Here at CPAC, the annual three-day gathering of conservatives of all stripes, there’s been little buzz about the latest developments in Egypt, with president Hosni Mubarak refusing to relinquish his position as the country’s autocratic leader. But the conflict hasn’t gone completely unmentioned here, with a rare few conservative luminaries briefly discussing the massive unrest in Egypt, the protests and turmoil and potential change in power there.
Former House speaker and 2012 presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich was one of them. At an afternoon CPAC event, Gingrich went out of his way to discuss the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic faction in Egypt that has maintained something of a distance from the protests roiling Cairo and other cities. Gingrich frequently points to “Islamofascism” as the biggest threat to the American way of life today, which he did today, quipping that Islamic terrorists “want to kill us because they want to kill us.”
Gingrich stirred up all sorts of fear about the Muslim Brotherhood, painting them as religiously-driven killers whose “way is jihad.” Here are Gingrich’s remarks in full about the Brotherhood:
This is an organization which has as its original founding slogan that our constitution is the Koran, our way is jihad, and our method is dying for Allah. Now, I don’t know which part of that is complicated. But it strikes me that any normal, reasonable, intelligent person would read that and go, ‘you know, I wonder if there’s something religious here.'”
Middle East experts depict the Brotherhood in far less severe terms. For instance, Islamic scholar Christoper Anzalone recently wrote, “Although it is far from being a force for social or political liberalism, certainly of the kind that is desired by progressives in the U.S. and Europe, the Brotherhood is also not the all-powerful Islamist bogeyman and twin sister of al-Qaeda that it is often portrayed as.” That doesn’t nearly sound as bad as Gingrich would have it.