How 'Non-Violent' Is the Muslim Brotherhood?

Twice in two days, the Times has insisted the Egyptian Islamist group has renounced violence. Yet the group's Palestinian branch is Hamas, a terrorist organization committed to the destruction of Israel.
Much of the coverage of the turmoil in Egypt has focused on the local branch of the international Islamic group Muslim Brotherhood, a possible beneficiary of the violence that may overthrow Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak from the throne he's held for nearly 30 years. Twice in the last two days the Times has taken pains to uphold the "non-violent" nature of the Brotherhood. But how accurate is that description.

John Leland's report from Baghdad on Thursday argued that jihadi groups like Al Qaeda that may want to exploit the opening in Cairo face a challenge from the Brotherhood:

The jihadi groups, which created mayhem in Egypt in the early part of the last decade, were largely crushed by Mr. Mubarak's government, and do not enjoy popular support. They face structural challenges in Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood, a conservative but nonviolent organization, forms the best-known political opposition.

The trope also appeared in Wednesday's front-page story from Washington by Mark Landler, Helene Cooper and David Kirkpatrick, "A Diplomatic Scramble as an Ally Is Pushed to the Exit."

Significantly, during the meeting, White House staff members "made clear that they did not rule out engagement with the Muslim Brotherhood as part of an orderly process," according to one attendee, who like others interviewed for this article spoke on condition of anonymity because he did not want to talk publicly about the meeting. The Muslim group had been suppressed by Mr. Mubarak, and Bush administration officials believed it was involved in terrorist activities. It renounced violence years ago.

But those are simplistic descriptions of the Muslim Brotherhood, as former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy has previously pointed out at National Review Online.

One might wonder how an organization can be thought to have renounced violence when it has inspired more jihadists than any other, and when its Palestinian branch, the Islamic Resistance Movement, is probably more familiar to you by the name Hamas - a terrorist organization committed by charter to the violent destruction of Israel. Indeed, in recent years, the Brotherhood (a.k.a., the Ikhwan) has enthusiastically praised jihad and even applauded - albeit in more muted tones - Osama bin Laden.