November 5, 2015 Special Dispatch No. 6208

Arab Media Criticizes Gloating Over Russian Plane Crash In Sinai

November 5, 2015
Special Dispatch No. 6208

In the aftermath of the crash of Russian Metrojet flight 9268 in Sinai, Arab media reported on gloating responses on social media by various figures, mostly associated with the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and the Salafi stream, who oppose Russia's military involvement in Syria. The gloating posts received much attention on social media, being shared and "liked" by many, but also evoking harsh criticism and recriminations. Following the lively debate on the issue on social media, several articles in the Arab press likewise condemned the gloating.

The following are several of the gloating social media posts and from the condemning articles.

Gloating On Social Media

The Arab press published several reports on the gloating on social media over the Russian plane crash, in which all 224 passengers and crew were killed. The Egyptian daily Al-Yawm Al-Sabi' reported, under the title "Muslim Brotherhood Supporters Gloat over the Russian Plane Incident," on a Facebook post by Mamdouh Ismail, a former member of parliament from the MB, who wrote: "Yesterday the Russians used their planes to kill 150 of our people in Aleppo in a horrifying massacre, while Muslims looked on and did nothing. Today a Russian plane crashed, and its 220 passengers burned to death... Allah akbar."[1], October 31, 2015

The Abu Dhabi website reported on tweets by Kuwaiti Salafi Sheikh 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Nassar, who wrote: "Praise God and thank God. The Russian plane crashed in Sinai and all its passengers were Russians." Another tweet by him read: "Anyone sad for the plane crash because there were children on board would have known, had they possessed religious knowledge, that the death of those children was preferable to them likely receiving an Orthodox [Christian] upbringing."[2]

Alongside shares and likes of these gloating posts, they also met with harsh criticism. Thus, for example, Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi responded to the Kuwaiti sheikh's tweets by writing on his own twitter page: "Allah help us, what kind of despicable logic is this[?]"[3]

Qatari Columnist: Gloating Is A Sign Of Weakness, Not Strength

The reports about the gloating on social media prompted articles in the Arab press condemning this phenomenon. For example, columnist Reem Al-Harmi wrote in the Qatari daily Al-Raya: "Some societies are sustained by a culture of gloating and love of vengeance at the disasters, or even death, of others. There are those who are glad of the disaster, welcome it, and even see it as a solution to their problems and as justice for the rivals of the people whom the calamity afflicted. Undoubtedly, finding comfort in the disasters of others and viewing these disasters as 'divine punishment' are unacceptable both religiously and rationally...

"Last week when the Russian plane crashed or was downed over the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt with 224 souls on board, some were quick to gloat and saw the event as just vengeance by God for Russia's involvement in Syria and the aid that Russia gives to Bashar [Al-Assad] by bombing Syrian civilians and children... Some were also quick to believe ISIS's claim that it had brought down the Russian passenger jet... and supported this version of events. Justifying ISIS actions due to the gross tyranny of the criminal Al-Assad regime is illogical, as is defending ISIS...

"Finding comfort in the death of others, the psychology of revenge, and the urge to gloat... are not causes for joy. As fate had it, those people were Russian citizens and their government had decided to support Assad. Maybe some of them opposed this, assuming they were even interested in their country's foreign policy.

"This culture of transforming death, with all the reverence it should inspire, into a cause for joy for us -especially when those killed are innocent - is a sign of weakness, not strength. When we cannot solve our own problems, we do nothing, [but rather] rely on others, waiting for something to happen or for them to solve our standing problems for us, [and] even death or killing are possible solutions...

"The culture of death and the psychology of revenge are a disaster that [should] send warning signals through our society, especially among those who foster such ideas, which then become acts that could spawn ISIS-like people or deranged individuals: people who do not consider religion or law to be a deterrent against committing any crime because, in their eyes, all crimes and acts are justified."[4]

Columnists: Gloating Contradicts The Compassion That All People Should Feel For Each Other

Egyptian columnist Siham Al-Basha condemned the gloating in an article in Al-Yawm Al-Sabi': "If [we] believe that any tragic event that befalls non-Muslims citizens is revenge by God, then ours must be the nations that anger God the most, and that will continue to be afflicted by disasters. It [also] follows that infidel Westerners are entitled to think that the crane collapsing in the holy compound in Mecca and falling on pilgrims on September 11 this year was [divine] vengeance for the death of their relatives in the attack on the World Trade Center...

"Why do we make these inappropriate comparisons? We are all sad [at the events in] Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, and Afghanistan. We do not like destruction and killing, regardless of its reasons or perpetrators. Anyone who thinks that divine fate is revenge upon the innocents is committing an injustice, and a grave one at that. People, be compassionate! Have compassion for great and small! Have compassion for humanity! Have compassion so that others will have compassion for you!"[5]

Shafi'i Saudi jurisprudent Al-Sayyid 'Abdallah Fadaaq wrote in the paper Al-Ru'ya on November 4, 2015: "The crash of the Russian plane several days ago sparked despicable feelings of vengeance in groups that wrapped their sickening sentiments of resentment in an Islamic package... [These are] sick minds. No, by Allah, they are more than that. These are ignorant [minds] if they speak these words that are unacceptable to say or even think. We know that, from a religious perspective, gloating over the troubles of others contradicts the compassion that people should have for each other... I say to all those who gloat: If you claim this is part of the religion, then you are wrong, by Allah. This is part of you, o greatest of hypocrites. If you want, read the words of Allah [in the Koran], and especially Surat Aal 'Imran, verse 120: 'If good touches you, it distresses them; but if harm strikes you, they rejoice at it. And if you are patient and fear Allah, their plot will not harm you at all. Indeed, Allah is encompassing of what they do.' In conclusion, political differences must not be devoid of human principles."[6]



[1] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi' (Egypt), November 1, 2015.

[2], October 31, 2015.

[3], October 31, 2015.

[4] Al-Raya (Qatar), November 4, 2015.

[5] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi' (Egypt), November 1, 2015.

[6] Al-Ru'ya (UAE), November 4, 2015.

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