A member of Egypt’s tiny Nazi Party had his invitation to speak at a Georgetown University conference rescinded, after his ties with the party became known.
The Washington school’s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, or ACMCU, had asked Ramy Jan to speak at a December 5 event, “Egypt & the struggle for democracy,” a full-day conference examining the current state of Egyptian democracy, the role of youth movements, and the work of pro-democracy groups in the country. Egyptian and American academics, former Egyptian politicians, and other experts were also scheduled to appear.
Representative Keith Ellison, the first Muslim in Congress, was set to give the keynote address.
But it seems the center did not perform sufficiently diligent research on all of its panelists.
Jan, a Coptic Christian Muslim Brotherhood member, is also active in Egypt’s Nazi party.
A 2011 video translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute shows the young founders of the party, including Jan, discussing their ideology.
“We have adopted the positive aspects of the Nazi Party, not the negative,” offered Sayyed Gamal. “We will not carry out holocausts against the Jews, and we will not fight them.”
Another member professed respect for Judaism, but hostility toward “the Zionist entity.”
“The Egyptian citizen has been greatly humiliated,” explained party member Amr Fouad. “The supremacy of the Egyptian race. That’s our No. 1 goal.”
“The Egyptian race should rule first, and then the Arab race.”
“We do not recognize the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel,” said Jan.
Jan’s facebook page included multiple photos of Adolf Hitler.
On Tuesday, Egypt expert Samuel Tadros of the Hudson Institute revealed Jan’s affiliations.
Upon learning about Jan’s background, ACMCU disinvited Jan and removed his name from conference materials.
“Rami Jan is absolutely not coming to speak at Georgetown University at any point,” emphasized Christine Kidwell, ACMCU’s associate director, in an email to The Times of Israel. “No one involved in the creation of this event had any idea whatsoever about Rami’s questionable affiliations. He is no longer invited to speak at Georgetown and we are amending our conference speakers and schedule.”
“This was new to us that he had a background like that, and as soon as it came to our attention he was immediately disinvited,” the center’s director, John Esposito, told The New York Times. “We had no idea that there was this issue out there.”
But some Egyptian activists are not so easily mollified.
“I think he is an empty person who is working so hard to become famous,” Mina Rizkalla, a Coptic Christian activist, told The Times of Israel. “After the military coup he created this group, ‘Christians against military coup’ just to grab the attention of the media to him being a Coptic and [Muslim Brotherhood].”
“I am not surprised that Georgetown invited him,” Rizkalla continued. “This Saudi center used to host Muslim Brotherhood leaders for a long time. So I guess we need to question the intentions of this center.”
“The Nazi Party in Egypt is not a real thing — this seems to be a small group of relatively young Egyptians who decided to make this YouTube video claiming to be such a party,” explained Egypt scholar Eric Trager of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “Similarly, there are very, very few pro-Brotherhood Christians — this is not a mainstream position at all, and the vast majority of Christians, as well as the Coptic pope himself, backed Morsi’s removal this summer.”
Trager also saw Georgetown’s invitation to Jan, even without the Nazi angle, as curious.
“For some reason, Georgetown wanted to make sure that its conference emphasized a pro-Morsi viewpoint, including ensuring that the token Christian speaker was also pro-Morsi. And when you play these kinds of crude identity politics games, you end up with people who are not only entirely unrepresentative, but politically extreme in all sorts of ways. “
Trager said it was “highly unlikely” that Georgetown knew about Jan’s Nazi sympathies.
“It has been a public relations nightmare that Georgetown brought upon itself by hosting a one-sided conference and not even permitting a more representative Christian view to be presented.”
Former Obama adviser Dalia Mogahed, also slated to speak, tweeted that the organizers did not know about Jan’s background.
— Dalia Mogahed (@DMogahed) November 19, 2013
According to the conference invitation page, the event has been postponed until January 20, 2014, because of difficulties securing visas for the participants.
Jan’s name is no longer featured on the conference poster.
Still, some alumni were disappointed with their alma mater.
“I feel a major university should do a better job of performing due diligence of those they choose to engage with and invite,” said one alumna, who asked that her name not be used.