Is Nazism resurgent in Egypt? The spectacle of Egyptian demonstrators openly displaying swastikas and shouting 'the gas chambers are ready' in front of the Israeli embassy in Cairo last week, as one tore down the Israeli flag, certainly sends shivers down one's spine.
Of course similar spine-chilling cries are uttered at soccer stadia in Holland. (The equivalent in Egyptian soccer is the Cairo team Ahly. Their supporters, who call themselves the Ahlawi Nazis, unfurl a long swastika bearing-banner.)
So what makes Nazism in Egypt more threatening?
Egypt sheltered thousands of Nazi war criminals and collaborators after the Second World War, including the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini. King Farouk employed the Germans to re-organise his army. Nasser used their expertise in anti-Jewish propaganda. Many converted to Islam, married local girls and melted into the general population. Some of them were big fish, like the so-called Butcher of Mauthhausen, Aribert Heim. The Algerian author Boualem Sansal bumped into one such Nazi, who became a sheikh and the headman of his village. The man was the inspiration for Sansal's novel An unfinished business. Earlier this year, in the full flush of the Arab Spring, Egyptian activists announced the formation of a new Nazi party.