July 12, 2007 Special Dispatch No. 1650

Arab Liberals on the "Terrorist Doctors" Plot in the U.K.

July 12, 2007
Special Dispatch No. 1650

The recent failed terror attacks in London and Glasgow provoked a great deal of commentary among liberals in the Middle East and North African media, in particular due to the alleged involvement of a number of doctors in the plot. Some writers dwelt on the paradox of those trained to save lives becoming terrorists; others pointed to the suspects' backgrounds in order to argue that poverty and ignorance are not the main cause of terrorism; and a number of writers addressed the issue of Muslim immigration in Europe and the U.S.

The following are excerpts:

'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed: How Can One Explain the Fact That a Doctor Could Plan to Kill Innocent People?

In a July 5, 2007 article in the Al-Sharq Al-Awsat daily, Al-Arabiya TV director 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed wrote of his shock at learning that doctors were implicated in the attack plot:

"Not all doctors are angels, though theirs is the most respected and most needed of professions… But still, our expectations were not so low as [to think] that some of them would stoop to the level of murder and terrorism. This is a more violent shock than anything in the past.

"The shock was not [just] the news of planned bombings in Britain, since [all] corners of the world are filled with news of violence. The shock that jolted everyone was that the suspected criminals were doctors and [individuals] from the health sector…

"How can those who give justifications [for these actions] explain the fact that a doctor could plan to kill innocent people who [just] wanted to travel with their children, or passers-by in a crowded square?

"These people are sick, even if the walls of their clinics are decorated with medical diplomas.

"I can say, sadly, that they have done more harm to their people than any of the [other] groups that Al-Qaeda, and the countries that fund it, have chosen in order to carry out impure missions…

"[Al-Qaeda and its sponsors] have not left the Muslims any area where they can be free of them. They have succeeded in presenting Islam as an evil religion that even uses doctors to kill innocent people – despite the fact that they spent years studying and training in order to save people's lives, without regard to their religion, race, or gender.

"If someone were to try to defame the image of the Arabs and the meaning of Islam, they could not succeed as much as those who, year after year, specialized in presenting a bad example, [as though] to emphasize that this is not a problem of poverty or personal lack…"[1]

Mustapha Hammouche: Misery and Ignorance Are Not the Main Cause of Terrorism; Islamism is a Point of Moral Rupture

On July 4, 2007, Mustapha Hammouche wrote in his column in the liberal Algerian daily Liberte: "That the failed attacks in London and Glasgow were the act of doctors was unsettling, especially to those of the Hippocratic profession… [But] as long as… politicians busy themselves with tracing the reassuring limits of the danger instead of considering the extent of the menace, terrorism will continue to progress and to surprise us.

"While we admitted that chemistry and electronics had rendered invaluable services to terrorism, we were surprised a few days ago to discover the 'terrorism of doctors.' We are thus doomed to shake the dust off such moral evidence as that which Rabelais taught us nearly five centuries ago: 'Science without conscience is nothing but the ruin of the soul.'

"If we hadn't forgotten that Al-Qaeda's second-in-command is a doctor, the news would not have surprised us to this degree…

"The illusion that knowledge should be a sufficient bulwark against terrorism corresponds to that other mistake that manifests itself from time to time: that of believing that misery is the primary catalyst for terrorism. Misfortune certainly does often furnish the cannon fodder required by this ideology, but Islamist terrorism has had no lack of operatives from educated or wealthy backgrounds.

"A few decoys, put in place by the fundamentalist scheme, seem to be difficult to get rid of. This is the case with the idea that ignorance and poverty – because they weaken individuals and communities – constitute the sole ferment for terrorism.

"On the contrary: In Muslim countries, it is official education… that helps fanaticize the youth from among whom the sponsors of terrorism draw their ranks. They recruit among graduates in preaching, among engineers, and also among doctors…

"The persistent quest [to find] a non-violent Islamist lies at the origin of the invention of a 'moderate' Islamism. This attitude can be explained by the fearful refusal to confront Islamism, in its global and bellicose reality. The authorities always start out by fighting while in retreat, trying to disarm Islamism by promoting [its] purportedly 'moderate' spokesmen.

"Since the transition to an ideology of death is not always immediately accompanied by action, this tactic can deceive for a while. But the Islamist undertaking is, in reality, a point of moral rupture that has nothing to do with a simple political conversion…"[2]

Kurdish Journalist Tariq Hemo: The Western Countries Are Reaping the Harvest of Overly Liberal Immigration Policies

In a July 5 article on the liberal Elaph website, Tariq Hemo, a Kurdish journalist living in Germany, criticized Europe's immigration policies for being too liberal:

"…The Western countries are currently reaping, in these terrorists, what they sowed when they flung their doors open wide to every malevolent fundamentalist and failed in putting in place a mechanism for managing and controlling immigration in an appropriate manner…

"The West's generosity in allowing the organizations of political Islam to penetrate into Islamic societies [in Europe], spread among their youth, and enlist them in order to achieve their own ends and realize their agendas, was a mistake, and was the prelude that led to the appearance of these disastrous consequences now. He who sows the wind reaps the storm…

"The forces of political Islam that were chased out of the East… have control over a wide swath of Islamic societies in Europe. Things that are forbidden and are lines that cannot be crossed in Arab countries, and lead to the one who says them… being [kicked out] way beyond the sun, are permitted here in the West: fiery sermons and takfiri pamphlets, meetings that openly discuss overturning governments and hanging the rulers, the conditions of carrying out the death penalty against an apostate, and imposing the jizya [poll-tax] on the dhimmis…

"[Religious] reform and putting things right is a great and serious task, and the Arabs and Muslims cannot undertake this alone. It is necessary that help be given to all of the liberal reformist forces in the Arab and Islamic worlds in order for this project to succeed…"[3]

Khudayr Taher: Europe and America Should Deport All Muslims – Including Myself

Khudayr Taher, an Iraqi Shi'ite writer living in the U.S. and a regular contributor to the liberal Elaph website, had a quite illiberal suggestion – he asked why Europe and America shouldn't deport their Muslim populations. He wrote:

"Countries have the right to defend themselves and assure their citizens' safety from terrorism. Likewise, it is clear that the source of the terrorist crimes in Europe and America is the Muslims who live in these countries.

"The security services cannot know people's intentions and sort out who is the noble immigrant and who is a terrorist criminal. [But] wherever there are Muslims, their presence has produced crimes of terrorism and murder.

"Among those Muslims in Europe and America who do not practice terrorism, most of them do not have loyalty and sincere attachment to these countries that have offered them all of the means of life in dignity – housing, studies, work, and citizenship…

"The legitimate question is this: Since the security services cannot sort out the good immigrant from the bad terrorist… why don't these countries deport all Muslims, of all races, from Europe and America, and [thus] find rest from the danger of terrorism, and protect their peoples?

"I, as an Arab Muslim immigrant, sincerely call on the countries of Europe and America to deport all Muslims from their territories – including myself, despite my love and my sincere attachment to the U.S…"[4]


[1] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), July 5, 2007.

[2] Liberte (Algeria), July 4, 2007.

[3], July 5, 2007.

[4], July 4, 2007.

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