The Protocols of the Elders of Zion were a notorious antisemitic forgery used by antisemites as propaganda for anti-Jewish genocide. But Jahangir Mohammed, the director of the Ayaan Institute, argues similar conspiratorial theories about the Muslim Brotherhood could lead to an anti-Muslim genocide.
History often repeats itself. So too does racism, bigotry, and hatred. At the heart of European historical antisemitism was a conspiracy theory developed in the early part of the 20th century, based on a forged document called “The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion.”
The document was an alleged record of minutes of 24 meetings held during the first Zionist Congress in 1897, in which Jews set out to disrupt Christian civilisation (European states) and create a world state under their rule. Their weapons in this alleged takeover of the world, and subversion of European values, were the ideologies of liberalism, Communism, Socialism allied with global finance.
It helped the conspiracy to point out that the architect of the ideology for political change in Europe and Russia at the time was a Jew named Karl Marx. It helped the conspiracy that there was a Zionist movement trying to create a state where Jews in Europe could be free from persecution because of their faith and race. It also helped that there was a financial and political crisis in Europe and a few Jewish people were indeed part of the world of finance, because all stereotypes, myths and conspiracy theories contain perceived reality and some facts.
The conspiracy and antisemitic ideas were propagated throughout Europe until they were finessed by Adolf Hitler, a demagogue armed with a political cause in a democratic state. The rest is a terrible history of genocide, world war and millions of dead.
The lesson being that prejudice and hate armed with a state and media propaganda, often lead to hatred, wars, and genocide.
Anti-Islamic conspiracy theories
After the collapse of Communism, a contemporary conspiracy theory began to take shape during the Reagan years in the U.S – the “Green Threat of Islam” (or Islamic fundamentalism) replaced the “Red Threat” of Communism.
It helped that the U.S.’s favourite ruler in the Muslim world, the Shah of Iran, was toppled by religious Ayatollahs. It helped that there were movements in the Muslim world trying to take back their countries from Western-backed regimes. It also helped that people in the Muslim world expressed this desire for political change in alien religious terms and narratives (how else would religious non-secular societies express themselves?).
And it helped the narrative that some Muslims adopted violence against Western countries which backed their rulers; and some also called for Islamic States to protect Muslim life, much like Jews had called for a Jewish state.
So increasing religiosity among Muslims, with outward Islamic appearance, were the visible ingredients needed to highlight the “alien” threat to Europe.
From Green Threat to the War of Terminology
After 9/11, Western ideologues with the help of so-called experts and propagandists fine-tuned the global threat of Islam, using terms like “Islamist,” “terrorist,” and “extremist” which replaced “Islamic fundamentalism.”
Legions of articles, books and media stories with “experts” propagated the threat of global terror and “Islamism.” Takeover terminology, highlighting the threat to European societies and values, became normalised, espoused by politicians and enshrined in policies.
For example, “networks of global terror,” “global Jihad,” “they hate our values and way of life,” “they are a threat to our freedom,” “Londonistan,” “Eurabia,” “Sharia imposed in our cities,” “non-Muslims being forced to eat halal,” “Trojan Horse school takeover,” “entryism,” “Islamification” are all too common.
Like in a James Bond movie, the U.S. and the West are presented as being on a mission to save society from an assortment of evil characters attempting to rule or ruin the world. First Khomeini, then Al Qaeda, then ISIS and these days the Muslim Brotherhood or even “Sultan” Erdogan. Not only does Western civilisation have to be “safeguarded” from the threat of Islam, but Muslims must be safeguarded from harm even from their own religion.
Of course the terminology and language is just code or trope for Islam and Muslims. It is rooted in centuries old European anti-Islamic sentiments, mythology and stereotypes.
There has of course been a real threat of violence in the West by individuals linked to two main groups – Al Qaeda and ISIS. But instead of targeting them specifically, entire countries and communities of Muslims, and their faith, have been collectively held responsible, demonised, targeted, or punished for the acts of a small number of individuals.
The terminology and language of threat, danger, and takeover by Muslims has even been adopted as far away as India and China. Anti-Islam and Muslim hate has gone global.
The Muslim Brotherhood
In 2011, mass movements of desperate ordinary people, trying to survive and calling for some basic needs and dignity, emerged in the Arab world.
The Muslim Brotherhood, whilst not the instigators of the uprisings, benefited and emerged as the only group capable of organising an alternative to the status quo. The elders of the Brotherhood made some mistakes, which led to the old order taking back control, aided and abetted by some Gulf states and Western governments. And as a result of that experience, the Muslim Brotherhood movement has now largely become discredited among younger Muslims.
In the Syria conflict ISIS emerged on cue to put an end to the Syrian revolution. One day the truth will emerge about this movement. An edition of the ISIS magazine, Dabiq, has the headline “The Murtad (apostate) Brotherhood” on its front cover. They argue that the Muslim Brotherhood is a deviant group.
And whilst ISIS declared the Brotherhood “Murtad,” Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt has acted as a willing executioner. Thousands of members of the Muslim brotherhood have now been imprisoned, tortured and many killed, whilst the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Israel and even the USA, France, and Austria consider the Brotherhood terrorist or extremist. They have all also declared them and “political Islam” deviant.
Some regimes in the Middle East, fearing that their days are numbered, have engaged in a vicious effort to wipe out the Muslim Brotherhood along with Western States, even targeting legitimate organisations in Europe using the charge of terrorism and Islamic deviancy.
‘The Brotherhood plot to take over the world’
In Europe and the U.S., the demonisation of the Muslim Brotherhood via “plots to take over the world” have already been normalised. Media articles, interviews, think tank publications, politicians, and even terrorism/extremism experts sing from the same hymn sheet. Syed Qutb has replaced Karl Marx as the ideologue behind the movement to take over the world; and you guessed it, the Muslims are in alliance with socialists, liberals, or leftists (Islamo-leftists) to undermine traditional Christian civilisation.
Mosques, charities, schools, individual acts of violence, even sympathetic politicians are all these days being linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and “The Plot.” There is even a website globalmbwatch.com to monitor Brotherhood activities. And the sheer scale of literature and media commentary on this new conspiracy theory dwarfs the Jewish protocols conspiracy.
Here are just a few sample headlines:
In fact, the Muslim Brotherhood has been sufficiently demonised for European countries to now close organisations and seize assets of anyone linked to them in order to outlaw “political Islam.” And it is not surprising that the French have taken a lead in this latest anti-Islamic agenda. After all they were the first to adopt the antisemitic conspiracy theories too. It was also the Dreyfus affair in France (1894-1906) that led Theodor Herzl to conclude that Jews were no longer safe in Europe.
“Islamophobia” is rooted in political propaganda
There is no Muslim Brotherhood or Muslim plot to take over Europe or subvert its values. Like the Protocols, it is a conspiracy theory.
Anti-Islamic and Muslim hate is deliberately generated political propaganda by states and groups to achieve political goals. It is the deliberate demonisation and dehumanisation of a people, just as it once was with Catholics and Jews in Europe. It is faith-based, not race-based persecution. The current political goal, as it was during The Crusades, is to prevent real political change in the Middle East. The tropes and stereotypes of Islam and Muslims are centuries old.
If only Europeans would take a look in the mirror (instead of concocting conspiracy theories) they would see a reflection of their own insanity and a road that leads to their own dark past.
All that is missing now is a political demagogue like Hitler.