February 28, 2011 Special Dispatch No. 3624

Al-Arabiya Director-General: Where Was All This Bold Criticism of Al-Qadhafi during the 40 Years of His Tyranny?

February 28, 2011
Special Dispatch No. 3624

In an article in the daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, the director-general of Al-Arabiya TV, 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, criticized the Arab intellectuals and media for their attitude towards Mu'ammar Al-Qadhafi. He said that, in the past, though the world at large was unanimous in its denouncement of Al-Qadhafi, the Arab media and intellectuals consistently praised him. Then, when the tides turned against him after 40 years of tyranny and lunacy, all his former fans suddenly changed their tune and started to curse him. Rashed argued that this reversal was not laudable behavior, but merely hypocrisy.

The following are excerpts from the article:[1]

Al-Qadhafi "was Presented as the Leader of the Arabs and as the Bold [Voice of] Their Conscience, and as a Wise Man with Courageous Positions"

"The deposed Tunisian president Zine El-'Abidine Ben 'Ali had his supporters and his critics, and the same goes for the deposed Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. But when it comes to Mu'ammar Al-Qadhafi, soon to be the deposed president of Libya, there was an unprecedented consensus throughout the world... as to the negative character of his personality and deeds. [However,] despite this... [the Arabs] rarely spoke against him. He was presented as the leader of the Arabs and as the bold [voice of] their conscience, and as a wise man with courageous positions. [Today,] all this nonsense has disappeared, [to be replaced by] a stream of invective against the man and his actions. We all have the right to ask: where were these courageous declarations against [Al-Qadhafi] in the past 40 years, during which his crimes and lunacy [were clearly evident]? Why did everyone hold his tongue, throughout the Arab world, in all the media and cultural circles?

"There is No Convincing Justification for the Praise that was Heaped Upon this Man"

"The truth is that few dared to say a word against Al-Qadhafi because he was known as a lunatic who would not hesitate to pursue and kill anyone who criticized him. For decades he created a climate of terror [around him]. [Only] a few other leaders in the region, among them the late Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, [matched him] in their tyranny and brutality towards the media and intellectuals. [However,] if the media, artists and poets refrained from criticizing the brutal leaders out of fear for their lives, there is [still] an important question to be asked, [namely,] what was the motivation of those who praised [these leaders], wrote poems in their honor, attended rallies in support of their regimes, and wrote reams in praise of their heroism?

"The truth is that there is no convincing justification for the praise that was heaped upon this man [Al-Qadhafi], whom the world unanimously regarded as a criminal, and who ruled his people with an iron fist... Now we see [all his erstwhile fans] rushing to curse him and to express bold opinions against him, [though] we all realize the man reached the end [of his career] about a week ago. What is the value of a fatwa [permitting] to kill him,[2] if it comes [only] today, after 40 years of warm [regard for him]? What is the value of all this aggression towards him, when it comes from the same people who once praised him and called him an Arab hero and an emblem of steadfastness?

"This is [nothing but] hypocrisy, [so] there is no reason to be proud of this radical reversal. It is no courageous act to stick a knife in the back of someone who is as good as dead. This is very different from [a situation where there is genuine] controversy over a certain figure or regime. [For example], in the case of Mubarak, throughout the years of his rule he was a controversial figure, and there were those who criticized him openly in the streets of Cairo... [But in the case of Al-Qadhafi], some of his loudest critics today are people who ate at his table when he was in power."


[1] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), February 24, 2011.

[2] See MEMRI-TV Clip No. 2819, "Leading Sunni Scholar Sheik Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi Issues Fatwa to Army to Kill Libyan Leader Mu'ammar Al-Qadhafi," February 21, 2011,

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