April 20, 2004

Arab Press on the Madrid bombings
Posted by McQ

MEMRI offers a compendium of quotes from various Arab press outlets concerning the Madrid bombings. They're interesting because we often are led to believe that little if any criticism of the Islamist extremist terrorism is apparent in the Arab press. It definitely exists. But there are also the 'excuse makers', which still seem to dominate. Here are some of the quotes. All emphasis is mine:

Adli Sadeq, the deputy to Palestinian Minister for Foreign Affairs Nabil Sha'ath, wrote in his daily column in the Palestinian Authority daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida: "An announcement attributed to the so-called Abu Hafs Al-Masri [Brigades] stated that the explosions were aimed at settling accounts with 'Crusader Spain,' and implicitly states that the killing of innocents in Palestine and Afghanistan permits the killing of innocents in Spain. Such talk has no connection either to Islam, or to politics, human ethics, or courage, because those who kill innocents in Palestine and Afghanistan do not kill them in the name of all train passengers… Islam forbids that anyone should be held responsible for the crime of another, and strongly forbids killing anyone, except justly. If it is Al-Qa'ida, and we hope that it is not, then our comment on it is that this is neither the quality of Islam nor its ethics, and we condemn it even more strongly than the Spanish themselves."

Fairly strong and direct and not something which could be construed as anything but a condemnation.

In the Jordanian daily Al-Rai, Jordanian Islamist activist Bassam Al-'Amoush wrote: "The destruction of the Twin Towers in New York cannot possibly be a service to Islam, a deed in the name of Islam, or Jihad for the sake of Allah… The explosions in Nairobi and Dar Al-Salaam cannot be seen as an Islamic act, as a way of propagating Islam [da'wa], as an act of Jihad, as beneficial, or [as an act] whose perpetrator is a Shahid [martyr].

"Anyone who calls the explosions in Riyadh Jihad for the sake of Allah is an ignoramus. Could any Muslim mind in the world possibly be able to recognize the criminal massacre in Madrid as Jihad and martyrdom?… The peoples of the world must know that Islam is a religion of love, peace, moderation, dialogue, and coexistence, that [Islam] does not seek bloodshed or the murder of women, children, and the elderly… [True Islam] is an Islam of freedom of thought, [as the Qur'anic verse states]: 'There is no coercion in religion.' Islam [is a religion of] coexistence…"

Of course many of the people of the world consider it other than a religion of "love, peace, moderation, dialogue and coexistance", but that's mainly because moderates have largely been silent and let it be hijacked by extremists. That's why its so important that moderates condemn it but DO something about it as well.

Columnist Ahmad Al-Rab'i wrote in the London Arabic-language daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat: "The question is not who carried out the terror operation in Spain, but how a group of human beings – no matter what its belief, religion, or political affiliation – thinks of killing 200 innocent people and wounding over 1,000. Have we gone back to the Stone Age?… What kind of new world is this, in which terror strikes the World Trade Center, Spain, Afghanistan, Algeria, Riyadh, and Bali, and kills innocents? How can the inhabitants of this planet feel safe about their children going to school? How will lovers walk freely in a public park? How will people be able to go to work when every bus, train, or plane is a target for mass killing? This is an operation against life… The entire civilized world – no matter what its ideology and belief – must declare a world war on terror as criminal behavior, against the ideology of terror, and against those who incite to it."

Amen to that. Again very forceful and clear. No dancing with vowels and adjectives. No one will take any other message from this than condemnation of the acts.

Of course there's always the "yeah, but" crowd. Here a Syrian "journalist" (I use the term advisedly since the paper is 'government owned') says that while terrorims is something to be condemned, perhaps its not just the terrorists at fault:

Columnist Muhammad Al-Khadhr wrote in the Syrian government daily Al-Ba'ath: "No matter what the identity of the perpetrators of the train crime in the Spanish capital of Madrid, the deed is worthy of political, moral, and legal condemnation. An attack on civilians is an abhorrent crime on all levels and in all societies and countries…" However, he added: "In September 2001, the U.S. launched a war on terror, and President Bush chose to divide the world into two axes – the axis of good and the axis of evil. Has the world become a safer place, as Washington declares every day? The answer does not demand much thought. It is enough to look at the daily newscasts to learn about the intensity of the tragedy and the pain suffered by the peoples, beginning in Iraq and the occupied Palestinian territories, and including the bereaved Spanish families… Therefore, in order to help the victims of terror in the world, there is no escape from a clear international effort in which all will participate, [in order to] advance the values of truth and justice and [in order] to implement the legitimate international resolutions that have not been implemented to date. Thus, the whole world will share in dealing with the most dangerous thing it faces in the third millennium."

One assumes the "international resolutions" this fellow is talking about are the UN resolutions against Israel (none of which, btw, is actionable). But then, after accusing Bush of dividing the world into two spheres, the Arab world, which made the first "us against them" division when speaking of Israel, seems a bit hypocritical, doesn't it?

