Ali Abdel Aal, Egypt’s parliamentary speaker, triggered an outcry after he used Adolph Hitler as a model for infrastructure leadership. Abdel Aal explained “Hitler had his mistakes, but what allowed him to expand eastward and westward was that he created a strong infrastructure.” Well, that and a combination of war crimes, genocide, and wanton destruction. Most people do not start with the good roads on that list of notable elements of Nazi rule.
Abdel Aal insisted that his words were taken “out of context” but, unless the preceding line was “I am about to say something really moronic and grotesque to show children how not to speak”, I don’t think context will be much of a defense here. It is akin to saying Mussolini “made some mistakes” but “kept the trains running on time.”
It was a telling reference in a country that has been condemned for its repression and denial of basic rights. He was praising President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi for his effort to “build a modern Egyptian state.”
Abdel Aal tried to explain why “harsh” measures are a sign of greatness: “Building nations in times of transition requires harsh measures… because it is during these times that institutions are built and infrastructure is laid down.”
Most people would not view Hitler as good company but most would not try to sell a country on authoritarian measures as a path to “greatness.”