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Liberal Arabs Rising By: MEMRI
Memri.org | Thursday, May 10, 2007


Three liberal Arab authors recently criticized the support for terrorism that exists in Arab societies. In an article on the liberal Arab website Elaph, Iraqi author Riyadh 'Abd asked why it is that Cho Seung-Hui's family apologized for their son's actions while the families of jihadi suicide bombers are proud of their children. Another article, also prompted by the massacre at Virginia Tech was written by Saudi author Rim Salih, who responded to other writers claimed that there was nothing unique about Islamist terrorism. In a third article, published in the UAE daily Al-Ittihad, Kuwaiti columnist Khalil 'Ali Haydar discussed the differences between Islamist terrorism and other kinds of terrorism, arguing that the degree of sympathy for terrorism in the Arab and Muslim world is greater than elsewhere.

The following are excerpts:

Iraqi Author Riyadh 'Abd: Pride in Terrorists is "A Conclusive Sign of the Moral Decline… of Contemporary Islamic and Arab Civilization"

In an article posted on the liberal Arab website Elaph on April 23, 2007 and titled "This Is the Difference Between Muslims and the Civilized World," Riyadh 'Abd compared the reaction of Virginia Tech killer Cho Seung-Hui's family to that of families of suicide bombers in Iraq:

"What caught my attention was a report… that the criminal's family… offered its apologies and expressed grief, embarrassment, and shame, as well as consternation and incomprehension of their son Cho Seung-Hui's atrocious crime… This Korean family expressed a sense of sadness and grief, profound remorse, and a sense of partial responsibility for what their son did.

"Let's compare this natural, human, civilized behavior that places value on human life with [that of] the families of Arabs in Islamic lands who lost their sons in Iraq in criminal suicide operations whose victims number tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians.

"Instead of the Iraqis receiving apologies and feelings of grief and consolation for these filthy criminals' killing and slaughtering of innocents and their demolishing and destroying of property, we see the families of these killers holding mourning ceremonies and bragging of the 'martyrdom' of their sons the mujahideen - [and at these ceremonies] they receive congratulations instead of condolences.

"This strange behavior and sick pride in criminal acts can only be explained as a conclusive sign of the moral decline and deterioration of contemporary Islamic and Arab civilization."

"Don't the Iraqi People Deserve an Apology From the Family" of Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi?

"There are hundreds of examples of this barbaric and disgraceful behavior, from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and other Arab countries. Where is the apology from the family of the barbaric criminal, the beheader known as Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi, to the Iraqi people for the crimes of mass murder, destruction of property, and cutting off [people's] livelihoods? Don't the Iraqis deserve an apology from the family, tribe, and village of this dirty scoundrel?

"Where is the apology from the family of the Jordanian criminal who caused the deaths of 200 innocent civilians in Al-Hilla, in a suicide bombing in a popular market in 2005? It is known that there was a large mourning ceremony after the death of this criminal, that was attended by a number of important Jordanian statesmen…

"I read an article from a few years ago about an attempt by CNN… to interview, in Cairo, the father of the criminal Muhammad 'Atta, the commander of the group responsible for [9/11]… It is known that this individual had at first spread made-up stories about the Mossad kidnapping his son, stories snatched up at the time by the Egyptian media, which is known for its addiction to invented stories and raving analyses…

"Later he began to brag about what his son did, calling his abominable criminal act 'jihad.' When CNN asked him for an interview, he made it contingent upon them paying him $5,000 for it. When they told him that it is station policy not to pay interviewees, Muhammad 'Atta's father turned down the interview, claiming that a Muslim is not allowed to aid the infidels without remuneration. Did the Muslims disapprove of this disgraceful position?... I don't think so.

"What is it That Makes Muslims, and Not the Rest of Humanity, Prone to This Kind of Barbarism?"

"While the supporters of the logic of jihad against the infidels will consider my words heresy, others who do not agree with extremist Islam will set out to deny Islam's responsibility for these crimes and for the disgraceful behavior of these scoundrels' families. But the question remains: What is it that makes Muslims, and not the rest of humanity, prone to this kind of barbarism? What is it that makes them… interpret their religion in a manner that permits the commission of disgraceful acts and bragging of them?

"I think that we have a right to demand answers from Islamic clerics and common Muslims who believe that 'Islam is the solution' [i.e. Islamists].

