Muslim Brotherhood eyes Jerusalem as Egyptians choose next president

Sunday, June 10, 2012 |  Ryan Jones

Having already won control of the Egyptian parliament, and with a good chance of putting their man in the president's chair as Egyptians go to the polls later this week, the Muslim Brotherhood is now turning its gaze on Israel.

Secular presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq warned last week that if his Muslim Brotherhood opponent, Mohammed Mursi, wins the run-off presidential vote giving the Islamists unfettered control in Egypt, conflict with Israel will be inevitable.

A prominent Egyptian cleric with ties to the Brotherhood added to those fears last week when he told a large rally that should Mursi win the election, Egypt's capital will no longer be Cairo, but rather Jerusalem.

"The United States of the Arabs will be restored on the hands of that man [Mursi] and his supporters. The capital of the [Muslim] Caliphate will be Jerusalem with Allah’s will," said Safwat Hagazy in a speech broadcast on Egypt's Annas TV. "Yes, we will either pray in Jerusalem or we will be martyred there."

Mursi and other Muslim Brotherhood officials were in attendance at the rally.

Last month, Muslim Brotherhood General Guide Mohammed Badie issued a written statement calling Israel's rebirth the "worst catastrophe ever to befall the peoples of the world" and demanding that the "Zionist entity" withdraw from all the "land of Palestine."

Like Hamas and the regime in Iran, elected Muslim Brotherhood officials (even the president) ultimately answer to or are significantly influenced by religious leaders within their movement. While Mursi may become the president of Egypt, Badie will remain in control of the Brotherhood.

Hamas, which is an off-shoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, is eager for a Mursi victory in Saturday's election.

A Muslim Brotherhood victory "will make Israel weaker and more isolated. Israel will have no friends or alliances left in this region," Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad told the Los Angeles Times last week.

Even before the feared Brotherhood takeover, there are already signs Egypt is returning to a position of outright hostility toward Israel.

Earlier this month, Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram reported that Egypt's government censor had halted production on a private film that allegedly promoted normalization of relations with Israel. The movie's writer insisted that the film - which follows the lives of an Egyptian, a Palestinian and an Israeli - was not intended to promote Israel, but rather to encourage peace and cooperation, something in which Egypt's new rulers apparently have no interest.

At the same time, Egypt's censors approved a wildly popular new song titled "I Love Israel," which in fact urges the exact opposite sentiment toward the Jewish state.

"May it [Israel] be destroyed. May it be colonized. May it be wiped off the map. May a wall fall on it. May it disappear from the universe. God, please have it banished," go the lyrics of the new hit by singer Amr El Masry.

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