September 6, 2017 Special Dispatch No. 7080

Egyptian Culture Minister: The Jihadi Notion Of 'Takfir' Is Similar To Hitler's Nazi Ideas

September 6, 2017
Egypt | Special Dispatch No. 7080

In his column in the Egyptian daily Al-Masri Al-Yawm, Egyptian Culture Minister Helmy Al-Namnam responded to the violent events that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia on Saturday, August 12, 2017, during which James Fields, a 20-year-old said to idolize Hitler and have "white supremacist views",[1] rammed his car into counter demonstrators. Al-Namnam drew a connection between Nazi ideology and the ideology of extremist Islam, writing that the entire global village within which we reside today suffers from terrorism and from racist ideas – whether those of the jihadists who accuse others of heresy, or those of the supporters of Nazism – and therefore a unified international stand should be adopted  to counter these ideas.

The following are excerpts from his column: [2]

Egyptian Culture Minister Helmy Al-Namnam (Image: Al-Yawm Al-Sabi', Egypt, October 3, 2015).

"On Saturday [August 12, 2017] violent events of a racist character took place in Virginia, U.S., during which there were deaths and injuries and a state of emergency was [even] declared in the state. Over the past year, similar events have taken place targeting blacks, [whereas] this time cries against Muslims and Jews were repeatedly voiced. There was also a car ramming attack carried out by a young man, who following investigation was revealed to be... an admirer of the Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. This young man, the product of American society, did not suffer from economic difficulty or from any problem [related to] education or culture, and it is likely that all paths were open to him. But he was exposed to a personality and to obsolete ideas – the ideas of Nazism and racism, which many in the world believed were gone forever, and was persuaded by them.

"The principles and ideas of Nazism and ethnic racism, or the supremacy of the white race above other races, are similar to the ideas of takfir [accusing others of heresy] and hakimiyya [Allah's sovereignty] in our societies, which in our generation were consolidated by Sayyid Qutb.[3] Abominable ideas [of this sort are hidden] deep inside books, until, at a certain point in history, some people who are in deep distress, be it emotional or intellectual, emerge and diligently [study these texts], air them out and present them to society – or [more precisely] to certain sectors – as the cure for all that ails them, and the result is fire and blood.

"Since we live in a world that has in practice become a small village, it is no longer possible for evil spirits to remain imprisoned in one specific country or in one geographical area. There is no longer [a separation between] east and west or north and south. The Muslim Brotherhood movement, and the ideas and terrorists it [spawned], such as Islamic State [ISIS] and others, wander the world and perpetrate terror attacks in Paris, London, Luxembourg, and in more and more places, exactly as they do in Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Rafah in Sinai. The difference [between the different parts of the world] is only in the number of terror attacks. Hitler's ideas likewise move from place to place. Anyone who follows his book, Mein Kampf, discovers that it is published in many countries and in many languages... and we see the results in violent acts and in racist demonstrations.

"If Hitler's ideas contain straightforward racism, then the ideas embodied in takfir are another sort of racism of the most repulsive kind, which allows these people to behave as if they have a monopoly over the truth and the right to expropriate the faith from people they don't like. The result of this takfir is the killing and destruction of whoever disagrees with them, be it an individual or an ethnic group, and sometimes [even] a society or an entire country.

"The crisis has become universal and touches all of mankind, so that not a single society is protected from the wind of racism that blows upon it and takes it by the throat. Thus, we find young, thoroughly European men and women joining ISIS, the most vicious terror organization to date. That is why it would be a mistake for the members of any society to believe that the crisis touches only them, or that the educational, economic, and cultural failure is theirs alone – since every society has its crises and its concerns. Some of these crises have reached the level of racism and takfir, and have eventually [yielded] the violence and terror that follow from [racism and takfir].

"It is true that, in every country, the problem has its own characteristics, and must be dealt with in accordance with the situation and the state of each country and each society. However, the global nature and the spread of these ideas, and of the violent actions and the terrorism in the world, oblige us to take a stand and [formulate an] international approach to confront them, alongside the local and regional approaches. If we do not, the world will wake up one day and find that the [idea of] takfir has surrounded us all, and that racism is choking everyone."


[1] Fields, who traveled to Virginia from Ohio, had espoused extremist ideals at least since high school, according to his history teacher Derek Weimer. Weimer said he taught Fields during his junior and senior years at Randall K. Cooper High School in Kentucky. "It was obvious that he had this fascination with Nazism and a big idolatry of Adolf Hitler," the teacher said. "He had white supremacist views. He really believed in that stuff.", August 14, 2017.

[2] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), August 16, 2017.

[3] Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966), an Egyptian author, educator, Islamic theorist, and poet, was a leading figure in the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt whose writings influenced the development of radical Islam.

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