Most of those who are worried about the future path of Egypt in the wake of the fall of Hosni Mubarak have focused on the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist political party that commands the allegiance of a growing number of Egyptians. But as much as the West is right to fear the Brotherhood, it turns out their non-religious and presumably liberal rivals are not exactly a bargain either. The Washington Times reports the vice chairman of Egypt’s top secular political party believes the Holocaust is a lie and the 9/11 attacks were “made in the USA.”
Ahmed Ezz El-Arab, a leader of the Wafd Party, spoke to Ben Birnbaum of the Washington Times last week and told him, “The Holocaust is a lie.” He went to dismiss accounts of “gas chambers” as “fanciful stories” and said the Diary of Anne Frank is “a fake.”
El-Arab made the remarks during an interview in Budapest where he was attending the Conference on Democracy and Human Rights. The Wafd is reputed to be the second largest party in Egypt after the Muslim Brotherhood.
Despite these hateful views, the Egyptian said his party was not in favor of war against Israel and denounced Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He called Ahmadinejad a “hateful character” but said the Iranian, who shares El-Arab’s belief in Holocaust denial, was correct in that one respect.
What are we to make of the fact such a person is the “democrat” whose party’s success we should presumably support against the Brotherhood?
While democracy is, in principle, something we should desire for all peoples, optimism about the Arab Spring must be tempered by a dose of reality. Even under Mubarak, who maintained the peace treaty with Israel, Jew-hatred was not only tolerated but also encouraged so as to give an outlet for public resentment that might otherwise have been directed against the government. It is therefore little wonder after generations of such views being promulgated in both mosques and popular culture, an Egyptian “democrat” would be both a Holocaust-denier and a 9/11 truther.
Were Egypt’s political system to ever evolve into one where the rule of law and public accountability became engrained in the culture of that country, there is a chance hate might gradually fade away. But with the army still ruling Egypt with an iron fist, such notions are unrealistic. So long as even the democrats in that country are a product of a culture of hate, there is little chance genuine democracy or peace will be the result of any of the changes there.