Republican Congressman Ted Cruz and Mario Diaz-Balart reintroduced a bill yesterday calling on the State Department to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation. Several others, all belonging to the Republican party, are cosponsors.
Cruz said he was proud to reintroduce the bill urging the Biden administration to make the move, and to “advance our nation’s fight against” what he called “radical Islamic terrorism.” Along with Middle Eastern autocrats, right-wing politicians in the West are often accused of using this form of rhetoric as a code for peaceful Muslim political activism.
Introducing the bill, Cruz, described as a “Tea Party nut” for his extreme views, appealed to his solidarity with Arab autocrats. “It’s high time we join our allies in the Arab world in formally recognizing the Muslim Brotherhood for what they truly are—a terrorist organization,” said Cruz, adding that the US had “a duty to hold the Muslim Brotherhood accountable for their role in financing and promoting terrorism across the Middle East.”
This will be the fourth time Cruz has attempted to push a bill that has very little support within Congress. He first introduced the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act in 2015 and previously reintroduced the bill in 2017 and 2020.
There is a general reluctance to proscribe the Muslim Brotherhood a terror group. While proponents of the bill, overwhelmingly from the right, invoke national security, the many opponents of the measure believe that not only will it make America less safe, but it is an ongoing attempt to vilify Muslims, cripple Muslim American civil society, and feeds into the Islamophobia industry.
The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in 1928 in Egypt as a religious, social and political organisation, and has evolved over subsequent decades. Parties adhering to its principles reject the use of violence and seek to be more involved in the mainstream political process.
In a brief on the nine reasons why it would be a mistake to declare the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said that the group does not fit the legal definition of a foreign terrorist organisation.
It also included the “cascade” of diplomatic problems that would arise; the fact that the US makes such designations based on violent actions and not on ideology as well as the fact that it would undermine the very process of listing groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood as terrorist and aligning the US with Arab autocrats.