A Declaration of War against Whom?

Category: World Affairs Topics: Egypt, New York, World Trade Center Views: 1067

Political reporter Tarek Atia provides a comprehensive tour of the Egyptian press in the wake of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks

While the US's seemingly already determined strike on Afghanistan was the main focus of the news, coverage of the troubles being faced by Arabs and Muslims abroad in the wake of the attack on the US was extensive as well.

One had only to glance at either Al-Wafd or Al-Akhbar, which featured identical front page banners: "America beats the drums of war". Al-Ahram, Egypt's largest daily, featured the same headline inside.

Al-Wafd featured it as its main banner headline on Friday, the front page screaming out "Tremors of Judgment Day: Hate Campaign Against Arabs and Muslims in America and Europe". Saturday's papers were also filled with photos and stories from Muslim and Arab communities everywhere, showing them praying, and lighting candles for the victims.

Al-Ahram featured a photo of an American Muslim waving a large American flag from the roof of a mosque. Below him a large billboard read, "Prayer services for the victims of our national tragedy, five times daily".

Meanwhile, Egypt has asked America to provide the same level of protection to its institutions and citizens in the US, as it provides for US institutions and citizens in Egypt. The message was conveyed by Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher to the US charge d'affaires in Cairo, who condemned the anti-Arab and Muslim harassment that had taken place and promised it wouldn't happen again.

Maher said Egypt shared in American anger at what had happened. He said the important thing now was to find a best-case solution, preferably one that went through channels like the UN or the Security Council.

"'We are cooperating with the United States in the investigation that is going on right now and exchanging any information between the two countries that will help in uncovering the mysteries of this crime,'' Maher told Reuters.

At the same time, the foreign minister said Washington should think carefully before passing judgment over the attacks.

"We are happy that the United States agrees with us about the need to refrain from rushing to judgment , and that it needs to take time to think about the way to respond to this crime."

Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa -- during his phone conversation with US Secretary of State Colin Powell -- also asked Powell to respect the rights of Arab and Muslims in the United States and protect them from the threats against them. Moussa urged Powell not to jump to conclusions which might produce dangerous results. Powell, for his part, assured Moussa that the US was aware of all these factors, and that they were taking the necessary steps to protect Arab and Muslim Americans.

Al-Wafd's editor-in-chief Magdi Mehanna did not mince words in his back page "Fil mamnou" (Out of Bounds) column on Saturday. "What kind of terrorism is America and the rest of the world talking about?" asks Mehanna.  He precedes this question by pointing out that the US and Europe stood aside while Israel committed atrocities acts against the Palestinians, a form of terrorism.

In a column entitled, "A Declaration of War against Whom?", Salama Ahmed Salama in Al-Ahram said the alliances being forged by the US and Europe in the wake of the attack were rather telling -- and that the Middle East should be watching carefully for what comes next. Salama said the current strategic scenario is former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak's dream vision. Barak appeared just after the incident immediately calling for a Western alliance against terror, defining that terror as 5 or 6 Arab or Islamic nations and organizations.

Al-Ahram's Ahmed Bahgat, meanwhile, asked several questions about the tragedy, the first that comes to his mind being, "How could the world's strongest country be surprised like this? How could all the different security apparatuses fail to detect and stop this?"

Scriptwriter and columnist Osama Anwar Okasha wrote in Al-Wafd that the "giant body of this super nation has given birth to a revealing wound. The American people have been injured by an exaggerated wound that won't heal... and which will leave many scars. And will create a different America which we still don't know or haven't yet seen." Okasha also argues that all possibilities are open regarding the identity of the perpetrators, including international spy agencies or home-grown factions within the US.


Tarek Atia is a political correspondent for Al-Ahram weekly and editor of  http://www.cairolive.com, providing Egyptian news, views and entertainment -- every day.

  Category: World Affairs
  Topics: Egypt, New York, World Trade Center
Views: 1067

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