|Thursday, September 2,2010 17:32|
|By JEROME LACROIX|
The Muslim brotherhood is about to launch its own Facebook, to spread awareness of “moderate Islamic values”. It will be the only way that ‘brothers’ can communicate in a country where the Society of Muslim Brothers is banned. But the media wants us to ask - what will they be communicating? And for an organisation known for radicalism and violence, does a free and widespread forum pose any risks?
Ikhwanbook (the official name) identifies itself by defining Islamic values better than their competitor Facebook – “It has more reserved use of photographs, less intrusion in the personal lives of members, and a different attitude to homosexuality”.
However, the Brotherhood actively advocates suicide bombing on civilians to combat Zionism, and they have rumoured links with al-Qaeda. So, being cynical, Ikhwanbook has the potential to give fundamentalists another means of recruitment, especially in the Western world where radical clerics find it difficult to recruit – it is much easier on the internet.
Although this raises legitimate fears amongst the western media, the Muslim Brotherhood denounces labels like “fundamentalist” as the media pigeonholing them, and draw attention to their "15 Principles" for an Egyptian National Charter - including "freedom of personal conviction... opinion... forming political parties... public gatherings... free and fair elections..." Indeed, it may be that Ikhwanbook is just a way for Muslims to distance themselves from the “liberal attitudes and opinions” shared widely on Facebook, and stay connected in an environment where they feel more comfortable.
So, with the launch date set “at a later date” we just have to wait and see if the worries about the threat of Ikhwanbook are legitimate. But if Facebook doesn’t ban anti-Islam sites, can we legitimately ban a pro-Islam Facebook.
The importance of free speech as a basic and valuable characteristic of society cannot be underestimated so it is with this perspective that Ikhwanweb highlights and emphasizes the value of this free speech and adheres to the promise of publicizing the different opinions of its readers. However while it respects the idea it equally believes it must clarify any hearsay which is falsely affiliated to the group. For Ikhwanweb to deny the essence of what they ultimately stand for being the freedom of speech they would therefore be no better than those to whom they oppose.
On this note Ikhwanweb stresses that the MB has always promoted peace and has continued to slam violence contrary to allegations that the group advocates, the suicide bombers and is linked with Qaeda. While the MB supports the legitimate right for civilians to resist and protect its lands from any oppressive occupation and to fight for its land it strongly opposes any attacks or targeting of civilians regardless of race, religion or creed.