An Iraqi journalist takes on appeasment by noting that France too has faced terrorist activities even though it opposed the war:

Iraqi columnist 'Aziz Al-Haj wrote in the liberal online newspaper (www.elaph.com): "As an Iraqi, I was saddened by the failure of the party and government of Jose Maria Aznar, who stood with dignity and courage alongside the Iraqi people when he took part in toppling the fascism of Saddam… What hurts is that the socialists hostile to America and the war on the Iraqi Ba'th regime succeeded in misleading some of the Spanish citizens, exploiting the terrible crime as a weapon in the elections against the Aznar government. They claimed that it is the Spanish participation in Iraq that is the reason for the terrorism of the Al-Qa'ida members, who are experts in crime and in mass-murdering civilians. But France, the most sharply opposed to the war in Iraq, has also become the target of attack by Islamist extremists and of their calls for Jihad against it – because it insisted on legislation [against the veil] in its public schools and was accused of war against Islam…

Essentially the terrorist message remains "mess with any aspect of Islam, and we reserve the right to kill you for it." Aziz goes on to say:

"The war on world terror must unite the nations of the world, the democratic countries, and the international bodies. This bestial cancer is a sudden danger with which humanity and civilization is coping. Any negligence or weakness in facing it encourages the beast of prey to kill more people and spill additional rivers of innocent blood. This is a conflict between progress and light – and darkness."

Which pretty well sums up the danger of appeasment and anything but a united international front when it comes to this sort of terrorism. Another Iraqi columnist, Abd Al-Khaliq Hussein, from the same paper wrote about the UN debating club and its propensity to talk a problem to death instead of acting:

"The excuse [of the Left] is that the war against Saddam was not legitimate because the decision was not made in the [U.N.] Security Council… A U.N. resolution is more important to them than annihilation by a hangman gripped by lust for murder and genocide. We thank Allah that there is a superpower like America that took upon itself the mission of saving the peoples, without caring about Security Council resolutions. Otherwise the peoples of the Balkans, Sierra Leone, Iraq, and East Timor would expect annihilation by hangmen gripped by lust for mass murder, such as Milosevic, Suharto, Saddam Hussein, and other hangmen…

Of course not all reaction is "positive" (surprise!).

In the Jordanian daily Al-Rai,columnist Tareq Masarawa wrote:"It is only natural that a people living like the Spanish people will stop the policy of lies and deception, and will set a clear border between war on terror and war on peoples; between the gangs of bin Laden and his fundamentalist perceptions, and the Palestinian and Iraqi peoples; between the defense of civilization and culture, and occupation, plunder, and murder…

"The Spanish Socialists and their young president constituted an example, for their country, for Europe, and for the entire world, of wise and brave policy, and they have restored to Europe its true face. We are certain that the man [i.e. Zapatero] will fight terror, but he will not serve the occupation of Iraq and the continuation of the occupation of Palestine. We are certain that he will be a good neighbor to the Arabs and Muslims of Morocco, because he believes that terror has no religion, no nation, and no race! We are certain that Spain's return to the fold of Europe will reinforce Germany's and France's moderate and determined policy…

"Terror is now coming to London and Rome, so the English and the Italians say. The punishment for the policy of lies will be similar. It is not logical that most [residents of England and Italy] oppose the wars while their politicians go to war [on pretexts] of lies, and it is not logical that [the aggressor] will not pay the price of his own aggression!"

Note that the dismissal of the atrocities as that of Islamic terrorists. That makes it easy to then focus on the so-called "lies and deceptions" of the US as "the problem". The victimization of the perpetrators ploy. And, of course, its a problem rooted in Palestine.

Also note the echoing of the Bin Laden message -- the "logic" of governments doing what the population opposses.

Then there are those who just deny reality:

In the Egyptian government daily Al-Ahram, columnist Salameh Ahmad Salameh wrote:"The horrific explosions that took place in Spain recently reopen the international terror portfolio, in order to prove that the American perception prevailing in the world in recent years – i.e. that terror has a single source and a single problem, the Al-Qa'ida organization, Islam, and the Muslims – was mistaken, misleading, and far from reality…

"Many violent operations and terror [operations] that took place in the U.S. and in Europe –the motives of which may have been social and political, from within the societies themselves – have been falsely attributed to Al-Qa'ida, or to some Arab immigrants and refugees so as to be rid of them and to hobble them. These [operations] have also become justification and excuses for [advancing] political and democratic reform in Arab and Muslim countries. This, while most European societies are more in need than ever of domestic reform and compromise with their separatist minorities…"

Of course when you control the media, you CAN deny reality. Maybe there is more than a single source, but to deny extreme Islam, regardless of its manifestation, isn't the "single source" is to indeed deny reality.

Then, of course, there are the usual "The Jews Did It" crowd, perpetrating the "big lie" about 9/11 (which still has a vigorous life in the Arab world):

Columnist Adnan Zayid Al-Kazimi wrote in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Watan: "Many investigations are not needed [to learn] who is behind the cowardly terrorist operation in Spain that took the lives of innocents, whose limbs were scattered and whose bodies were torn to pieces, men, women, children, and the elderly… The accusing finger points at the separatist ETA organization… No one has imagined that the one behind this crime is the Zionist crime organization, which has the greatest interest in fanning hatred against the Arabs and Muslims… I claim with certainty that the ones who attribute all evil to the Arabs and the Muslims are the Zionists, those who are closest to carry out such an operation, like the other operations [that they carried out]. Perhaps there will be someone who will attest that he saw the Zionists filming the events from afar, and that there were no Jewish victims [among the victims of the attack], as in September 11 in America…"

I won't bore you with more of those but there are plenty if you'd like to read them.



It is interesting to think about how the world would react if a bunch of Christian fundamentalists hijaced several planes and crashed them into Muslim shrines.

The "Christian" countries of the world would go batshit and would fall over themselves to apaologizes and pay reparations.

Posted by: John Rogers at April 20, 2004 10:58 AM