The murderous German dictator Adolf Hitler, well known for his atrocities against Jews and other segments of society, is being praised as a strong and resolute leader across the Middle East, writes a frustrated opinion columnist for Saudi Arabia-based Al Arabiya.
“It was… a surprise to find out that much of the world thinks differently, and that the murderous dictator is held in high esteem in the Middle East in particular,” opines freelance journalist Florian Neuhof in an editorial for Al Arabiya, titled “You Think Hitler is Great? Think Again.”
“Instead, he is commonly praised as a strong leader, something that seems to resonate strongly with the political outlook in the region,” added Neuhof. “That German democracy was amongst his first victims seems of little concern, strongmen are more in demand than ever since the chaos and bloodshed that followed the Arab Spring. In Iraq, many yearn for the stability brought about by [Saddam Hussein’s] iron fist.”
Editions of Hitler’s notorious autobiography Mein Kampf can be found in various Middle East bookstores, reveals Nuohof.
“I first cottoned on to that fact when I stumbled upon an edition of Adolf Hitler’s infamous autobiography Mein Kampf in a bookshop in Dubai,” he explained. “At that stage, it was impossible to buy newly printed editions of the book in Germany, since the state held the publishing rights and simply refused to print it. (With the expiration of these rights, things have since changed, and a heavily edited version can now be purchased.)”
“But it was not until after I had left the expat-heavy, apolitical bubble of the [United Arab Emirates] that I truly realized how pronounced the reverence for the erstwhile German leader in the region is,” he adds. “I have yet to speak to anyone in the Middle East who thinks badly of the genocidal Führer, who is responsible for the extermination of six million Jews and a World War that caused the death of twenty-million Russians alone.”
Given that the founding of Israel has been hard to swallow by the country’s Middle East neighbors, antisemitism also seems to be a factor in Hitler’s favorability ratings in the region.
“Yet even the pro-Israel Kurds are prone to Hitlerism, and copies of Mein Kampf are not difficult to get hold of in Erbil and Sulimaniyah,” notes Nuohof.
He adds, “It seems that much is down to a knowledge deficit. Hitler is perceived as a strong and resolute leader in the Middle East, but are people aware of human and material costs of the Second World War?”
Germany alone suffered nearly seven million war fatalities as its cities were annihilated, and the country lost a third of its territory after the unconditional surrender of its once fabled military.
“Hardly a sign of success,” adds the op-ed article. “To reject the State of Israel is one thing, but would anyone who has studied the gruesome, industrialized killing of millions of human beings during the Holocaust still look at Hitler in admiration?”
Intolerance is the enemy of peaceful coexistence, a phrase that is as true now as it was during the Third Rich, notes the author.
“At present, Muslims are murdering each other over minor divergences in their beliefs, while Christians and Muslims may never see eye to eye again in the region,” writes Neuhof. “ISIS’s twisted hatred of anyone who isn’t tailor made for its world view closely resembles the Nazis’ extremist totalitarianism.”
In January, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who is pushing for expanded executive powers, cited Hitler’s Germany as an example of an effective presidential system.
Also in January, an official from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party reportedly alleged that Hitler was not morally corrupt, he was daring.
“For Middle East to prosper, it needs to be at peace. For that to be possible, people need to overcome their prejudices and accept their differences. And that, to put it mildly, is not what Herr Hitler was known for,” concludes the editorial.
“Mein Rant about the widespread adulation of Adolf Hitler in the Middle East,” tweeted Neuhof in a post advertising his op-ed.