IkhwanOnline, the official Web site of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, posted an article on Thursday asserting that the country's new interim president, Adly Mansour, is secretly Jewish. The article, since taken offline, suggested that Mansour was part of an American and Israeli conspiracy to install Mohamed ElBaradei, a former U.N. official and Egyptian opposition figure, as president.
Mansour, the supreme justice of Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court, was sworn in as interim president on Thursday after the military announced that President Mohamed Morsi was no longer in charge. Morsi was a close ally of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has held large demonstrations protesting his ouster. That the Muslim Brotherhood would be suspicious of Mansour, and of the military that toppled Morsi to install him, is not surprising.
Still, the IkhwanOnline article suggests that some elements of the Muslim Brotherhood may be indulging in conspiracy theories that ignore their own role in public outrage about Morsi's rule and may be promoting the anti-Semitic ideas that engendered so much international skepticism of their rule. There is no indication that there is any truth to the article.
The article cited as its source the purported Facebook page of an al-Jazeera Arabic broadcaster, although it's not clear whether the Facebook page is real. The article claims that Mansour is "considered to be a Seventh Day Adventist, which is a Jewish sect" (in fact, Seventh Day Adventism is considered part of Protestant Christianity). It further claims that Mansour tried to convert to Christianity but was rebuffed by the Coptic pope, a major Egyptian religious figure, who supposedly refused to baptize him.
The article goes on to connect Mansour's appointment as president to a global conspiracy involving the United States, Israel and Mohamed ElBaradei. According to a translation by the site MBInEnglish, which is run by Cairo-based journalists and dedicated to translating Brotherhood-penned articles into English, the article claimed that ElBaradei had refused to participate in a conference that denied the Holocaust. This, it says, was "a token gesture offered to the Jews by ElBaradei so that he can become President of the Republic in the fake elections that the military will guard and whose results they will falsify in their interests. All with the approval of America, Israel and the Arabs, of course."
The article has since been removed, suggesting perhaps that someone in the Brotherhood had acknowledged the potential for criticism. It would be wrong to conclude from just this one article that the Muslim Brotherhood was retreating back into some of its worst habits: conspiracy theories, anti-Semitism, the insistence that no disagreement could be legitimate. But now that the group has been forced from power, this is a very real risk -- not just for the group and its chances of regaining power, but for an Egyptian political system that is dangerously divided.