Despite President Mohamed Morsi's recent attempt to seize dramatic new powers over Egypt, some in the West still have trouble seeing the Muslim Brotherhood – Morsi's home organization – as anything but a "moderate" political movement.
The challenge grows steeper as reports emerge about Brotherhood torture operations and as the group's supreme leader claims to control Morsi while he leads Egypt.
New York Times Cairo bureau chief David Kirkpatrick last week described the Brotherhood as "politicians" who "are not violent by nature" and in the short run "just want to win elections."
In an interview with talk-show host Hugh Hewitt, Kirkpatrick suggested that Egyptian liberals' concerns about the group are exaggerated and that in recent decades it has "evolved" into "a moderate, conservative but religious, but moderate, regular old political force."
Writing in Egypt's al-Masry al-Youm last week, Mohamed Jarehi describes visits to what he described as several Muslim Brotherhood torture chambers, including what he referred to as its "central torture facility in the Cairo suburb of Heliopolis."
The Daily Caller reported (warning: extremely disturbing photograph) on a translation of the story by al-Monitor.com. "The torture process starts once a demonstrator who opposes President Mohammed Morsi is arrested in the clashes or is suspected after the clashes end," Jarehi wrote, and security forces separate Morsi supporters from foes.
"Then, the [Brotherhood] group members trade off punching, kicking, and beating him with a stick all over his body. They tear off his clothes and take him to the nearest secondary torture chamber," Jarehi wrote. "Before the interrogation process starts, they search him, seize his funds, cellphones or ID, all the while punching and slapping his face in order to get him to confess to being a thug."
Detainees' health conditions appeared poor, with some bleeding from wounds all over their bodies and not receiving medical attention.
The report on the torture centers is the latest allegation of MB human-rights abuses. Egyptians also accuse the Brotherhood of using mob sexual assaults as an intimidation tool against female protesters.
Raymond Ibrahim notes that during this year's presidential campaign, Morsi's foes portrayed him as a "stooge" for Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie, who has referred to Israelis as "rapists" and called for jihad against the Jewish State. Brotherhood officials and Morsi promised that he would be his own man. But in a recent interview with an Egyptian television station, Ibrahim writes, a Brotherhood official was asked point blank if Badie was the real ruler of the country.The official responded, "Yes, the Supreme Guide rules Muhammad Morsi."