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A Million Martyrs: It Does Not Matter - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The storm surrounding the comments of the opposition Parliamentarian Noureddine Ait-Hamouda still rages after he challenged the veracity of the number of Algerians martyred in the Algerian war of independence against France, when he described the figures presented by President Ahmed Ben Bella as being incorrect.

Hamouda’s comments were not just a shock for Algeria, but for the entire Arab world, which has always taught its children that Algeria is the land of a million martyrs. This has galvanized those who are against what Hamouda has said, and they have demanded that his parliamentary seat be frozen, and further legal action be taken against him. They have described him as a ‘son of France’ in other words accusing him of treason, even though he himself is the son of a martyr of Algeria war of independence.

The importance here lies not in the number of martyrs, but whether this sacrifice is equaled today. For every nation deserves a sacrifice, but this sacrifice should not be built on dishonest and irrational slogans.

This issue is not just about Algeria, but it is important also to ask have we preserved what these martyrs gave their blood for? Are all the wars that take place in our region making the world a better place? Aren’t all wars sacred while they are being fought?

When we begin to think clearly about these issues we will reach an awareness regarding the magnitude of the disasters that take place in some Arab countries, with regards to the bloodshed, the destruction, and the violation of sacred places, under various slogans, and the grounds that no sound is louder then the sound of conflict.

The liberation and protection of our nations is a sacred right; but should this right be exploited for the purpose of internal repression or to ignite wars under false pretenses? Of course not, but unfortunately the value of ones life in some of our revolutionary countries is non- existent, and now it has become our recent past, and the present we live in does not differ from the previous wars and destruction, and whoever disputes this will have hell to pay.

And so the number of Sudanese killed and injured over the course of a blood war has reached almost two million, and those who oppose are labeled traitors. And what is the result today, what is the solution to the Sudan? What of Somalia and the death-toll there, which is leading to the disintegration of the country as a whole.

The same applies to Iraq, from the million killed in the eight-year war with Iran, to its tragic reality today. The same of Lebanon, which in its last war with Israel suffered a death-toll of 1200, and experienced losses exceeding 5 billion dollars, and in exchange for what, which is the question still being asked.

Here one will say: What about the Israeli occupation? This question is of course still being answered, but what has been achieved so far? For if we valued human life the rules of dealing with Israel would be very different. For today, following the Hamas coup d’etat we are facing the reality of a Palestinian civil war, and the list goes on.

Therefore, the importance lies not in the number of those killed since the blood of a single individual is invaluable, but whether did these sacrifices led to the building of nations that are worth a quarter of blood spilled?

I will not answer; just consider things around you, politically, economically, educationally, culturally, to know the answer to this question with regards to some Arab countries, and you will realize that the blood of the victims spilled in our Arab revolutionary world has been spilled in vain, either at the behest of a reckless leader, or because of a militia commander who believes he is above the rest.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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