The Muslim Brotherhood has released several statements in response to the anti-Muhammad film that surfaced earlier this week, leading to protests taking place at the US embassy in Cairo, and US consulate in Benghazi. President Mohamed Morsi issued an initial statement on Facebook on Wednesday, elaborating on the same points during a speech at the European Commision in Brussels on Thursday.

For the most part, the three statements followed the same pattern and tone, while the Muslim Brotherhood statement was far heavier in its use of religious rhetoric than that used by prominent Brotherhood member, Khairat al-Shater and Morsi.

President Mohamed Morsi

Mohamed Morsi waited until Thursday before publicly speaking out about the incident. His initial response, taking a page from SCAF, came on Wednesday in the form of a Facebook statement. A translation of the statement reads:

"The presidency denounces in the strongest terms the attempt to insult the Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) and condemns the people who produced this extreme action. The Egyptian people, both Muslims and Christians, reject this insult against the sacred. 

The presidency also emphasizes that the Egyptian state is responsible for the protection of private and public properties and thereby the diplomatic missions and embassies of different countries. 

It also affirms the protection and respect for the freedom of expression and the right to peaceful protest within the confines of the law while firmly opposing any irresponsible attempt to create lawlessness.

The president and the embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt in the United States have commissioned the undertaking of all possible, legal actions to respond to these individuals who seek the sabotage the relations and dialogue between peoples and nations."

A similar statement was broadcast on State TV on Thursday morning.

It wasn’t until he had left the country, speaking from the European Commission in Brussels on Thursday, that he made a public appearance to comment on the issue. The Washington Post shared the following excerpts from his speech:

“Muslims and Christians in Egypt are equal citizens and have the same rights… We are cautious about those principles and human values, also respecting visitors and respecting tourists… and respecting and protecting diplomatic delegations and private and public properties, and not attacking them.

“Freedom, and ensuring safety of self, and protecting this freedom and people and preserving property is the responsibility of the Egyptian nation.” 

“The Egyptian nation is capable now of protecting people’s opinions and allowing them breathing room, as well as protecting diplomatic delegations and all foreigners, visitors, tourists, embassies and consulates in Egypt.”

“I see in Egypt and the Arab and Islamic world a severe anger toward the violations made by a very small number of individuals. They have insulted the prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him. We stand very strongly against this. We don’t agree with or approve this, and we stand against anyone who tries to raise such false slogans and create these disturbances, tension and hatred between populations.”

“Those [people] are not accepted, not by people in Egypt nor other Arab and Islamic countries, nor by their own people. I affirm that the American people reject this and I’ve called on them to declare their rejection of them, at the same time with our rejection of those bad practices that bring harm and not benefit.”

“At the same time, we don’t accept, condone, or approve at all for there to be attacks on embassies, consulates or people, or killing in any way.”

“We want to cooperate with the entire world and we are cooperating now with the E.U. and the European people and with the American people and others and the U.S. administration to prevent such practices in the future. Also, we insist on the protection of persons, properties and embassies. The Egyptian people are very civilized and could not ever express their rejection of such practices with an attack on an embassy or person or consulate.”

A video of the full Brussels press conference is available here (video expires in 7 days). 

Official Muslim Brotherhood Statement

The official Muslim Brotherhood statement, published both in English and Arabic, focused heavily on the content of the film, and the insult to religion it poses. An excerpt from the statement reads:

“The repeated abuse of the Messenger of God indicate the presence of hatred and bigotry in those who stand behind it, with ignorance, connivance and indulgence in those who permit such persistent abuse.

Thus hurting the feelings of one and a half billion Muslims cannot be tolerated, and the people’s anger and fury for their Faith is invariably predictable, often unstoppable.

We denounce abuse of all Messengers of God, Prophets and Apostles, and condemn this heinous crime. We further call for criminalization of assaults on the sanctities of all heavenly religions.

Otherwise, such acts will continue to cause devout Muslims across the world to suspect and even loathe the West, especially the USA, for allowing their citizens to violate the sanctity of what they hold dear and holy. Hence, we demand that all those involved in such crimes be urgently brought to trial.

Certainly, such attacks against sanctities do not fall under the freedom of opinion or thought. They are crimes and assaults against Muslim sanctities, and must not be tolerated by the countries where they are produced or launched, since they are also detrimental to the interests of those countries in dealings with the peoples of the Muslim world.

The West has passed and imposed laws that punish those who deny or express dissident views on the Holocaust or question the number of Jews killed by Hitler, a topic which is purely historical, not a sacred doctrine.

The peoples and governments of the Muslim world have every right to condemn, with all peaceful and legal means, this new violation and heinous attack, and to take appropriate action to deter repeats of such acts of barbaric aggression.

While we reject and condemn the bloodshed and violent response to that abuse and the incredible tolerance certain countries show towards it, we cannot ignore the fact that these countries never made a move regarding the abuse until after the strong reaction seen across the Muslim world.

We believe those countries should take appropriate actions and lay out clear and proper procedures to deal with such crimes, especially since preparations for this abuse took place plainly, right under the noses of authorities in those countries – over several months. Prevention is always better than cure.

Finally, we call upon all Muslims to uphold and apply Quranic principles and emulate the Messenger of Allah. That is the most effective way to honor him – by setting a good example, particularly because this abuse comes at a time when peoples are trying to communicate with mutual respect.

Those who insult the sanctities wish to poison budding relations between the peoples, to disrupt the efforts to build bridges between civilizations, and to sow discord between the peoples.”

The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party also issued a statement in Arabic demanding international legislation criminalizing blasphemy. 

Khairat al-Shater

Speaking on behalf of Khairat al-Shater, the Brotherhood’s English language Twitter account published a series of tweets of a short statement made by the Brotherhood Deputy Chairman originally fielded as their presidential candidate before his disqualification. The statement read:

“Our condolences to the American people for the tragic loss of Ambassador Stevens, and three Embassy staff in Libya. Breach of the US Embassy in Cairo is illegal under international law, and police failure to protect embassy has to be investigated. We are relieved none of the US Embassy Cairo staff were harmed and hope US-Egypt relations will sustain turbulence of Tuesday’s events. Egyptians earned the right to voice their opinion and expect the government to protect that right, however, they should do so within bounds of law. We do not hold the US government or citizens responsible for acts of the few that abuse the laws protecting freedom of expression.”

Shater expressed these thoughts in an op-ed which is said to have been distributed to English and Arabic language newspapers today.  

Photo Credit: AFP