Thursday, July 12, 2007

Who has the Right to Complain?

From an op-ed in Asharq Alawsat, courtesy of Crossroads Arabia:
In the wake of the foiled London and Glasgow terrorist attacks, one Arab writer complained about a campaign to distort the image of Arabs. Rather than being regretful that people from amongst us are seeking to do us harm, he further vented his anger at the victim—the society targeted by sabotage and killing, considering it bias and aiming to offend.

...At that time, some Arab voices justified the crime. Then killings and hijackings proliferated…Ever since then, we have been witnessing the same circle of violence that has killed more Arabs and Muslims than anyone else…most of these bombings were carried out in our name. Although we are innocent, we cannot improve our image at the international level while these perpetrators are our fellow citizens. Terrorism is a horrible condition both mentally and politically and cannot be cured by falseness.

My response, aided by the magic of Google translation:
It seems strange to read such words coming from an Arab, because not only does he reject, but the author comes very close to the idea that Arabs must accept responsibility, as a society, for the terrorist culture that exists in a significant proportion of Arab and Muslim populations.

I note that the feedback from readers about this opinion piece is mostly but not completely negative:

“Your words are true, but the Western world…”
“it’s Khomeini’s policy…”
“Who kills innocent people in Palestine? Isn’t that Israel?”

One person commented that since the terrorists hurt Islam’s image, it is up to those Muslims in the West to improve Islam’s image, which effectively denies the author’s point entirely.

On the other hand, one person seemed to say that Arabs are “victims and executioners at the same time, and seek to create this in others.”

I note that only the American Muslim commented that if Muslims had fought the terrorist phenomenon then (the early 70’s) then maybe the more extreme organizations would be less successful today.

Encouragingly, the last comment is that the author should go all the way and not hold back.

My interpretation is that Arab and Muslim opinions in this matter are in a state of flux, with the tendency to blame the West and Israel declining slightly as the Iran situation worsens, the Iraqi situation improves, and the inadequacy of Palestinian self-rule becomes difficult to ignore. It seems there is a very long distance from this point to the direction the author is heading, which is that Arab society still can’t take responsibility for the terrorists it breeds from birth to bomber, and should do so if it wishes to improve “our image”.

What I find peculiar is that no one expresses the opinion that terrorism itself is an offense against G-d. Is that because the writer and his respondents are secular, or is it because the principle of terrorism is seen as religiously acceptable, or is there some other explanation?

[All my translations are very loose, and I would welcome any corrections.]

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