"Obama Undermining Moderate Muslims"- writes Khaled abu Toameh

by Khaled abu Toameh in Hudson - New York

The United States administration's recent decision to establish contacts with Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood organization is a severe blow to moderate, secular Muslims who are trying to achieve democracy and prosperity in their countries.

The U.S. announcement will only undermine the so-called "Facebook Uprising" that has been sweeping the Arab and Muslim world in the past few months.

This is an uprising spearheaded by secular Muslims who have, until now, succeeded in marginalizing Islamic fundamentalist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Muslim Brotherhood did not play any role in toppling the regimes in Tunisia and Egypt. Nor does the organization seem to have any significant role in the anti-government uprisings in Yemen, Syria and Libya.

But the Obama administration's decision to engage the Muslim Brotherhood will pump life into the organization and bolster its supporters in the rest of the Arab and Muslim countries.

Moreover, the decision sends a message to radical Muslims that they are marching in the right direction and it is only a matter of time before the rest of the world, including the Leader of the Free World, recognizes them as legitimate players.

Those who want to conduct dialogue with the Muslim Brotherhood are also endorsing the organization's political and religious allies, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hizbullah.

These organizations seek to impose strict Islamic teachings and laws on all Muslims and Arabs. Their common goal is to take the Arabs and Muslims several centuries back.

Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the Obama administration is open to dialogue with the once-banned Muslim Brotherhood.

The Muslim Brotherhood, for its part, has, of course, welcomed that decision, expressing hope that Washington has "revised its previous policies and decided to side with the rights of the people and their demands to stop supporting the corrupt and tyrannical regimes, backing the Zionist occupation and using double standards."

If the Obama administration is going to talk to the Muslim Brotherhood, there is no reason why it should not also launch dialogue with Hamas, the Taliban, Hizbullah and even al-Qaeda. Engaging Muslim extremists, without demanding that they abandon their dangerous policies and violence, is a huge mistake.

Or is this what it is planning to do -- but without these demands?

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