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memri
December 1, 2001 No.
306

Americans Respond to the Anti-U.S. Egyptian Media

Following September 11, the topic of anti-U.S. incitement coming from the Egyptian government press has been brought to the attention of the American public. Al-Ahram Weekly, which is available on the Internet in English, has received hundreds of emails from Americans responding to the content of its papers. The following are some excerpts:

"We are told that thousands were massacred on 11 September," wrote William K. Black, assistant professor at the University of Texas at Austin, LBJ School of Public Affairs, "because of global income disparities, or because the U.S. is arrogant, or because the U.S. does not put enough pressure on Israel to make peace."

"In fact, none of those things motivated bin Laden… Bin Laden has made it abundantly clear that what lit his fuse was the presence of 'infidels' 'defiling' 'holy Arabia' (i.e. American troops risking their lives to defend [their] native country from imminent invasion by Saddam)… Our soldiers do not 'defile' a country by defending it, and it is a Wahabi/House of Saud 'creation myth' to call all of Saudi Arabia 'holy'…"

"Whatever policies we followed with regard to Israel, bin Laden would still have wished to engage in the mass murder of Jewish and Christian civilians ('Crusaders' in his argot)… The U.S. could increase foreign aid a hundred times over and he would still seek our blood… He wants the restoration of the universal caliphate, the recovery of all lands ever ruled by Muslims, and the mass murder of those who stand in the way of this restoration – including women and children…"

"One of your opinion writers says the critical question Americans should ask is why 19 Arabs were willing to sacrifice their lives to massacre thousands of innocents… What caused five or six unarmed Americans [on the hijacked plane that crashed outside Pittsburgh] to be willing to give up their lives attacking four armed terrorists in order to save the lives of people they didn't even know?… It was love. What caused the terrorists to act as they did? It was hate. That hate was very carefully taught…"[1]

In a second letter Black wrote: "If Americans knew more about the response of the Arab and Islamic world to the acts of terror against the U.S., they would be vastly more upset… If they read your newspaper, they would be furious… Americans have no idea that the leading theory among Egyptians is that Jews did it and that tens, perhaps hundreds, of millions of Muslims believe this grotesque lie. Americans have no idea that one of your frequent columnists intimates that U.S. security services crashed the planes into the buildings… Your columnists rant about purported anti-Arab columnists in the U.S., but their vituperation and lack of concern for the facts vastly exceeds U.S. columnists…"[2]

Lt. Col. Michael Kaiser, SYNCOMPAC, Operation Enduring Freedom, wrote: "I was immediately reminded that I have always respected the honest and forthright, even if I disagree with them, and find despicable the too slick, the propagandist, the hypocrite, and the liar masquerading as a wise one. Even the Jihad, 'American is Satan' crowd are at least honest in their presentation. Your produced-in-Egypt, English-language paper is a pseudo-intellectual pretense, trying to imitate a journal of free thought. Your contributors are well written, in the technical sense (university in America or England perhaps? – enjoy the visits?), but only your probably unsophisticated readers are fooled by your presentation…"

"[Take] your snide comments, such as, well now those Americans know that 'no one is safe anywhere in the world;' your threats, such as, '... hoping it [U.S. military action] will not provoke a reaction more deadly than the terrorist attacks'; the ridiculous 'instead of going after a bunch of terrorists, it (America) should put its own house in order.'"

"Well, sir, we are going to do both. We are going to totally eliminate each and every one of this putrid scum, as we informed President Mubarak… The first [change] will be in our immigration policy, then in our oil policy…"

"Your writer… [in America] complained that she was insulted by people judging her because of her Arab looks. This is all we hear from the Islamic community in America: Oh me Oh my, somebody gave me a dirty look, America is awful, oh yeah, 6,000 people were just murdered. You have such a long article about the poor Egyptian cab drivers who will lose money because of reduced tourism, boo hoo. I'll use one of my grandson's favorite responses, when he hears or reads something extremely dumb: 'duh?'…" [3]

Sara Welsh of Los Angeles, California wrote, "It came as a shock to many of us in the U.S. to see Egypt's weak response in regard to the WTC attack. After talking to several people I know in diplomatic circles I was told that it was typical – you take what you can get from us ($2 billion a year) and have neither the courage nor the ethics to show friendship at a time when we are facing one of the biggest crises in our history."

"Your paper made the point of our involvement with Iraq. Perhaps you don't remember, but we were begged by Kuwait, and to a lesser extent Saudi Arabia, to be involved. I agree with you now: we should have let you people die for yourselves instead of fighting for you… More Kurds have been killed in massacres by the Iraqis than Palestinians killed in the uprising. Evidently no one in Egypt loses sleep over them – why is a Palestinian life worth more than a Kurdish one to you people?"

"Most offensive is trying to deny what is obvious all over the world: it is the work of Muslim extremists. While you try to point the finger at U.S. policy as the cause you ignore the reality: the fanatics of that religion have inflicted violence all over the world for a long time. India, for example, has suffered greatly because of Muslim extremists. You people are cowards and I'm ashamed my country is willing to call you an ally."[4]

In its September 20-26 edition, Al-Ahram Weekly published a letter by Tom Knox of Tallahassee, Florida, who had "just finished reading 'The Giant's Feet of Clay' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 13-19 September)." Knox wrote: "Several things become very evident. First, Arabs in general, as advertised, are quite prejudiced. There is very little tolerance in your society… No wonder so many of us here in the States feel that we are talking to people still living in the 11th century! Join the 21st and enjoy diversity! It is not a slap in the face at Islam to be Buddhist, Protestant, Christian, or Jewish."

