Middle East

Egypt's speaker praises Hitler to justify government spending

Egypt's speaker Ali Abdel Aal addressing parliament in December 2017 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ali Abdel Aal later said his remarks were "taken out of context"

Egypt's parliamentary speaker has sparked outrage online after praising Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler's infrastructure projects.

Ali Abdel Aal made the comments while defending Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi development plans.

"Hitler had his mistakes, but what allowed him to expand eastward and westward was that he created a strong infrastructure," the speaker said.

Mr Abdel Aal has since said his words were taken "out of context".

Hundreds of people have been detained in recent weeks for protesting against alleged government and military corruption in Egypt linked to building projects.

The country has pursued a policy of economic austerity in recent years and more than 30% of the population is living in poverty.

The speaker reportedly asked parliamentarians to observe a minute of silence to back the president's efforts to "build a modern Egyptian state", the website Middle East Eye reports.

It was during this speech that he praised "the infrastructure that Germany has constructed, which is a model for the whole world".

"Building nations in times of transition requires harsh measures... because it is during these times that institutions are built and infrastructure is laid down."

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Media captionWatch how one man's videos have stirred rare protests in Egypt

The remarks were reported by pro-government media outlets.

Adolf Hitler led Nazi Germany between 1933 and 1945, orchestrating the systematic murder of as many as 11 million people - six million of whom were killed because they were Jewish.

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Opponents quickly condemned the comments online, saying they compared President Sisi to Hitler and could ruin Egypt's standing in the world.

Mr Abdel Aal later told Egypt Today that Hitler "committed a lot of crimes which can never be praised".

"No country can develop without a strong infrastructure, and this is the only thing I was referring to in my statements," he was quoted as saying.

Under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi - who took power in 2013 as the leader of a military coup - there has been a wide-ranging crackdown on dissent, and protests are very rare.

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Media captionThe BBC's Sally Nabil says protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square were undaunted

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