In the past few weeks the story has circulated in conservative news circles that the Muslim Brotherhood has crucified its opponents outside the presidential palace. This story is almost certainly a hoax.
I have been able to draw from elements in the media on both sides of this issues, combining all evidence I could find in a report. For the full text of this report, please click here to access it on Arab West Report. Here, however, are some excerpts:
A primary circulator of the story in the English press is WorldNetDaily, which published an exclusive report on August 17. The article in entitled: ‘Arab Spring Runs Amok: ‘Brotherhood’ Starts Crucifixions. It states ‘Middle East media confirm…’ and then links to a website called The Algemeiner.
Published on August 16, the website published a story written by Raymond Ibrahim, a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. It is entitled: ‘Muslim Brotherhood Crucifies Opponents, Attacks Secular Media’. It states, ‘Several Arabic websites … (listing four) … reported that people were being crucified.’
As I describe in the report, however, these sources do not ‘report’, but rather carry a single news outlet’s report, which it later retracted. Those holding to the truth of the story, however, are quick to point to evidence in the Quran and sharia law.
Websites supporting the accuracy of the story also give as corroborating evidence verse 5:33 of the Qur’an, which states:
Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment.
The evidence again this actually taking place is in the report, but the mere mention of crucifixion suggests the most horrific of pictures. Yet this is not the reality at all and, though those who circulate the story admit this, they play readily on the popular imagery. From the conclusion:
It should be noted that ‘crucifixion’ conjures notions of Jesus upon the cross in standard presentation, nailed to two perpendicular pieces of wood. What is alleged is simply that people were strung up upon a tree. Could it be they may have been only minimally tied to the trunk?
If there was an altercation that evening in front of the presidential palace, however, there are no names of victims provided. Furthermore, all that would be known was that the alleged attack would have been the work of ‘thugs’, as has been common during Egypt’s traditional period. It would be impossible to tie these thugs to the Muslim Brotherhood, or establish they were doing its bidding, except through due process of law.
In light of the assembled evidence, however partial, the best conclusion is that the stories circulated by Algemeiner and WorldNetDaily, and popularized by the Shoebats and others, are meant as propaganda pieces against the Muslim Brotherhood.
There is insufficient evidence to establish that crucifixions took place at all. While it appears there may have been an altercation, even imagining a possible victim tied to a tree, it is a far, far jump to label this as Muslim Brotherhood crucifixions.
While the Qur’an does contain of verse about crucifying a brand of criminal, and marginal Egyptian forces have called for its implementation, the linking of this possible event with these sources is a clear effort to demonize the Muslim Brotherhood as a political force. Even if someone was strung upon a tree, these websites know full well the image of crucifixion in the Western mind is of Jesus and his horrific killing, along the lines of the film ‘The Passion of the Christ’.
This is irresponsible and dangerous journalism. Such verses of the Qur’an deserve rational questioning. The quotations of Salafi politicians and preachers are unnerving. The agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood is under suspicion. But the websites in question have not simply failed to properly investigate a likely hoax; they have aided and abetted it.
Please click here to read the whole article. And, if you have come across this story in the media or from otherwise well meaning friends, please share this to help suppress a campaign of misinformation. Thank you.
- The History of Islamism in Egypt – June 5, 2012
- Islamo-Fascism – April 24, 2012
- Sympathy for Islamists – June 19, 2011
- Conventional Wisdom and the Muslim Brotherhood – June 11, 2011