In just the past few months there has been a rash of articles and blog entries that bring up and expand upon the sad fact that Amin el-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem collaborated with Hitler during WWII. This comes at the same time as President Bush’s use of the term Islamic Fascists appearing to validate a term used over the last few years among those determined to provoke a clash of civilizations. Whether the sudden proliferation in the use of this term (or its’ variants – Islamo-Nazi, Islamo-Fascist, etc.) and the articles attempting to find some connection with Islam and the Nazis and Fascists is simply a case of extremists feeding off of each other in our world of almost instantaneous communication, or is due to a calculated campaign is debatable, but the end result is an increase in Islamophobia and mutual distrust. Such stereotyping all too often leads to a dehumanization of the “other” and has historically been the precursor to isolation, discrimination, and violence. Such descriptions also blur distinctions and create an atmosphere in which the “enemy” becomes most or all Muslims.
Robert Duncan’s article “Islamic terrorism linked to Nazi fascists” on Renew America uses the Mufti/Hitler photo as justification for President Bush’s use of the term Islamic Fascists. Others who have jumped on this bandwagon are Jonah Goldberg in “The Swastica and the Scimitar”, Gene Pinkam, Alan Dershowitz, Timothy Furnish (who is opposed to the use of the term, but whose ‘reasons’ for that opposition still play into the same mindset, Daniel Johnson, etc.
Little Green Footballs is showing archival footage of Hitler and the Mufti, a number of blogs are referring to a photo of Hitler together with the Grand Mufti, and Daveed Gartenstein-Ross even stretches the Mufti’s aberrational behavior to include a generalized “Muslim World’s sympathy with the axis alliance”. And, the propoganda film ”Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West” is being shown across the U.S. and Canada and attempts to make this same connection. This is a pointless attempt at justifying stereotyping and Islamophobia. Certainly there were some Muslims who were Nazis or Fascists, but they were a small minority compared to all of those who fought against the Nazis and the Fascists.
The actual Nazi party originated in Germany, a predominantly Christian country. The actual Facists came out of Italy, another predominantly Christian country. The Nazis and Fascists were predominantly Christians. Christianity had a role in the rise and fall of the Nazi’s. The Vatican signed a concordat with Hitler’s Reich. The Catholic responses to Hitler were ambiguous at least. There are numerous photographs of Hitler with various Christian clergy including Archbishop Cesare Orsenigo, the papal nuncio in Berlin, and with a Catholic Cardinal, Spanish and German Bishops giving Nazi and Fascist salutes, Cardinal Michael Faulhaber marching in a Nazi parade, the Reich Bishop Ludwig Muller, and many more that are still available. There are also numerous photographs of Christian symbols in Nazi artifacts.
Hitler himself referred to Christianity as a foundation for his beliefs: “The National Government will regard it as its first and foremost duty to revive in the nation the spirit of unity and cooperation. It will preserve and defend those basic principles on which our nation has been built. It regards Christianity as the foundation of our national morality, and the family as the basis of national life.” Source: My New World Order, Proclamation to the German Nation at Berlin, February 1, 1933 The Christian connection with the Nazis and Fascists was widespread and well-documented. The Muslim connection was minimal. And, just as there were Christians who resisted and fought against the Nazi and Fascist regimes there were also many Muslims who fought against this evil worldview.
The other side of the story is not mentioned
– The Bulgarian Christians and Muslims who protected Jews from the Nazis.
– The Albanian Muslims and Christians who saved Jews from the Nazis. In fact, Albania (a predominantly Muslim country) was the only country in Europe that had a larger Jewish population at the end of the war than before the war. Not one Albanian Jew or any other Jew who came to Albania for protection was turned over to the Nazis.
– The 300,000 Moroccan Jews in Israel who mourned the death of King Hassan of Jordan in 1999. His father, Mohammed V, is widely credited with having saved Morocco’s Jews from deportation during World War II, and Hassan continued the philo-Semitic policies of his father. Although there was an outbreak of anti-Jewish incidents following the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the Jewish community was generally safe under the protection of both Mohammed and Hassan, who proudly considered the Jews “Moroccans of Jewish origin.
– Arabs and Jews once fought together under the British Flag against the Nazis in the Palestine Regiment.
– Noor Inayat Khan who fought against the Nazis and was killed at Dachau concentration camp. The stories of Muslim rescuers of Jews are largely unknown and unpublished. Only in the past fifteen years have Holocaust researchers brought a few to the public’s attention. Yad Vashem and other Holocaust memorial groups have honored several Muslims (whose courageous stories we have been able to confirm) as Righteous Gentiles. The Muslim rescuers include:
– The Bosnians Dervis & Servet Korkut, who sheltered a young Jewish woman resistance fighter named Mira Bakovic and saved the Sarajevo Haggadah, one of the most valuable Hebrew manuscripts in the world
– Selahattin Ulkumen, the Turkish Consul at Rhodes, whose rescue of several dozen Jews from certain extermination at Auschwitz led to the death of his wife Mihrinissa when the Nazis retaliated against him
– The Albanian Refik Vesili who — as a 16-year-old — saved eight Jews by hiding them in his family’s mountain home.
– The central Mosque of Paris which served as a shelter for hundreds of French Jewish children being rescued from deportation to death camps.
– The majority of Allied troops that landed on the beaches of Provence in August, 1944 were “Free French” Muslims from North and West Africa. Thousands of Moroccan and Indian Muslim troops voluntarily served in the liberation of Italy. They risked and gave their lives along with Polish freedom fighters and American GIs at Monte Cassino. Tens of thousands more Soviet Muslim troops bravely served at hellish Stalingrad and Leningrad. All of us should honor and be thankful for their sacrifice in helping end the scourge of Nazism.
The bottom line is that all of those who participate in, cooperate with, or do not speak out against evil (no matter what their religion) bring shame on the human race. As the Qur’an warns us all: “Oh you who believe, stand up firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even if it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be against rich or poor; for God can best protect both. Do not follow any passion, lest you not be just. And if you distort or decline to do justice, verily God is well-acquainted with all that you do” (Quran 4:135).