February 21, 2003 No.

Egyptian Opposition Daily Condemns Suicide Martyrdom Operations

The Egyptian opposition daily Al-Wafd recently published an article titled "A Look at Martyrdom Operations," written by Egyptian attorney Ahmad Shawqi 'Iffat.[1] The following are excerpts from the article:

'All Our Problems …Are Examined By Way of Hypocrisy, Falsehood, and Caprices'

"It is the disease of our glorious Arab nation that all domestic and foreign problems are examined in only one way – the way of falsehood, hypocrisy, slogans, personal caprices, and all the other ills of the world. I will restrict myself here to one example, namely, the so-called martyrdom operations, in which a young Palestinian blows himself up among the enemy."

"No benefit comes to the Palestinian cause from these operations, on the contrary: They have caused, still cause, and will continue to cause grave human and material losses, because the enemy's revenge for each such operation is terrible… Furthermore, we have lost the sympathy of the world, which, because of these operations, saw us as terrorists and murderers deserving nothing short of the severest of punishments."

"Considering all this, can any reasonable person accept the continuation of such operations, while there is no spark of hope, in the short or long range, that through these actions a solution will be found for the Palestinian problem?"

"However, our glorious Arab nation – whether out of lack of knowledge, willful ignorance, hypocrisy, indifference, lack of awareness, or any other shortcoming – finds no fault in continuing [these operations]. All that occupies the minds of many of the Arab clerics, intellectuals, and politicians, in their symposia, interviews, and speeches, is the [semantic] question of whether these operations should be considered martyrdom or suicide. A number of fatwas have been issued on this matter, and some[2] claimed that these were not to be considered martyrdom operations because they targeted civilians, not military personnel. But afterwards they reneged on this position, and argued that they were nevertheless considered martyrdom operations."

"By Allah, It is A Shame: Young, Innocent People are Killing Themselves"

"Officially, the Palestinian Authority said it did not approve of killing civilians on both sides, Palestinian or Israeli, and did not define these operations as either martyrdom or suicide. In this way, the [Muslim-Arab] nation occupied itself with this sterile discussion, which ultimately concluded that these must be considered martyrdom operations, and every living person must use this adjective when referring to them – and thinking otherwise was forbidden… Nobody asked himself, 'What next?' Isn't this the best proof that we are a nation of wretched people?"

"I believe the time has long since come to discuss the issue of these operations with the appropriate gravity, not simplistically and superficially, as they have been discussed to date. By Allah, it is a shame: Young, innocent people are killing themselves out of good intentions. These operations cause terrible losses of property, livelihood, and life."

"Can't We Find a Way Other Than Martyrdom Operations That Have Caused Us All This Unbearable Damage?"

"We must ask ourselves first whether these operations are of any benefit. Some, whose thinking is devoid of rationality, claim that they are highly beneficial because they signal to the world that the Palestinian people is alive – it has not died and will not die. Terrific! What brilliant thinking there is in the Arab world!"

"Has anyone claimed or can anyone claim that the Palestinian people is dead, while it has been struggling for its cause for over half a century, and will continue to struggle until the Day of Judgment… Oh, geniuses of bygone days, if we want to send a message that the Palestinian people is alive, can't we find a way other than martyrdom operations, that have caused us all this unbearable damage? Can't your minds come up with another way of sending a message to the world – if in fact it really needs to be informed that we are alive, as your shameful sterile thinking suggests?"

"Furthermore, I think – and there are many others like me who aren't [saying] – that these are not martyrdom operations – although superficially it would appear that there is something like consensus among the clerics that they are, because 'whoever is killed while fighting Jihad is a martyr.' I believe that those killed by the enemy in battle, even if armed with only a stone, are martyrs. I don't know whether they did not notice it, or intentionally ignored it, but the form [of the verb] in 'whoever is killed' is passive, meaning 'killed' by someone else, not by his-own hand." "Honored gentlemen: Have you any other knowledge to persuade us to think otherwise? If you have, let's hear it, to make us regret what we have said and apologize. But if you haven't, then you should repent, and ask God's forgiveness."