Ahmed Huber: From Swiss Protestant to Islamic Activist

In 1982, Huber wrote an essay entitled "The Unknown Islam," in which he identified the three principal threats to Islam as being Zionism, Marxism, and the spread of the American way of life.

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Ahmed Huber at his home in 2002, photographed after being placed on the UN terror list. [ Photo: Alessandro Della Valle / Keystone ]

Albert Friedrich Armand Huber was born in the Canton of Fribourg, Switzerland, in 1927 into a Protestant family. He joined the liberal Social Democratic Party of Switzerland in 1952 and remained a member until 1994, when he was expelled for his right-wing political beliefs. Throughout his life, he worked as a journalist for various Swiss news services until 1989, when he lost his position as a result of advocating Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa against Salman Rushdie.

According to the long discussion I had with this charismatic man in June 1988 in Bern, he recalled to me how he converted to Islam, bearing witness to this testimony he had to say about this great spiritual metamorphosis that in 1959, while the Algerian War was at its peak, the party asked Huber to hide some Algerians at his home, who were charged with transporting weapons through Switzerland to be delivered to the Mujahideen fighting against French colonialism in the Algerian War. During the time they stayed with Huber, they discussed Islam, and Huber, who had never taken his Protestant background seriously, was very impressed by their beliefs, above all by the highly impressive confidence and rhetoric of the youngest Algerian man who was his guest while the two others were quite indifferent to this issue.

Such a sudden encounter changed the behaviour of this great man who continued to study as well as contemplate Islam until 1962 (the year of Algeria’s independence), when he finally became a Muslim by reciting the “shahada” or the testimony at a Swiss Islamic centre. As a result of this event, he was then invited to visit Egypt, where he was told that the Swiss Islamic centre was hostile to then-President Nasser and that he should again recite the shahada at the Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo, which he did. It was at this time that he adopted the name Ahmed Huber.

Huber was able to meet with President Nasser during his time in Egypt. It was through his talks with Nasser, who spoke positively about German National Socialism, that Huber first began to reconsider his beliefs about Nazism and Hitler. Upon his return to Switzerland, he met a young secretary at the Egyptian embassy whom he married in 1963, and with whom he fathered two children.

Throughout the remainder of the 1960s, Huber became increasingly sympathetic to Arab nationalism. His views were strongly influenced by his meeting in 1965 with Hadj Amin Husseini, the former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem who had made efforts to win support for the Third Reich among Muslims.

Huber did not give up his associations with the Swiss left, however. In the late 1960s, he worked within a group known as the “Bern Nonconformists,” which was a Swiss New Left organisation. He used their leftist rhetoric to advocate anti-American and anti-Israeli positions. Given Huber’s actual beliefs, this activity is an example of entryism.

Huber remained an Arab nationalist until the great event of the Islamic Iranian Revolution in 1979. Huber was very interested in the idea of an Islamic government, and he began to study the writings of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Huber visited Iran in 1983, during which he spoke before the Iranian Parliament. He was so impressed by this revolution and took it as a model which could be an inspiration to all Muslim nations.

Beginning in the 1980s, Huber attended many Islamic conferences and meetings of the far right around the world, including in Iran, Lebanon, the United States, France, Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. At these meetings, he would promote the idea of greater cooperation between Muslims and the right. Huber particularly advocated the school of thought known as the European New Right, which he believed provided the best basis for such an alliance. Despite these activities, nothing concrete is known to have come of them.

In his revelations, Huber said that what attracted him to Islam was its anti-theological basis, as Almighty Allah is beyond all categories of reason. He liked the fact that Islam describes a direct relationship between Allah and the individual, rather than it being mediated by a church, priest, or other authority. He also said that the Muslim belief in the unity of religion, politics, and society was another aspect with which he agreed.

In 1982, Huber wrote an essay entitled “The Unknown Islam,” in which he identified the three principal threats to Islam as being Zionism, Marxism, and the spread of the American way of life. Despite his Nazi sympathies, Huber always denied being an anti-Semite, claiming that he was only opposed to Zionism. He frequently professed his belief in the importance of Holocaust denial and supported several deniers throughout his life. He also believed that anti-Zionism and anti-Americanism were merging due to the strength of Zionist power in the US.

Huber also differed from most European right-wing extremists in that he welcomed immigration into Europe from Muslim countries. Although he believed that the refusal of Muslim immigrants to integrate into European society was initially harmful to Europe, he believed that younger Muslims were producing a new form of “European Islam,” which was a synthesis of the two cultures, and that this could be beneficial for both Europeans and Muslims.

Huber died at his home in Muri bei Bern in 2008.

Paying a tribute to this great man on the occasion of the fourth anniversary of his passing is just a modest contribution for a scholar I had both the honour and privilege to know for the first time in Bern, Switzerland, in June 1988.

For that, the great intellectual and outspoken Ahmed certainly belongs to the higher class of Allah’s servants who have attained the best of both worlds: “We gave him his reward in this world, and in the world to come he shall be among the Righteous.” Holy Quran 29:27.

Views are personal

S. Mohammed Bokreta

S. Mohammed Bokreta is a Freelance Writer and Cultural Consultant based in Algiers, Algeria. Specializing in Islamic values, political issues, historical events, and tourism topics, his work has been featured in international newspapers and magazines for over 36 years. Fluent in Arabic, French, and English, Bokreta also translates significant Islamic manuscripts. With a background as a Bank and Shipping Manager, his extensive experience and communication skills aim to educate and inspire future generations.

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