Do not miss the latest from MEMRI. It seems our friends at Al-Jezeera aired a discussion entitled "Why the Arabs Have Become the Joke of the World."Participants in the discussion included Algerian journalist Yahya Abu Zakaria, identified as an Islamist and resident of Sweden, and Egyptian historian Ahmad Othman, identified as a liberal. Some excerpts:
Yahya Abu Zakaria: "Oh Arab ruler, before the Americans enter your palace to search it, let the Arab street enter this palace to trim your mustache. Get out, because you are the reason for our cultural, social, and political catastrophes, and all our catastrophes, the last of which was that the American master is coming to gnaw away at the region directly, after some of its rulers were CIA officials..."
Ahmad Othman: "The Arab has no honor, no thought, no culture. We have turned these images into regimes, and were we to replace them, others just like them would come in their stead. We must, first of all, change ourselves. We must establish cultural values..."
"Why do we want to defend Saddam Hussein? Why do all the Arab regimes use the Arab people as a human shield for the greatest dictator of them all? If you object to dictatorships – who in the [Arab] regimes is a greater dictator than Saddam Hussein? How can the Arab people, who are persecuted by their regimes, be asked to defend the murderer who killed hundreds of thousands of the Iraqi people...? How can we defend Saddam Hussein and remain a free people ourselves? [A people] that defends a dictator is not a free people..."
Yahya Abu Zakaria: "I have in my possession a document that talks of an Arab security apparatus with 250,000 personnel. Who said there's unemployment in the Arab world? In a single apparatus, there's someone who chases the people, someone who chases the high school students, someone who chases the newspapers and journalists... "
"Since the Arab ruler is illegitimate... he has decided that he must surround himself with military personnel and policemen. The state budget that is meant to create economic stability..., he spends on the security apparatuses and on the army so that they will enable him to terrorize [the people in his land]... In our Arab reality, the father fears his son, the son fears his brother, and the mother fears her daughter..."
Ahmad Othman: "[Today, the intellectuals] have become government officials, and they defend a dictatorial regime. All the Marxist intellectual groups defend the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. The Arab people no longer understand... our intellectuals have sold themselves to the dictator... But what happened is that after September 11, the Americans realized that the dictatorial regimes in the Arab region produce terrorists who attack America and Europe. The entire world lives in fear of the terrorists that these regimes produce. The Americans realized this. They do not want to establish democracy for our sake, but in order to defend themselves. If the Arab people have an opportunity to learn, to participate in the rule of its land, and to participate in building society, it will not destroy America and Europe."
It looks like Ahmad Othman has more sense than our French friends