Cairo (dpa) – Egypt’s parliamentary head, Ali Abdul Aal, denied on Wednesday that he had praised Adolf Hitler when he compared incumbent President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi’s controversial focus on infrastructure to that of the Nazi leader.
Abdul Aal, a known backer of al-Sissi, on Tuesday defended the Egyptian leader’s interest in building a string of grandiose projects, including a new capital and a network of roads, despite the country’s economic woes.
“No country can progress without infrastructure. Hitler had his mistakes. [But] what allowed him to expand eastward and westward was the presence of infrastructure, which continues to be the locomotive that has made Germany a top-level country,” the top lawmaker had told parliament, according to private Egyptian newspaper al-Shorouk.
On Wednesday, Abdul Aal said his remarks had been misinterpreted.
“No person, even with a smattering of education, will praise this personality who committed crimes and sins,” he told the legislature, referring to Hitler. “The praise was meant for German people and infrastructure,” he added, according to the online edition of state-run newspaper al-Ahram.
Abdul Aal’s remarks were made after rare protests last month in some parts of Egypt against al-Sissi, who has been in office since 2014.
The demonstrations were in response to calls by self-exiled businessman Mohammed Ali, who has recently alleged corruption by al-Sissi and the military.
Al-Sissi, an ex-army chief, has dismissed the allegations as “sheer lies.”
The protests were followed by a massive crackdown on dissenters, according to rights advocates.
Egypt’s chief prosecutor said about 1,000 people were interrogated for participating in those protests.