"… The wretched state of this [Islamic] nation has made it lose the sentiment of all that is noble and fine, and we react only to the clamor of the barbarians and the hangmen." [1]

Saudi Liberal Rim Al-Salih: "The Sanctification of Death for Death's Sake is a Distinctly Islamic-Arabic Specialization"

Another article sparked by the Virginia Tech massacre was a May 6 op-ed in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa, titled "There Is a Difference between Our Killers and the Virginia Killer." In it, Saudi author Rim Al-Salih wrote about differences between the Virginia Tech killer and the culture of Islamic terrorism:

"How happy some of us were at the crime at Virginia [Tech] University. Of course, the happiness was not at the death of 30 people on campus, among whom were three Arabs. The happiness and the delight that accompanied the crime were due to the fact that the killer this time - for a change! - was from Korea - i.e. he was not an Arab or a Muslim. We began to write articles that, while varying in style, could be summed up [in the words]: 'Terrorism and violence are not an Arab and Muslim specialization.'

"But, without lying to ourselves, can we compare the crime committed by an individual due to madness, mental illness, depression, or even due to the desire to kill and avenge, and the death supported by organizations, fatwas, [TV] stations, websites, funding by the millions, and pledges of allegiance taken in front of the holy Ka'ba?...

"The sanctification of death for death's sake is a distinctly Islamic-Arabic specialization. Coveting death, suicide, and the killing of innocents as a shortcut to Paradise is not shared by anyone else among Allah's creation. Is there any non-Arab who cuts the throat of journalists and peace workers - [people] who left their homes to do a true service or to aid our causes - for the crime of being fair-skinned and because of their eye color?...

"Some even go so far as to accuse the news channels of treason if they use the words 'killing' or 'killed' [instead of 'martyrdom' and 'martyr'], despite the fact that these terms are more accurate. Our vulgarization of the term 'martyrdom' (shahada) has made it lose its meaning, and death has lost its value and awe. The martyrdom-seeking (istishhad) of the Arabs has become like a reward for them, instead of a disaster or a calamity…

"The exaggeration in sanctifying death has made many youth prefer taking a shortcut to Paradise, instead of obeying the will of the Creator, who considers whoever kills one soul without justification as though he has killed all humanity, and considers whoever saves one life as though he has saved all humanity. [The Creator] wants [this youth] to strive to work, to live, to use the great energies he granted him in order to make the world flourish, and to leave his human imprint on existence…" [2]

Kuwaiti Columnist Khalil 'Ali Haydar: "Extremist Thought and Takfiri Groups Are No Longer Isolated Pockets"

In an April 29, 2007 article in the UAE daily Al-Ittihad, Kuwaiti columnist Khalil 'Ali Haydar outlined what he sees as the differences between Islamist terrorism and other forms of extremism and terrorism in the non-Muslim world:

"What is it that gives Islamist extremist terrorism such a degree of danger and influence? Is it different than the other kinds of extremism and terrorism used by followers of other communities, religions, and political parties?...

"I believe that the terrorism of the extremist Islamist groups is different (while also similar in some respects), in 10 areas:

"1) The number of participants in terrorist activities… It is clear that they have been able to lure thousands of youth in the Arab and Islamic world…

"Some estimate Al-Qaeda membership at thousands, but even the salafist jihadi and takfiri groups in the Philippines, Indonesia, Pakistan, the Gulf states, Egypt, and North Africa cannot complain of a lack of cadres… Wherever you turn your head in these countries, you find groups that, in their secret lives and perhaps even in the open, work to carry out terrorist activities in the name of Islam.

"Naturally, not all activity by political Islamist groups uses violence, but extremist thought and takfiri groups are no longer isolated pockets and minor groups. They have redoubled their danger through the use of modern communications, in particular satellite TV and the Internet.

"In fact, in the entire world, there is not the mass of terrorist activity, [in terms of] people and media, that we see in the Arab and Islamic world."

Political Islamists and Terrorists Are In Agreement on Most Goals

"2) Notwithstanding the differences in means… and in the forms of [these] organizations and movements, most of the ultimate strategic goals are similar and are agreed upon, by [both] the extremist terrorist groups and the other groups and political Islam parties. They have all generally agreed on [the following points]: the nature of 'the dangers faced by Islam and the Muslims in this era'; the personification of the nature of the political regimes 'that the West, colonialism, and world Judaism have imposed' on the Arabs and the Muslims; that these regimes and their jahili laws have no legitimacy, and that they remain in power as a result of despotism, intimidation, and the negligence of the peoples of the Islamic world; that the Islamic world will only find respite when it brings down all of these regimes, [whether] through terrorism - in Al-Qaeda's view - or through political activity, or through a combination of the two, as is the view of the open, 'moderate' Islamist groups."

