Friday, May 04, 2007

Mein Best Seller

Guess who's become a best selling author in the Muslim world?

No fair peeking at the picture of Jimmy Carter, but I suppose he's there for the same reason.

OK, go ahead and peek. Front row, top right.

Yes, that's the late German tyrant Adolf Hitler glaring from the window of a Jordanian bookstore. Der Führer's 1925 polemic Mein Kampf is a bestseller in the Muslim Middle East, ranging from secular, ostensibly pro-Israeli Turkey to Cairo, Egypt to Palestinian lands ostensibly controlled by Israel - it seems Muhammad's fan club can't get enough of Adolf Hitler's biography and manifesto. Call be a cynic, but I don't think the popularity of the book in Muslim majority nations is due to, say, Hitler's opinions on the lessons Germany learned after the first world war, or the consequences of the beer hall putsch.

Ironically, the presence of Mein Kampf in the Arab world is occasionally used as "proof" of a generally non-existent freedom of speech and press in countries where no such thing exists: "See? This book which is banned in Germany and France is legal in our country!" Considering the vast number of fairly innocuous books banned in many Muslim countries, the legality and popularity of Mein Kampf speaks more to the state sanction and promotion of antisemitism and demonization of Israel than it does to a generally non-existent culture of free thought and speech in the Muslim world.

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