Today, Ibrahim Al-Houdaiby, a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, appeared at UCI. He was invited to UCI by the Center for Research on International and Global Studies and the History Department. His topic was Religion and Democracy in the Middle East. Al Houdaiby portrays himself-and the Muslim Brotherhood as moderate and seeking to establish understanding between Islam and the West. They are opponents of the current Egyptian Government. The event took place as part of a class by Professor Mark LeVIne, a Middle East expert who is considered sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. (His critics consider him anti-Israel.) Members of the public were invited to attend the talk and the question and answer session. Aside from the students in the class, most of the attendees were Muslim students with a handful of Jewish members from the community. There were no incidents or heated exchanges.
Prior to the event, the Brotherhood's website, Ikhwan Web.com, posted an article describing opposition to the appearance. The article linked to a Frontpage.com article. (Al-Houdaiby is a member of the Ikhwan Board.)
Due to my class commitments, I arrived about 30 minutes late, and shortly before the conclusion of Al-Houdaiby's remarks. I was able to attend the Q&A, however. My question was one of the last because Dr LeVine wanted to give his students the chance to ask questions first in the limited time.
I would have liked to claim that I was the only skunk at the garden party, but a few students voiced skepticism about the Brotherhood in their questions about women's rights, the alleged role of the Brotherhood in the assassination of Anwar Sadat and other issues. One young lady described herself as a Coptic Christian and voiced concern about their rights in a Muslim society. (Coptic Christians are a religious minority in Egypt.)Al-Houdaiby denied any Brotherhood involvement in the Sadat assassination and tried to reassure the Coptic lady about the situation in Egypt as it pertains to Coptics. He insisted throughout that the Brotherhood seeks democracy in Egypt.
While Al-Houdaiby speaks fluent English, he tends to speak quite fast and gives lengthy answers that tend to ramble, so (at least for me), it is difficult to follow his monologue. In his statements, Al-Houdaibi insisted that the Brotherhood renounces violence, condemned 9-11 and only seeks understanding with the West.
When I was called upon, I explained that I had arrived late and may have missed remarks that would pertain to my question, which was related to a Muslim Brotherhood memo dated May 22, 1991. I was holding a copy of the memo and passed English and Arabic copies up front for Mr Al-Houdaiby and Dr LeVine.
I digress at this point to explain this memo to the reader. The memo in question is entitled: An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America-5/22/1991. It was written by Mohamed Akram and consists of 18 pages in English. It is addressed to several Muslim groups in North America. This document is stamped, "US v HLF (Holy Land Foundation) and bears prosecution exhibit number 003-0085, which identifies it as a government exhibit in the the Holy Land Foundation prosecution. It is now in the public venue.
I directed Mr Al-Houdaiby's attention to page 7 of the document, section 4, which is entitled: "Understanding the Role of the Muslim Brother in North America". I then read aloud the passage, which follows below:
"The process of settlement is a 'Civilization-Jihadist Process' with all the word means. The Ikhwan must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and 'sabotaging' its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all religions. Without this level of understanding, we are not up to this challenge and have not prepared ourselves for Jihad yet. It is a Muslim's destiny to perform Jihad and work wherever he is and wherever he lands until the final hour comes, and there is no escape from that destiny except for those who chose to slack. But, would the slackers and the Mujahedeen be equal".
I then asked Al-Houdaibi to comment and asked if this is the position of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Al-Houdaiby expressed wonderment at where I had obtained the document, declared it false and stated that it had already been revealed to be false adding that there is no Muslim Brotherhood in the US. He went on to state that it did not reflect the position of the Brotherhood and was against the words of the Brotherhood founder, Hasan Al-Banna. I then followed up by asking if one of the founding principles of the Brotherhood was the imposition of Islam worldwide under Shariah law. This he denied. I then pinned him down by asking if it was his answer to me that the document was a forgery, reminding him that it was a prosecution exhibit used in the above-mentioned trial. He insisted the document was false.
(I should add that I am paraphrasing his answers as I did not record them and I am writing from memory.)
At this point, LeVine suggested that since time was short, perhaps I could chat with Al-Houdaiby later, and he could point out in the Ikhwan website the document was refuted. I mentioned that I needed to rush off (since I had to take my mother to the doctor.) I then left at the conclusion of the talk while LeVine's class resumed. Al-Houdaibi was scheduled to meet informally with students later in the afternoon. I had no further exchange with him.
Was I satisfied with Al-Houdaibi's answer? No. I don't see how he could look briefly at the document as I read one paragraph and conclude that the document was fake. Of course, I would have liked to delve further, but in these forums, you can't hog the floor. I will check out Ikhwan in the coming days to see if this document is addressed.
If anyone is interested in reading the entire document (in Arabic or English), it can be found at: