The New York Times has published an editorial by Traiq Ramadan, the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood and a leader in the Global Muslim Brotherhood, in which he misleadingly asserts that his father opposed Nazism and fascism during the WW II era. The editorial begins:
OXFORD, ENGLAND — Even as the mass demonstrations began in Tunisia, who would have thought that Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali’s regime would have collapsed so quickly? Who could have predicted that Egypt would soon witness such unprecedented popular protest? A barrier has fallen. Nothing will be the same again. It is quite likely that other countries will follow the lead of Egypt, given its central and symbolic significance. But what will be the role of the Islamists after the collapse of the dictatorships? The Islamist presence has for decades justified the West’s acceptance of the worst dictatorships in the Arab world. And it was these very regimes that demonized their Islamist opponents, particularly Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, which historically represents that country’s first well-organized mass movement with the political influence to match. For more than 60 years, the Brotherhood has been illegal but tolerated. It has demonstrated a powerful capacity to mobilize the people in each relatively democratic election — for trade unions, professional associations, municipalities, parliament and so on — where it has been a participant. So, are the Muslim Brothers the rising power in Egypt, and, if so, what can we anticipate of such an organization? In the West, we have come to expect superficial analyses of political Islam in general and the Muslim Brotherhood in particular. However, not only is Islamism a mosaic of widely differing trends and factions, but its many different facets have emerged over time and in response to historical shifts.
Read the rest here.
Later in the editorial Ramadan says:
The writings from between 1930 and 1945 of Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Brotherhood, show that he opposed colonialism and strongly criticized the fascist governments in Germany and Italy.
However, University of Maryland scholar Jeffrey Herf has studied the Muslim Brotherhood during the time of Hassan El-Banna and found that, not unlike today, while Brotherhood was claiming to be democratic organization respecting the opinions and freedom of thought of others, the ideology of the organization was essentially no different from Nazism and fascism. As Herf explains:
After World War II, in the Middle East as well, no one, including the Muslim Brotherhood wanted to be identified with Fascism and Nazism, Yet the argument it presented against partisanship division and differentiation were essentially the same as the antidemocratic and anti liberal indictment made in Italy and Germany after World War I. The idea political parties were a source of national weakness in the face of foreign threats was a central aspect of the arguments made by Italian fascists and German National Socialists in their efforts to destroy democracy in the 1920s. The “reactionary modernists” in Germany argued that the truly modern form of government was a dictatorship that dispensed with local parties. Even the face of the defeat of fascism and Nazism, the Muslim Brotherhood echoed those sentiments.
Herf goes on to write :
These programmatic statements of the Muslim Brotherhood demonstrated again what had been obvious from the meetinggs of hearts and minds in Berlin that produced the broadcasts of Voice of Free Arabism and Berlin in Arabic; during and after WW II, Nazism and fascism found common ground with radical Islam. The collapse of fascist and Nazi ideology in postwar Europe was simply not in evidence in the program of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Tariq Ramadan is perhaps best described as an independent power center within the global Brotherhood with sufficient stature as the son of Said Ramadan, and the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood to challenge positions taken by important Brotherhood leaders. His statements and writings have been extensively analyzed and he has been accused by critics of promoting anti-Semitism and fundamentalism, albeit by subtle means. On the other hand, his supporters promote him as as example of an Islamic reformer who is in the forefront of developing a “Euro Islam.” Ramadan is currently professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Oxford’s Faculty of Theology and senior research fellow at St. Antony’s College (Oxford), Dohisha University (Kyoto, Japan) and at the Lokahi Foundation (London). Previous posts discussed his dismissal from his positions as an adviser on integration for the city of Rotterdam and from a Dutch University over his role as a talk show host on Iranian TV. A ban on Ramadan traveling to the US was lifted in 2010 and several posts have discussed his recent visits to the US where he appeared at various US Muslim Brotherhood venues including giving the keynote at a Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR)-Chicago annual banquet .