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memri
August 24, 2004 No.
770

Former Kuwaiti Communications Minister: Zionism and Imperialism have Nothing to do with Our Culture of Violence

Journalist and former Kuwaiti communications minister Dr. Sa'ad bin Tefla was interviewed on Jordanian television about the culture of violence in Arab countries. Dr. bin Tefla rejected the notion that this can be blamed on Israel or the U.S.,, and instead blamed cultural roots, frustration, religious extremism, and intra-Arab violence.The following are excerpts from the interview: [1]

'The Spread of the Extremist Religious Trend Intensifies the Frustration of the Young'

"… Slaughter, destructive abuse, anarchy, and bloodshed in no way resemble Jihad according to Shari'a and resistance. These are anarchy and terrorism [and not Jihad ], and they are indications of frustration and of a culture of collective suicide reminiscent of whales.

"This culture emanates from objective and personal reasons. But I maintain there is another reason for it … and that is the spread of the extremist religious trend that intensifies the frustration of the young people because it tells them, 'You must obtain [one of] two things – martyrdom or victory.' [This trend] beautifies the culture of violence and portrays it as resistance and Jihad. But the idea of Jihad in Islam is innocent of these acts. I maintain that we must reexamine this culture…

"I maintain that unfortunately many in television, radio, and the press act according to the story of the one who murders and than attends the funeral of the victim. It is they who have pushed these young people into frustration and caused them to die for nothing and kill others with them, and to divide the world into black and white. I maintain that we are all responsible for this culture, and that Zionism and imperialism have nothing to do with it…"

'It is Wrong to Say that Violence is the Result of Occupation'

"It is wrong to say that violence is the result of occupation. The French occupation left Algeria after a million fell, and then within less than a decade 10,000 Algerians were butchered in Algeria by other Algerians in the name of Islam – that is more than even Israel could have butchered during the period of the Intifada.

"The words 'assassination' and 'political violence' are Arabic words, lent to all the languages of the world. I say this as an academic linguist. The root of the word 'assassination' is the word ' hashashiyoun,' the name of Hassan Al-Sabah's group that came from Isfahan in the 13th century.

"This violence has cultural roots, and is unconnected to the occupation. And there are those who justify it. I do not want it to be understood in any way from my words that I am defending and justifying the occupation. But I say that this logic, which I reject, is [used] as justification to the [violence] that takes place in Iraq and in other places."

'The Number Killed in Algeria and Killed by Other Arab Regimes Surpasses the Number of Palestinians Killed by Israel'

"Iraq was occupied [by the U.S.] a year ago. [However], before that, there was violence in Iraq that killed over one million Iraqis, Iranians, Kurds, Kuwaitis, and others. This was not done by the Zionists, the occupation, or America. This was done by Arabs and Muslims of Baghdad.

"The number killed in Algeria and killed by other Arab regimes surpasses the number of Palestinians killed by Israel. Those who were slaughtered in Saudi Arabia a few days ago were peaceful Muslims who were walking in the street… There is no occupation in Saudi Arabia, no American bases, no American presence or American army…

"I maintain that there is, unfortunately, a culture of violence that existed before the Americans came to Iraq and the Gulf, even before the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and before the American occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq.

"In my opinion, it is [precisely] this comprehensive logic that is harming these young people and making them think there was [once] a good [Islamic] empire reaching from China in the East to Andalusia [in the west], including Chechnya…"


[1] Jordanian TV, June 8, 2004.