"What Makes the Task of the Clandestine Terrorist Groups Easier - Is the Brainwashing That Has Been Carried Out by the Above-Ground Political Islamist Groups"

"3) The terrorism of Islamist extremism becomes [even] more dangerous when we take into account that these organizations operate in a general Islamic environment that shares with it many concepts and beliefs. It is true that these terrorist groups hold to the teachings of bin Laden, Al-Maqdisi, etc., but they also use the rest of the thinking, beliefs, and unchanging principles of the Islamic faith to obtain the public's sympathy and support…

"What makes the task of the clandestine terrorist groups easier is the brainwashing that has been carried out by the above-ground political Islamist groups for over… half a century… Thus, the terrorist groups are not treading rough paths…"

"A Wide Swath of Arabs and Muslims are Sympathetic to Some of the Slogans BeingPropagated by Both Political Islamist Groups and Terrorist Groups"

"4) A wide swath of the Arabs and Muslims are sympathetic to some of the slogans being propagated by both political Islamist groups and terrorist groups. This is due to political frustration, the reign of corruption and despotism, and developmental failures.

"5) Due to the ossification of political thought, the continuance of old ways of teaching Islamic culture, and the hegemony of the culture of violence and intolerance in our political life, this swath of the public sees the religious terrorist as a beneficial means of opposing the governments, taking revenge on minorities, or settling accounts.

"Given that many ordinary Muslims view the Christians, the Jews, and Western countries in general with hostility, and consider them to be perpetually conniving and aggressing against the Islamic world, and this for several centuries - Given this, the terrorist activity carried out, for instance by Al-Qaeda in New York, London, Madrid, and Paris, and against foreign tourists in the Arab world itself, easily finds sympathizers and warm supporters among the ranks of ordinary Muslims."

We Find No "Large Terrorist Organization With Mujahideen From Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Honduras, Or Mexico"

"6) If we are to compare terrorist organizations in the Islamic world with any terrorist organization in the Christian or Jewish worlds, or with any other [religious community], we will find nothing that is similar. Even if we look at the Catholics in the Latin American states, for instance, we will find no large terrorist organization with mujahideen from Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Honduras, or Mexico joining its ranks in order to bring down these regimes and to put an end to U.S. influence in Central and South America -despite all the poverty and all the problems of unemployment, oppression, and exploitation of misery in the countries of this region.

"7) Terrorist and extremist groups in various countries live in limited financial capabilities - [whereas] in the Arab and Islamic world, there is a tremendous amount of money in the service of terrorist activity. There is no doubt that the limitations that have been imposed since September 2001 have reduced these funds (or at least let us hope so). But the Arab world, especially the countries of the Gulf and the [Arabian] Peninsula and likewise some parts of the Islamic world, have wealth that makes financing terrorism a very simple matter. This is especially true since many destructive operations do not require large sums, but only small groups to carry out the orders."

Some Countries "Make a Show of Fighting Terrorism… While in Reality They Make Common Cause With It"

"8) The terrorism of extremist Islamist groups also differs [from other terror]… in that it receives support, [whether] permanent or temporary, from some of the religious institutions that are firmly established in these countries. While the official government may be against terrorism and terrorist groups, the official religious institution or the Islamic associations in the country [may at the same time] sympathize with it.

"Some of the countries use their relations with these organizations as a playing card, for example in their struggle with the U.S. and Europe. Other countries use them in their struggle with neighboring Arab and Islamic countries… In many cases, these countries make a show of fighting terrorism and hostility to terrorist organizations and activities, while in reality they make common cause with it, with some elements in government and some sheikhs or leaders of Islamic activity having connections with it. And what a connection it is!

"9) One of the most dangerous capabilities of the terrorist organizations in the Islamic world is the hijacked Islamic religious culture, which is exploited to realize the goals of these organizations. They carry out horrendous crimes of killing, and call it jihad. They aim their weapons or place their bombs in residential neighborhoods, and justify it Jihad and Terrorism, Islamist Websiteswith a hadith or a fatwa. Individuals may be assassinated after a fatwa is issued naming them as enemies of Islam and adversaries of the Muslims. Sectarian fighting leads to 'liquidations,' the bombing of houses of worship, and the killing of worshippers in the name of fighting false sects…

"The terrorist groups dub their leaders 'friends of Allah,' and [call] their men who are killed in their fight against the regional and international governments 'martyrs' and 'holy men.' Likewise, they exploit religious texts on jihad and martyrdom-seeking, as well as the glorification, veneration, and esteem [in these texts], and include [in these categories] any members of the organization who meet their deaths.

"We do not see these kinds of rituals and distinctions in the other terrorist organizations, outside the Islamic world - most of whom are limited in their number [of members], goals, and capabilities. [This is true of] the Basque region, Sri Lanka, or even Ireland…

"10) Finally, the terrorism by the organizations of the Islamic world differ [from other terrorist organizations] in their great violence, their large number of casualties, the savagery and repulsiveness of their methods, and their lack of hesitation in killing children, women, and ordinary civilians…" [3]


[1] www.elaph.com, April 23, 2007.

[2] Al-Siyassa (Kuwait), May 6, 2007.

[3] Al-Ittihad (UAE), April 29, 2007.

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