Feb. 18, 2011, marked the triumphal return to Cairo of the Muslim Brotherhood’s “spiritual guide,” Yusuf al-Qaradawi, after years of exile. His public reemergence in Egypt was sanctioned by the nation’s provisional military rulers. Qaradawi’s own words, as well as the images and actions that accompanied him during his return, should have shattered the myth that the turmoil leading to President Mubarak’s resignation augured the emergence of a modern, democratic Egyptian society devoted to Western conceptions of individual liberty and equality before the law.
But unlike the Middle East Media Research Institute, and my colleague al-Mutarjim (whose translation follows), mainstream-media outlets failed to report that Qaradawi issued a clarion call for the jihad reconquest of Jerusalem. Likewise, they failed to predict the events of the subsequent ten months, including the open ascendancy of the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates across North Africa and the entire Middle East. Instead, as late as August 2011, Hoover Institution fellow Fouad Ajami was writing in the Wall Street Journal that the uprisings were “the Arabs’ 1989, their supreme moment of historical agency,” and that “for once the ‘Arab Street’ was not gripped by anti-Zionism and anti-Americanism, for once it wasn’t looking beyond its geography for alien demons.”
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