07 November 2003

Arab Liberal Writer Blames Arab Media for Hatred of US "According to Abd Al-Bari Atwan, 'the U.S. has given the world a model of equality, human rights, an independent judicial authority, and democratic institutions, but has always acted to deprive Arabs and Muslims of these achievements…'

"Mr. Abd Al-Bari Atwan… It is not possible to impose these achievements if they don't want them. Democracy is not a commodity that the U.S. can export or donate.

"Atwan complains that, 'At the Aqaba summit, the U.S. president pledged to preserve Israel's Jewish identity…' and [he wonders] 'how the U.S. – a country with ethnic, religious, and cultural pluralism – can support a racist country that is based on religion…'

An op-ed by Abd Al-Bari Atwan, editor of London Arabic daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, claiming that the U.S. is to blame for the Arab world's hatred of it, [1] sparked a debate in the Arab press. Munir Al-Mawari, a Yemenite journalist and columnist for the London Arabic-language daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, wrote several articles responding to Atwan's claims.
"Mr. Atwan, the U.S. does not support Israel because it is a Jewish country, but because Israel has succeeded in linking its existence with the supreme national American interest. We have 22 religious countries. In all of them but one, the constitution stipulates that Islam is the national religion and that Islamic law is the principle source of legislation. [And yet] despite this, the U.S. maintains ties with us. The reality is that Israel is more democratic than any Arab country, and the suffering of the Palestinian citizen in Israel is much less than the suffering of the Arab citizen in his homeland and his own Arab country, whatever country that may be …"
To Atwan's claim that "the Arab satellite channels suffer from a severe shortage of voices and figures willing to defend the U.S…. because it is indefensible…" Al-Mawari responds: "There are many who [would] defend the U.S. in the Arab media – but in the Arab media jungle, dominated by extremists or by those who fear them, America's defenders don't have a chance… Does the U.S. realize that it must fight the weapons of bias and mass fraud before it eliminates WMD?"