By Barry Rubin
Recently, Tariq Ramadan, considered by the Western intelligentsia to be the very epitome of enlightened Islamism, wrote a New York Times op-ed in which he was not only allowed–among other total lies–to deny that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and his grandfather, who then led the group, were Nazi collaborators before, during, and even after World War Two. In fact, he dares claim–because he knows the mainstream media will not expose this lie–that the Muslim Brotherhood was an anti-fascist organization!
I wrote a short but detailed letter to the newspaper on this point at the urging of my readers but, not surprisingly, it went unpublished. Meanwhile, a student at an elite American college wrote me how this oped article was taught by his teacher as the absolute truth.
We have crossed the border into “The Twilight Zone.”
Dr. Wolfgang Schwanitz, probably the world’s leading authority on Germany and the Middle East, and myself are writing a book entitled Germany, The Nazis, and the Making of the Modern Middle East that will be published by Yale University Press next year.
The book will revolutionize people’s understanding of this issue. But I’d like to present you with three draft paragraphs from the book—fully documented by German documents—on the particular issue of the Muslim Brotherhood and fascism.
Here’s the first one:
“The Islamists of the Brotherhood were well-financed by the Germans, both directly and through [Amin] al-Husaini [leader of the Palestinian Arabs and a collaborator with the Germans]. Wilhelm Stellbogen, director of the German News Bureau in Cairo, an Abwehr [German Military Intelligence] man, and acting press attaché, paid sums of 1,000 Egyptian pounds to them several times during 1939 alone. To put this sum into perspective, the Brothers high-priority fund-raising effort for Palestine netted only 500 pounds for that entire year. The mufti of Jerusalem, leader of the Palestine Arabs Amin al-Husaini who was in Berlin cooperating closely with Hitler, also supplied money through his contacts in Cairo like Auni Abd al-Hadi, Muhammad Ali Tahir, and Sabri Abd ad-Din.”
Al-Husaini, with the Brotherhood’s cooperation, planned to kill all Jews in the Middle East once the German army conquered the area. In preparation, he sent three of his men to an SS course to learn about mass extermination.
Here’s the second section:
“On the evening of July 7, 1942, [when it seemed as if the German army would soon conquer Cairo] the Voice of the Free Arabs [the station controlled by Amin al-Husaini, mufti of Jerusalem and leader of the Palestinian Arabs] broadcast to Egypt the following message:
“Kill the Jews who took your valuables….According to Islam it is a duty to defend your lives. This can only be fulfilled by the liquidation of the Jews. This is your best chance to get rid of this dirty race. Kill the Jews! Set their possessions on fire! Demolish their shops! Liquidate those evil helpers of British imperialism! Your only hope for rescue is to annihilate the Jews before they do this to you.”
The Muslim Brotherhood, along with the neo-fascist Young Egypt party, had been given German weapons which an Arab commando team in the German army had hidden in western Egypt. It was ready to spring into action to murder Egyptian Jews and deliver the country to the Nazis. But it was prevented from carrying out this plan by the British, who seized control of Egypt in a virtual military coup at this moment. In addition, on the very day this broadcast was made, the advance of General Erwin Rommel’s forces was stopped.
But the Nazi weapons were used eventually. After the war, the Brotherhood dug them up and used them to arm their forces sent to wipe out Israel in the 1948 war. One of those in the unit–as was demonstrated in my biography of Arafat–co-authored with Judith Colp Rubin–Yasir Arafat: A Political Biography, was Arafat himself
The New York Times and other newspapers that printed Ramadan’s false account should publish the truth about the Muslim Brotherhood’s collaboration with the Nazis as well as its virulent and frequently expressed antisemitism that continues to this day.
The fact that Middle East experts, historians, and others have not deluged the Times with criticism for this travesty is astonishing.
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are Lebanon: Liberation, Conflict, and Crisis (Palgrave Macmillan), Conflict and Insurgency in the Contemporary Middle Eastand editor of the (seventh edition) (Viking-Penguin), The Israel-Arab Reader the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria(Palgrave-Macmillan), A Chronological History of Terrorism (Sharpe), and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley).