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Islam as a ‘Giant Progressive Leap’—Religious Critiques of Fascism and National Socialism,

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The assumption of a historical collusion between Arab-Muslim public opinion and Fascism and Nazism is widespread. This paper questions this assumption by reconstructing various Arab-Muslim reactions in the Eastern Mediterranean that responded to the rise and establishment of Fascism and Nazism. Scrutinizing the discussions about key elements of Fascist and National Socialist ideologies, the diverse and often explicitly critical stances expressed in journals, books and pamphlets of the 1930s and 1940s will be worked out. Religious arguments were not limited to religious circles, however. Even in liberal and left-leaning circles Islam was invoked in attempts to challenge echoes of authoritarian and radical nationalist thought among Arab audiences. For these voices, Islamic traditions were seen as shielding local political culture against the influences of National Socialist and Fascist propaganda.


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