Voices from the Arab press: ‘Haj Muhammad Hitler’

A weekly selection of the opinions and analyses from the Arab media around the world

A TURKISH copy of Adolf Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ on display at a bookstore in Istanbul. (photo credit: REUTERS/FATIH SARIBAS)
A TURKISH copy of Adolf Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ on display at a bookstore in Istanbul.

Al-Masry Al-Youm, Egypt, December 6

In 1925, Egyptian scholar Ali Abdel Raziq published his book Islam and the Foundations of Governance, in which he argued against a role for religion in politics. Consequently, he was dismissed from his job under the direction of King Fuad, who aspired to become a caliph to the Muslims and supported the nascent Muslim Brotherhood movement.

Notably, at the exact same time, Europe witnessed the publication of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, laying out his racist ideology and vision that paved his way to the leadership of the Nazi Party, which riled Germany in 1933.
What is striking here is that both worlds – Europe and the Arab world – suffered from the illusion of grand power and racial supremacism, each in its own way. Both worldviews drew strong inspiration from a long-lost past.
While Egyptian and the Arab Islamists drew inspiration from the fall of the Ottoman Empire, Hitler and his Nazi Party looked back at their country’s defeat in World War I. In both contexts, a radical movement managed to creep in from the fringe of society and assume center stage by pushing the masses to ruminate over the past and galvanizing them to adopt a fictional future. The Muslim Brotherhood, just like the Nazi Party, clung to a humiliating historical defeat in order to stir the public’s feelings and mobilize the masses in its favor.

Religion, just like politics, has been made by men. Therefore, it is subject to human bias and human interests.
The strange convergence between Nazism and Islamic jihad was most apparent during World War II, when Amin al-Husseini, the grand mufti of Jerusalem, traveled to Berlin to meet with Hitler, declaring jihad against the Allies, led by Britain. In fact, there were rumors floating throughout the Arab world that Husseini gave Hitler the title “Haj Muhammad Hitler” after teaching him the theory of Islamic martyrdom.

Following World War II and the defeat of Nazism, the Western world finally rid itself of fascist movements that espoused radical ideologies. But in the East, and especially in the Arab world, the concept of political Islam continued to develop and grow into a destructive ideology. The West isolated itself against ideological extremism by uprooting Nazism, while in the Arab world, thousands of Hitler sympathizers grew up speaking Arabic and professing Islam. Unfortunately, while Europe escaped its problematic legacy with Nazism, the Middle East became a hotbed for many of its radical ideologies. While Europe turned its face toward freedom and democracy, many in the Arab world, inspired by “Haj Muhammad Hitler,” began openly adopting Islamic fascism.
– Hussam al-Adli

Al-Arab, London, December 2

“There are only a handful of cases in which a country has demonstrated such remarkable capability to strike so accurately inside another country with which it is at war,” said Bruce Riddell, a former CIA official with experience working with Israel, regarding the recent assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh on the outskirts of Tehran.

In an official statement from the Iranian regime, Kamal Kharrazi, head of the Strategic Council for Foreign Relations in Iran, claimed that Iran “will respond in the right time and place” to the killing of Fakhrizadeh.

The truth is that the assassination of Fakhrizadeh, the unique new way in which it was carried out, and the time chosen for its execution, are a major insult to the mullah regime, joining a long list of insults directed at Iran by Israel. In one year alone, the mullah regime sustained hundreds of painful Israeli strikes in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, and even in Iran itself.

This goes without even mentioning the deadly American strikes that destroyed strategic Iranian assets, and the notable assassination of Qasem Soleimani just several months ago.

In the wake of these undeniable insults, the Iranian regime will do anything it can to restore its lost prestige, both at home and abroad. It will have to respond. But it is afraid to do so while unraveling greater Israeli anger.
The truth remains that the only two powers capable of confronting the Iranian regime are the United States and Israel. And both powers have made it unequivocally clear that they will not allow Tehran to possess a nuclear weapon – neither today nor tomorrow.

So why does the Iranian regime refuse to come to terms with this reality and insist, instead, on starving half of its population, impoverishing it, and sending hundreds of its children to die in useless wars in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Palestine?

Every month, unemployment and poverty bring out hundreds of thousands of Iranians to the streets, where they chant “death to the dictator.” Many of them are arrested; others are tortured and killed. Approximately twenty-five million Iranians live below the poverty line. The hungry cannot endure their hunger for long. The oppressed cannot remain silent about their oppression. Demonstrations, protests and sit-ins will continue to unfold in Iran.
A large portion of the Iranian public blames the current regime for its miserable living conditions. The mullahs brag about their nuclear program, but the ultimate cost is borne by the average citizen. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and other senior leaders of his regime often boast that they have a presence in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Palestine. But unlike the external enemies they claim to fight, their biggest enemy is at home, growing from within.

Will Khamenei finally stop using the same old boring trope of dignity, sovereignty, jihad and the erasure of Israel and finally accept the fact that his people are living under a brutal reality? \
– Ibrahim al-Zubaidi

Asharq al-Awsat, London, December 6

In his upcoming book titled “The Years of the Arab League,” former secretary-general of the Arab League and notable Egyptian diplomat Amr Moussa recounts his remarkable memories from a decade of service in the organization.

Moussa stepped into his role just a few months before the September 11 attacks, and led the pan-Arab organization through one of its most tumultuous eras.

When he entered office, he was warned that the organization’s days were numbered and that it would likely collapse. Moussa recalls a conversation with president Hosni Mubarak in which the latter told him “the number of times people warned me that the league is dead is too much to remember.” He advised his top diplomat against listening to these doomsday predictions.

This short anecdote is a good reminder that for all the frequent talk about the uselessness of the Arab League, the negativity of its role, and its supposed lack of influence, the league has actually endured and preserved through the biggest crises of the Arab world.

Sure, the League is not devoid of shortcomings – sometimes because of its administration, sometimes because of its member states, and sometimes because of internal politics. We can cite many problems that exist within this dilapidated institution, including its financial and administrative bloat, but this doesn’t negate the fact that the survival of this institution is a top priority of the Arab world. Indeed, it is the only remnant from the era of Pan-Arabism.

Today, it is the only institution that enhances cooperation among Arab states and strengthens their sense of common identity. The league remains a necessary body for Arabs to come together and mobilize against those who conspire against them.

Perhaps because of this fact, Saudi Arabia and most Gulf states were keen to support this institution even during their most difficult days.

Moussa recounts that when he took office he was appalled by the administrative deterioration of the institution, its ramshackle buildings and offices, the weakness of its staff and the lack of funding. He did everything he could to devote his tenure to rebuilding the league from the ground up, succeeding in recruiting the support of the entire Arab world.

The generous support of the Saudi leadership was central to promoting this cause, and the late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz played an instrumental role in saving the league and ensuring its longevity in the future.
– Mishary Al-Zayidi

Translated by Asaf Zilberfarb.