Amin al-Husseini  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Mohammed Amin al-Husseini (1897 – 4 July 1974) was a Palestinian Arab nationalist and Muslim leader in Mandatory Palestine.

Al-Husseini was the scion of a family of Jerusalemite notables, who trace their origins to the eponymous grandson of Muhammad. After receiving an education in Islamic, Ottoman, and Catholic schools, he went on to serve in the Ottoman army in World War I. At war's end he stationed himself in Damascus as a supporter of the Arab Kingdom of Syria. Following the Franco-Syrian War and the collapse of Arab Hashemite rule in Damascus, his early position on pan-Arabism shifted to a form of local nationalism for Palestinian Arabs and he moved back to Jerusalem. From as early as 1920 he actively opposed Zionism, and was implicated as a leader of the 1920 Nebi Musa riots. Al-Husseini was sentenced to ten years' imprisonment for incitement but was pardoned by the British. In 1921 the British High Commissioner appointed him Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, a position he used to promote Islam while rallying a non-confessional Arab nationalism against Zionism. During the period 1921-36 he was considered an important ally by the British Mandatory authorities.

His opposition to the British peaked during the 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine. In 1937, evading an arrest warrant, he fled Palestine and took refuge successively in the French Mandate of Lebanon and the Kingdom of Iraq, until he established himself in Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. During World War II he collaborated with both Italy and Germany by making propagandistic radio broadcasts and by helping the Nazis recruit Bosnian Muslims for the Waffen-SS (on the ground that they shared four principles: family, order, the leader and faith). Also, as he told the recruits, Germany had not colonized any Arab country while Russia and England had. On meeting Adolf Hitler he requested backing for Arab independence and support in opposing the establishment in Palestine of a Jewish national home. At the end of the war he came under French protection, and then sought refuge in Cairo to avoid prosecution for war crimes.

In the lead-up to the 1948 Palestine war, Husseini opposed both the 1947 UN Partition Plan and King Abdullah's designs to annex the Arab part of British Mandatory Palestine to Jordan, and, failing to gain command of the 'Arab rescue army' (jaysh al-inqadh al-'arabi) formed under the aegis of the Arab League, formed his own militia, al-jihad al-muqaddas. In September 1948 he participated in the establishment of an All-Palestine Government. Seated in Egyptian-ruled Gaza, this government won limited recognition by Arab states but was eventually dissolved by Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1959. After the war and subsequent Palestinian exodus, his claims to leadership were wholly discredited and he was eventually sidelined by the Palestine Liberation Organization, losing most of his residual political influence. He died in Beirut, Lebanon in July 1974.

Husseini was and remains a highly controversial figure. Historians dispute whether his fierce opposition to Zionism was grounded in nationalism or antisemitism or a combination of both. Opponents of Palestinian nationalism have used Husseini's wartime residence and propaganda activities in Nazi Germany to associate the Palestinian national movement with European-style anti-Semitism. While his ideological influence on post-war Palestinian nationalism is minimal, al-Husayni's legacy is of interest to modern scholars of Political Islam for his role in introducing radical antisemitism into Islamic fundamentalism.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Amin al-Husseini" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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