A leader of Egypt’s most influential secular party on Wednesday dismissed the
Holocaust as a “lie,” the Diary of Anne Frank as a “fake” and the September 11
attacks as “made in the USA.”
The comments by the vice chairman of the
putatively liberal Wafd Party pour cold water on lingering hopes that post-
Mubarak Egypt could serve as an exemplar of a modern, progressive democracy in
the Arab world’s most populous state.
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“The Holocaust is a lie,” Ahmed Ezz
el-Arab told The Washington Times in an interview.
“The Jews under German
occupation were 2.4 million. So if they were all exterminated, where does
the remaining 3.6 million come from?” Ezz el-Arab said he accepted that the
Germans had killed “hundreds of thousands” of Jews, “but gas chambers and
skinning them alive and all this? Fanciful stories.”
dismissed The Diary of Anne Frank, which he said he studied as a doctoral
student in Sweden, as a forgery.
“I could swear to God it’s a fake,” he
said. “The girl was there, but the memoirs are a fake.”
chairman also questioned the accepted account of the September 11 attacks. Osama
bin Laden “could not have the know-how or the ability to do it,” he said,
calling the al-Qaida leader “an American agent."
“If he had the ability,
one plane only landing on the Knesset would give more effect,” he said, naming
the Mossad, CIA and America’s “military-industrial complex” as the actual
perpetrators of the terrorist attacks.
Continuing the bizarre tirade, Ezz
el-Arab said American soldiers “with double Israeli nationality and Jewish
religion” stole Jewish antiquities from the Babylonian exile period and reburied
them in Jerusalem to cement their historical claim on the city.
a kind of monument robbery for selling in the black market,” he said. “The
things they took from Babel, they took with the intention – to my judgment – of
digging it under the Aksa Mosque so that when it’s discovered, they say, ‘Here
was the temple.’“ Mubarak’s ouster has stoked concerns in Israel that the 1979
Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty could be abrogated. Ezz el- Arab, who chairs
Wafd’s foreign relations committee, said there was “no chance at all” of that
happening. “Egypt will not go to war unless it’s attacked,” he said.
interview was conducted on the sidelines of the “First Annual Conference on
Democracy and Human Rights,” hosted in Budapest late last month by the Tom
Lantos Institute and Center for Democratic Transition. Lantos, a longtime
Democratic congressman from California who died in 2008, survived a forced-labor
camp in his native Hungary and lost his mother and other family members to the
Approximately 450,000 Hungarian Jews were killed in the
Ezz-el Arab identified with Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial, which he said was founded on antipathy toward
“He’s a hateful character, so whatever he says can be
criticized,” the Wafd leader said.
“[Nevertheless], what he says about
the Holocaust is true, but he doesn’t say it because it’s true. He says it out
of hatred to the Israeli state.”
Iran – with which Egypt recently
reinstated ties – hosted a Holocaust-denial conference in 2006 to protest the
ban in many European countries on questioning the Nazi genocide.
shame that the West – the cradle of liberalism – should have a criminal law
incriminating any discussion of any historical fact,” Ezz el-Arab said. “It’s a
sacred cow. The ‘Six Million’ is a sacred cow.”
A former Wafd youth
leader told the newspaper that while Ezz el-Arab himself does not have a major
constituency in Egypt or within the party itself, his views on the Holocaust are
“The vast majority of Egyptians think the Holocaust never
happened,” Amr Bargisi said. “The fact that [Ezz el- Arab’s] presence in the
party hierarchy hasn’t caused any objections tells you something about the
farcical nature of Egyptian politics.”
The Wafd Party is one of Egypt’s
oldest, established in 1919 and disbanded after the 1952 military coup that
ended monarchic rule. The party was reestablished in 1983 under reforms Mubarak
set in place to allow nominal opposition to the decades-long rule of the
National Democratic Party.
Today – espousing a secular nationalist
platform based on multi-party governance and human rights and featuring a cross
and an Islamic crescent on its logo – it arguably represents the country’s most
influential political bloc after the powerful Muslim Brotherhood.
party’s logo In June, Wafd announced it would run jointly in September’s
parliamentary election with the Brotherhood in a bid to present a united front
in Egypt’s post-revolution government.
“For four years, in alliance, we
can build a constitution based on certain principles that guarantee human
rights, citizenship, no religious trend whatsoever,” Ezz el-Arab
said. “Once this is established, everybody can go to the ballot box and
try his luck.”
Last month, the Brotherhood posted an article on its
website by veteran movement member Sheikh Ahmad Gad arguing that the
implementation of shari’a in Egypt must be achieved gradually, by first
preparing Egyptians’ hearts and minds for Islamic law before introducing it in
“There is no hope for reform without a return to divine rule,
which the Creator chose for man,” Gad wrote June 11 on the movement’s official
website, ikhwanonline, translated by the Middle East Media Research
“There is no other way but gradual action, preparing the souls
and setting an example, so that faith will enter their hearts... Gradual action
does not impose Islam at once, but rather step by step, in order to facilitate
understanding, studying, acceptance, and submission.
“I ask the honorable
Al- Azhar to rally the Islamic streams in order to unite the Muslim word and
effort, restore the caliphate, and prepare a practical plan to implement the law
of Allah the Exalted. This is the goal of the honorable Al-Azhar and of all
Islamic streams,” he wrote, referring to Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, the most
influential institute of Sunni Islamic study.
“O Allah, guide us, open
our hearts to faith, and restore this nation to its previous self – one united
nation worshiping You and You alone.”
Three days earlier, the veteran
Brotherhood figure Kamal Al-Helbawy – a bespectacled figure familiar to Western
audiences as a former movement spokesman to the English-speaking media – called
on Arab youth to launch a new revolution to eliminate borders drawn by
“imperialist nations” and bring about a global Islamic state “called the United
States of Islam.”
“Why shouldn’t we have a country called ‘The United
States of Islam,’” he said in an interview with Egypt’s Al- Shorouk
comments also translated by MEMRI. “I propose that the Arab peoples who
demonstrated for the sake of the revolution, so they could move from the stage
of oppression and corruption to the stage of stability and security, organize
themselves from now on and set a deadline – five or 10 years – [and] take to the
streets with the slogan ‘The Arab People Wants to Remove the
Borders’... These borders were drawn up by imperialist nations, making
our rulers guardians of imperialist borders.”