Arab anti-fascism in World War II

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Ken Burch
Arab anti-fascism in World War II

http://www.tikkun.org/article.php/may_jun_09_shakir

The first paragraphs of the article are about the controvery over distribution of the "Obsession" video during last fall's U.S. elections.  But it then goes into a great capsule history of what Palestinians and other Arabs did to oppose Hitler and protect Jews during the war.

Here's a few excerps:

 

."...The shameless allegation that Islam is the new fascism would be bad enough were it presented in isolation. However, it is coupled
with allegations that Muslims supported Hitler and the Nazis during World War II.

Such allegations are a foul misrepresentation of the historical record and serve to dishonor the memory of all of the courageous Muslims who selflessly fought and died in defense of the European democracies, even though many of their own lands were still suffering under the yoke of European colonization.

"At the heart of these baseless and base allegations is the fact that the Palestinian Mufti of Jerusalem, Al-Hajj Amin al-Husayni, had close ties to the German leader Adolf Hitler, and even spent part of the war in Berlin."

"While this much is true, al-Husayni's sentiments were not those of the overwhelming majority of the Palestinians, to say nothing of the rest of the world's Muslims. To use al-Husayni's ties to Hitler as a means to defame and discredit Islam and Muslims as fascists is misleading and has to be challenged."

"In fact, there were several Palestinian brigades and tens of thousands of Palestinians in the British Army who actively fought the spread of fascism."

"The existence of these Palestinian brigades was more indicative of the mood of the Arab and Muslim masses than al-Husayni's misguided actions."

"Therefore, when al-Husayni issued his call for a Muslim jihad against the allied forces his plea was largely ignored. The fascist jihad never materialized. The reason for that is simple. It had no significant support from the masses of Muslims..."

Ken Burch

""The Palestinian Muslims were not alone in terms of their participation in the anti-fascist effort.

Hundreds of thousands of North and West African Muslims assisted in the liberation of France from the German occupation and the French Vichy government.

As many as half of the free French forces that landed in southern France in 1944 were Africans, the overwhelming majority of them Muslims.

Among their ranks was a group referred to as Senegal's Secret Soldiers, a group of Senegalese Muslims who played a significant role in the liberation of France from Nazi occupation."

II."One of this country's staunchest Muslim allies in the struggle against the fascist menace was the Moroccan king, Muhammad V.

He not only worked strenuously to insure that Moroccans supported neither the French Vichy government nor the Nazi effort in North Africa, but he also courageously supported Moroccan Jews during the war years, saving them from extermination at the hands of the Vichy regime."

"Muhammad V's efforts were so heroic in this latter regard that the Moroccan Jewish community has initiated an effort to have him become the first Arab to receive Yad Vashem's "Righteous Among the Nations" award."

Ken Burch

"Perhaps the greatest testimony to the Muslims who actively opposed fascism is the work of the Paris Mosque in protecting Jewish children from the Nazis, who were sending French Jews-men, women, and children-to perish in the death camps of Eastern Europe.

The mosque itself was built by the French government in appreciation of the 500,000 Muslims who had fought for France during World War I, with 100,000 losing their lives in the trenches.

It is estimated that the mosque helped to save over 1,700 Jewish children, by providing them with shelter, transit, and Muslim names. A pamphlet that circulated among Algerian Muslims in Paris at the onset of the Nazis' campaign against the Jews in France stated:"

"Yesterday at dawn, the Jews of Paris were arrested.

The old, the women, and the children.

In exile like ourselves, workers like ourselves.

They are our brothers.

Their children are like our own children.

The one who encounters one of his children must give that child shelter and protection for as long as misfortune-or sorrow-lasts.

Oh, man of my country, your heart is generous."