The only people on planet earth who are surprised at the Muslim Brotherhood's respectful acknowledgment of Osama bin Laden's death are in the US government who continue to insist that the Brotherhood is a "moderate" force in Egyptian politics.
Most of yesterday's headlines proclaiming the death of Osama bin Laden used epithets like "terror mastermind" or "bastard" to refer to the internationally feared mass murderer. (That latter headline is from the New York Post.) But in its first public statement on the killing of bin Laden, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood used the honorific term "sheikh" to refer to the al-Qaeda leader. It also accused Western governments of linking Islam and terrorism, and defended "resistance" against the U.S. presence in Iraq and Afghanistan as "legitimate."
The Muslim Brotherhood's response to bin Laden's death may finally end the mythology -- espoused frequently in the U.S. -- that the organization is moderate or, at the very least, could moderate once in power. This is, after all, precisely how Muslim Brothers describe their creed -- "moderate," as opposed to al-Qaeda, which is radical. "Moderate Islam means not using violence, denouncing terrorism, and not working with jihadists," said Muslim Brotherhood youth activist Khaled Hamza, for whom the organization's embrace of "moderate Islam" was the primary reason he joined.
Yet the Muslim Brotherhood's promise that its "moderation" means rejecting violence includes a gaping exception: the organization endorses violence against military occupations, which its leaders have told me include Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Bosnia, and Palestine -- in other words, nearly every major conflict on the Eurasian continent.
Even if they don't win a majority of seats in Parliament in the upcoming elections, the Brotherhood will have a large say in the affairs of state in Egypt. The fact that they gave such respect to bin Laden would ordinarily raise alarms in the councils of state across the world.
But in America, the State Department will probably brush it off as fodder for domestic consumption. More evidence that the self delusion of our foreign policy continues.