"Second, for all the problems with the Israelis – and there are many – they pale to the genocide Islamics have practiced on themselves over the last 25 years. How many Islamic people did Saddam gas (his own)? More than Israel has killed in all its conflicts with Palestine. What about the 3,000,000 Iranians who died (hey, they were Islamics, too) fighting Iraq back in the 1980s? How many Iraqis died in that fighting too? Gee, how many Saudis died when Saddam came to visit?"

"Now let's look at Africa and the starving populations and AIDS crisis there. Where is Islam? The U.S. is there spending billions to keep these people alive... Many Islamics. Yes, we have ships and planes, most dating back to the Cold War... But clearly the trend for the last 10 years has been to cut back military spending, and spend more on humanitarian/economic development all over the world…"[5]

Mike Iannarone of North Carolina wrote: "So many of your correspondents seem to believe that the U.S. is wrong to be attacking Afghanistan in the physical manner that we are. They believe that we should feed them and clothe them and all of the other 'feel-good' nonsense that comes from being weak and sniveling."

"I notice with a wry disdain that many Arab countries do not treat dissidence with the open arms of inclusiveness. Indeed, they are rather brutal in their intolerance of dissent and punishment of dissenters. Egypt a number of years ago had a terrible problem with terrorists. I do not believe the final solution to that was to sit around a fire and drink tea. I believe that the army was sent to root out the terrorists and kill them. Isn't that interesting? Yet the U.S. is castigated for 'rushing to judgment' and 'lack of caution.' You make me laugh… If it is truly believed that terrorism is wrong, why have the imams and leaders of Islam not demanded that the acts cease and that the perpetrators be dealt with by any authority. They did not. America will. Your readers can either join us, stand aside, or be part of the problem we will deal with. It's all about choices."[6]

Tim McDonald Lee of Florida responded to a columnist's complaint that the U.S. is using cluster bombs in Afghanistan: "…If you would be so kind to instruct me and President Bush how to conduct a war without the tragic loss of innocent lives? We would be most grateful to you. I believe it has never been done in human history, but perhaps you know something the rest of humanity does not…" [7]

Herbert Kaine, of Berkeley, California, in reference to Michael Jensen's article "Nosedive in Saudi-U.S. ties" (Al-Ahram Weekly, 15- 21 November), wrote that the author "neglected the most obvious reason of all: It is because 15 of the 19 terrorists who caused the disasters of 11 September entered the U.S. on Saudi visas. Ten years ago, Americans were viewed as heroes for defending Saudi Arabia from Saddam Hussein. Now we are viewed as infidels whose presence pollutes Islamic lands. This is an opinion shared by Crown Prince Abdullah and fellow Saudi citizen Osama bin Laden."

He concluded, "Perhaps U.S. Saudi ties could be improved if Saudi revenues went into improving social services for Saudis and Palestinians instead of to madrassahs where impoverished Arabs learn hatred instead of the Koran."[8]

Don Reilly, of York, Pennsylvania wrote: "…read your lies with great interest... It is indeed wonderful how the Internet can disseminate information and illuminate your ridiculous pack of lies to those you abuse with those lies. It must be so very embarrassing for you when the Taliban have fallen and the Afghan people are celebrating in the streets, playing music, shaving their beards, and dancing in the streets. I don't understand how these images, which are all over the 'free' world press, don't seem to have made it to you. But of course, this would contradict the many lies you spread about America committing genocide in Afghanistan."

"You complain about the lack of direct news coverage but you don't say it is the Taliban that would not let reporters into their country… Hey, now that the Taliban is defeated you have free access and can go to Kabul today. Let's see if you can find the 1,500 civilian deaths you claim. Of course, they do not exist – no more than the 1.5 million deaths in Iraq that your lies claim America has caused. Iraq of course is another dictatorship which does not allow the press to verify anything."

"Dictatorship – interesting concept of government... Oh yeah, that's the kind of government you have! Egypt – a dictatorship with one third of the population illiterate and getting a $2 billion a year handout from the U.S.A. Do your readers know that? Even before 11 September, the majority of the food aid for Afghanistan came from the U.S.A. The bags of wheat in those Red Cross warehouses you mentioned all say U.S.A. on them. I swear I did not see even one that said Egypt..."

"I don't care that your country hates us, but I do care that we give money to liars and people that hate us. There is a movement now to stop such foolishness. I am writing my congressmen and senators tonight and providing links to your articles as I have already done with Fox News Network. Fox News is currently doing a story on the Muslim countries that we provide aid to that hate us…"

"By the way, as far as 'evidence' against bin Laden is concerned, why do you act so stupid? Have you read the fatwa he issued in 1998 to kill all Americans? It is not exactly a confusing message, so why are you confused? His camps trained over 20,000 terrorists in the last several years. Do you think those people took the training to make pizzas?" [9]


[1] Al-Ahram Weekly (Egypt), October 11- 17, 2001 http://www.ahram.org.eg/weekly/2001/555/letters.htm.

[2] Al-Ahram Weekly, November 8-14, 2001.

[3] Al-Ahram Weekly (Egypt), October 11-17, 2001 http://www.ahram.org.eg/weekly/2001/555/letters.htm.

[4] Al-Ahram Weekly, September 27-October 3, 2001 http://www.ahram.org.eg/weekly/2001/553/letters.htm.

[5] Al-Ahram Weekly, September 20-26, 2001 http://www.ahram.org.eg/weekly/2001/552/letters.htm.

[6] Al-Ahram Weekly, October 18-24, 2001 http://www.ahram.org.eg/weekly/2001/556/letters.htm.

[7] Al-Ahram Weekly, November 15-21, 2001 http://www.ahram.org.eg/weekly/2001/560/letters.htm.

[8] Al-Ahram Weekly, November 22-28, 2001 http://www.ahram.org.eg/weekly/2001/561/letters.htm.

[9] Ibid.