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Who has the Right to Complain? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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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.

Here, we should put things in the proper perspective. Who should apologize for the serious operations that could have killed thousands?

It is a hard time for us all because terrorism, although mostly associated with Arabs and Muslims, certainly represents only the perpetrators. However, how you can ask any targeted society to remain silent even though the perpetrator is amongst us and how can this writer argue and blame the victim in order to maintain his reputation rather than preserve the lives of others?

Terrorism has struck in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon and Yemen and targeted London and Glasgow recently. We do not have to be skeptical any longer about the involvement of some of us as the hallmark is manifest, not necessarily in this case, but in dozens of previous terrorist attacks that the perpetrators took pride in via videotapes that broadcast the details of these crimes.

Some of us are only concerned with image rather than recognizing the crisis and trying to solve it. The issue is an old and repeated one that has long defamed us. Since the early 1970s, terrorism has been linked to us. Scores of planes were blown up, hundreds of people were killed at international airports, ships were hijacked, and bombs were planted and detonated in clubs and restaurants. Our bombings occurred in the streets of Paris, Munich, Rome, Vienna and Malta, as well as dozens of Asian, Arab and other cities.

I will relate a well-known story to clarify that practice rather than image is the issue.

In Rome, on December 17, 1973, five terrorists, speaking Arabic, pulled out their weapons at the airport and killed two people. They then attacked a pan-American 707 bound for Beirut and Tehran, destroying it, with five senior Moroccan officials and 14 American Saudi ARAMCO employees onboard. They then took five Italian hostages into a Lufthansa airliner and killed one of them in front of the pilot, forcing him to fly to Beirut. After Lebanese authorities refused to allow the plane to land, it landed in Athens, where the terrorists demanded the release of two Arab prisoners. In order to confirm their demands to the Greek authorities, the terrorists killed another passenger and threw his body onto the tarmac. But there were no response. The plane then flew to Damascus, where it stopped to obtain fuel and food. Finally, they concluded the trip of terror by flying to Kuwait, where the terrorists released their hostages in return for passage to an unknown destination.

At that time, some Arab voices justified the crime. Then killings and hijackings proliferated and Arab planes and bombings where taking place in a number of various locations. Ever since then, we have been witnessing the same circle of violence that has killed more Arabs and Muslims than anyone else. The justification is the same even if the criminals are different. Therefore, there is no longer holiness or solemnity of places, from Mecca to New York, as mosques, churches, schools, hospitals and thousands of victims have been targeted. Unfortunately, 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.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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