Total Pageviews

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Egyptian Nazi Will No Longer Participate at Georgetown Conference

Video of Ramy Jan, a founder of the Egyptian Nazi Party, and other party members describing their belief in Arab racial supremacy. Mr. Jan was invited to speak at a conference on Egypt’s future at Georgetown University.

Georgetown University has come under fire for inviting a founder of the Egyptian Nazi Party to a conference planned for December on the future of Egypt, which will feature a keynote speech by Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the sole Muslim member of the United States Congress, and Dalia Mogahed, a former Obama adviser.

The speaker, Ramy Jan, was advertised as a representative of Christians Against the Coup, a little-known group opposed to Egypt’s military rulers. But in the months after the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, Mr. Jan appeared on Egyptian television as a co-founder of the country’s nascent Nazi Party, a group with no real influence on Egyptian politics but with some startling ideas. As one member, Muhi al-Din al-Gamal, put it in the television interview, “Our political goal is to make the Arab race, or Arabic speakers, the best race.”

On Tuesday, John Esposito, the director of Georgetown’s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, listed on the university website as the host of the conference, said that Mr. Jan would no longer be involved in the event. He said the center was alerted to Mr. Jan’s ties with the Nazi party after Eric Trager, an analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, raised the issue in a series of posts to Twitter.

“This was new to us that he had a background like that and as soon as it came to our attention he was immediately disinvited,” Mr. Esposito said. “We had no idea that there was this issue out there.”

Dalia Mogahed, a former adviser to President Obama in the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, said on Twitter that she believed the organizers of the conference did not know about Mr. Jan’s ties with the Nazi party.

The decision to uninvite Mr. Jan comes amid criticism from some Washington foreign policy experts, as well as some Egyptian activists, that the university in Washington was inviting him out of a desire to amplify voices critical of the military overthrow of former President Mohamed Morsi, an Islamist, in July.

Emad Shahin, a professor at the University of Notre Dame who is scheduled to participate in the December conference, said he was “shocked” to learn that a group billing itself as the Egyptian Nazi Party even existed.

“That there is a group or a party called the Egyptian Nazi Party is not just a surprise to me, it would be a surprise to most Egyptian people,” he said. “I doubt they are any kind of party with any kind of structure at all.”

In a video posted on YouTube of a September 2011 interview on Dream One, an Egyptian satellite television station, Mr. Jan and other young members of the Egyptian Nazi Party appeared outspoken about their views. The video was translated and subtitled by the Middle East Media Research Institute, or Memri, an Arabic media watchdog founded by a former Israeli intelligence officer.

The group appears to be almost entirely young men sweating through their T-shirts and fidgeting nervously in front of the camera. They said their goal was to found a party that would redress the “humiliation” of the Egyptian people and restore them to their rightful position of “supremacy,” in the words of ‘Amr Fouad, one member of the group.

“All we want to take from Nazism is the respect, that’s it,” Mr. Fouad said. “We want to have our supremacy over the world.”

Mr. Jan, the speaker invited to Georgetown, used that interview to espouse a number of nationalist Egyptian views, although he kept to himself any beliefs he may hold about Egyptian or Arab racial supremacy. His segment of the interview appeared to have been edited into a laundry list of policy positions, as he wiped sweat off his brow with a crumpled napkin.

“Several businessmen want to finance us and we have to choose between them,” he said in one snippet. “We do not recognize the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. We want to build an Egyptian nuclear reactor, a reactor that will be built by Egyptians and have Egyptian components. All Egyptians will unite around this national project.”

The young men tried to cast themselves as newer, friendlier Nazis, despite the shock displayed by the interviewer, who at one point asked why Egypt would import an ideology that had been “vomited up” by the rest of the world.

One man, Sayyed Gamal, reassured viewers that the group had no plans to “carry out a Holocaust against the Jews,” while another, Ahmed Sayyed, told the interviewer: “Sir, we do not want a full-fledged Nazi party. All we want is a statement that our country’s race will rule.”

There is only one thing, according to Mr. Sayyed, that the Egyptian Nazi Party has adopted from its German namesake.

“We have nothing to do with Hitler,” he said. “The one and only thing we have adopted from Nazism is racial supremacy. That’s it.”