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the November 2001 issue of World Press Review (VOL. 48,
Reaction to the Terrorist Attacks on the United States
Muhammad Naji Amayrah, Al-Rai (pro-government),
Amman, Jordan, Sept. 13, 2001.
United States has received a grievous assault, aimed below
the belt. It was an event more immense than anything imaginable,
beyond even the realm of movies or science-fiction novels.
Probably the most accurate description came from the mouth
of President Bush himself when he called it a national
WeArabs and Muslimssympathize greatly with the
victims and families of those killed and wounded, and we feel
grief and sadness from a humane perspective. However, it is
necessary to distinguish between the American people, and
their political leadership and its militaristic declarations.
This also means we need to distinguish between the methods
of the American political leadership and their arrogance in
their unparalleled domination of the world, and American citizens
who have committed no offense and who fell victims to the
events of Black Tuesday, as it has been called
in the American press.
We must emphasize our strong condemnation of the acts of devastation
in New York and Washington, D.C., as loathsome and despicable
and accurately describe it as terrorism against civilians.
As such, we feel compassion for the American people, regardless
of the policies of their government. In a similar manner,
there is no doubt that we do not consider the American people
guilty or responsible for their governments
mistaken and biased policies toward the
With this in mind, we are certain that the American people
have not returned similar feelings of sympathy or compassion
for Arabs and Muslims, and especially for Palestinians. This
is because the Palestinian movement, which Arabs have been
involved in against the forces of Israeli occupation, is viewed
as terrorism and extremism, which
it is not. It is in fact a struggle for the most basic and
legal human rights. It is also necessary to distinguish between
those acts of terrorism that carried away thousands of innocent
civilians in New York and the national, popular, and human
struggle for the sake of freedom and independence in Palestine.
With this in mind, we as Arabs understand the surge of condemnation
and loathing for the events in New York City and Washington,
D.C., which are also the universal feelings in the Arab nations,
whether at the official or popular levels of society. It has
been demonstrated, for example, by the rush of proclamations
by Palestinian leaders, including organizations that have
been labeled opposition, such as Hamas, Islamic
Jihad, the Popular Front, and the Demo-cratic Front, to say
with resounding unity: No to terrorism. Ironically,
the disgrace of these tragic events is that a unique opportunity
is slipping away for the government of Israel, which has instead
been agitating against Arabs and Muslims, Palestinians in
It must be said that whenever we strongly opposeor rather,
rejectthe initiatives of American foreign policy toward
the Arab world and its issues, this does not mean that we
endorse terrorism. Truly, we endure a kind of terrorism nearly
every moment at the hands of the Israeli government and its
As for the events in the United States, these difficult and
critical moments should enable the American people to unite
in a condemnation of the terrorism that befell them, without
having these feelings used to justify the various foreign
policy positions of their government or without falling into
the pitfall of what could be called malicious rage.
In this time of recovery for the American people, during which
they have rightfully become enraged, they should not direct
these feelings toward the Arab world and its profound human
issues, as they are not keenly aware of the situation.
And whatever political solutions may be enacted to recover
from the events of Sept. 11, the American government should
be appealed to for restraint and prevention of sentiments
that carry people away in a quest for easy solutions or easy
goals. This includes viewing Arabs and Muslims in general
We dont think it far-fetched that there are domestic
American perpetrators who have cooperated and shared in planning
these acts of destruction and suicide planes. We await the
results of the ongoing investigation to reveal everything
and hope that Americans will be fortified and recover from
the horror and shock of these events.
And perhaps this will be a good opportunity to review American
foreign policy and to discover the causes of rising enmity
toward these policies in different parts of the world, and
even within the heartland of America. As we know, there are
many groups in American society that endure prejudice and
oppression; they may have participated in these terrorist
acts because of their circumstances.
Finally, we must comment on the American media, which rushed
to accuse organizations as well as Arab and Islamic nations
and seem always certain of our involvement without waiting
for a fair and impartial outcome of events. This does not
serve higher American interests or American relations with
the Arab and Islamic world.