Review of the Arab press

June 21, 2007 at 10:16 AM
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AMMAN, Jordan, June 21 (UPI) -- The London-based al-Quds al-Arabi Thursday blasted Britain's decision to award writer Salman Rushdie a knighthood, saying it was a move that provokes the sentiments of 1.5 billion Muslims in the world. The independent Palestinian-owned daily added in a commentary the people who made the decision of choosing Rushdie -- who is of Indian Muslim origin and author of "The Satanic Verses," which many Muslims deemed as "blasphemous" for insulting the Prophet Mohammed and his wives -- were either naive and stupid, or just wanted to challenge the world's Muslims. The paper, with Arab nationalist trends, argued those who chose this writer to be honored with a knighthood must have known that to do so at this time would anger Muslims, many of whom supported a fatwa (religious decree) against his life issued by Iran's late Ayatollah Khomeini. Honoring Rushdie came at the wrong time and by the wrong country, it insisted, and urged an official investigation into how such a dangerous move could be taken at the expense of Britain's national security, interests and its citizens' safety in terms of violent retaliation. "The British government has every right and the sovereignty to choose whom to honor," it said, "but there are hundreds from the Muslim community in Britain who greatly served this country in the fields of science and economy that deserve to be honored more than Salman Rushdie, who has only brought the country troubles and problems from most Muslim nations."

Another Palestinian daily, al-Hayat al-Jadeeda, based in the West Bank, said the world has enough problems than to reopen the issue of Salman Rushdie 18 years after his "Satanic Verses" was published. "It's as if our problems in politics, war and economics are not enough than for the West to open against us, every now and then, cultural fronts that only seek to provoke and deepen the historic chasm," said the mainstream paper in a commentary. It said Rushdie was a mediocre writer until 1988 when he published "Satanic Verses," which the paper insisted was provocative even to neutral parties because of the way he used the name of Prophet Mohammed and naming brothels after his wives. "So what is the meaning now of honoring Salman Rushdie after all this time after his 'Satanic Verses'?" asked the paper, close to the secular Fatah movement. It noted the author has written two more novels after "Satanic Verses" and no one in Europe and the West thought they added any literary value. "So this honor is for 'Satanic Verses,' which means support for the Muslim author's insult of Islam," it opined, adding his knighthood was a political decision within the framework of the ongoing tension between Iran and Britain and criticized London for "assaulting the sentiments of millions of people."

Qatar's al-Rayah said the problems have not yet started with what is left of the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip after it underwent its "suicide" move by taking over Gaza. The pro-government daily added in an opinion piece that the faction's problems will not just be confined to the Israeli blockade on Gaza and the stopping of all utility services to push Hamas towards "humiliating defeat." The problem Hamas will face, it argued, is in the imminent collapse of the Islamic movement's reform plans that Hamas started because of a "miscalculated operation" that ended with a military coup. "Hamas is facing an impossible reality, holding on to a premature government, with all life tools cut off ... considering itself an established state, under the green banner of Hamas whose gunmen carried ... and is being unilateral in the political decision as it isolates the rest of the Palestinian partners," it maintained. The Islamic movement, the paper added, is trying to benefit from its military strength without paying attention to national interests.

Syria's official Tishreen said it is not enough just to speak about unity between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank without dialogue between Palestinian rivals or by rejecting a neutral Arab inquiry into what happened in Gaza. It implicitly criticized Fatah for closing the door to dialogue with Hamas. The state-run daily added in a commentary the U.S.-Israeli promised Palestinian state is "disfigured" to start with, in terms of the geographical distance between Gaza and the West Bank linked by an underground road. "Today Israel and the United States will not bother themselves with planning underground or above-ground roads, for the Bush-Olmert plan is clear in avenging the Strip and its steadfastness while under siege. The Palestinians refusal for dialogue is only serving this scheme," it opined. The daily insisted that separating Gaza will not work for Washington as it tries to save face for its failures in the region.

A cartoon in Jordan's ad-Dustour gave a gloomy picture of Palestinian hope for freedom and statehood after Hamas' takeover of the Gaza Strip following fierce battles with Fatah and Palestinian Authority institutions. The cartoon in the daily, which describes itself as independent but is partially owned by the government, is titled "The light at the end of the Palestinian tunnel." It shows a large black cannonball with a doorway on one side and a burning flare on the other. A masked gunman is forcefully pushing a frightened Arab into the doorway of the cannonball.

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