. The article gives a brief background on the Muslim Brotherhood:
The Muslim Brotherhood’s deep hostility to Israel — which reflects majority public opinion in Egypt — would pose difficulties for American policy. Its conservative views on the rights of women and intolerance of religious minorities are offensive by Western standards. But the group is far from monolithic, and is said to be divided between those who would never accept Israel’s right to exist and those who accepted a two-state solution in which Israel and Palestine exist side by side.
The organization was founded by an Egyptian schoolteacher and imam, Hassan al-Banna, as a grass-roots association whose goal was to promote the reform of Muslim society by a greater adherence to Islam, through preaching, outreach and the provision of social services.
But Mr. Banna did speak of jihad, too, as a struggle against colonialism and Zionism. Quotations from the Brotherhood’s founder have been highlighted in recent years by Western critics who portray the movement as a militant threat.
From what I know of Islamic history and the Brotherhood, this all seems accurate. While the Brotherhood has often focused on charitable activity and political means to change unfair structures, it remains, at its core an organization of hatred, especially towards Jews. It is also, at the very least, an organization that works to keep women and religious minorities (like Coptic Christians) out of positions of social and political power.
So what, you might ask? Why do I care? (That's a long list, by the way.) However, what struck me most about the article was this little gem, at the beginning of this "in-depth" article:
Its size and diversity, and the legal ban that has kept it from genuine political power in Egypt for decades, make it hard to characterize simply. As the Roman Catholic Church includes both those who practice leftist liberation theology and conservative anti-abortion advocates, so the Brotherhood includes both practical reformers and firebrand ideologues. (emphasis added)
What is this talking about?? Yes, the Church is a big Church, and there are a lot of ding-bats on both ends of the spectrum. However, we are not a Church founded on principles of keeping certain groups out of power, against Jews, women, minorities or of promoting one type of governmental strucuture over another. (If you think I'm wrong, show me where. In Church documents. Go ahead. I dare you.) This is an outrage comparison, both practically and journalistically.
What are you talking about? Read the article, and see if you think the Church deserves this back-handed comparison.
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