October 20, 2004 Special Dispatch No. 803

Lebanese Progressive Intellectual: 'The Calamities of Contemporary Arab Culture are Largely Due to the Egyptian Media and Intellectual Community'

October 20, 2004
Egypt, Lebanon | Special Dispatch No. 803

Dr. Ihsan Al-Tarabulsi, a Lebanese writer living in the U.S., published an article on the progressive Arabic website, blaming the Egyptian media and the Egyptian intellectual community for contributing to the ills of the Arab world. He accused them of supporting the dictatorial Arab regimes and of propagating extremist nationalist and religious attitudes, as well as terrorism. The following are excerpts from the article: [1]

'The Egyptian Intellectual Community has been Corrupted by Petroleum Money from Saddam Hussein and the Gulf States'

"There is no doubt that one of the calamities of the Arab media stems, to a large extent, from the raucous Egyptian media, as it emerged after 1956, and whose [influence] spread throughout most of the Arab media – written, broadcast, and televised. The expression 'heaping abuse by the media' is a very well known, specifically Egyptian, expression that has entered the lexicon of inferior Arab media. [2] There is no doubt that the Egyptian media – through many of its people, who have entered [positions] throughout the Arab media – have played a large role in causing the backwardness and decline of the Arab media, to their current low level.

"There is no doubt that one of the calamities of contemporary Arab culture – after the generation of Taha Hussein, Al-'Aqqad, Al-Hakim, Najib Mahfuz, and Luwis 'Awad, and, subsequently, the generation of Ghali Shukri, Khalid Mohammad Khalid, Jamal Al-Bana, and Sayyid Al-Qumni, and others of Egypt's men of reason – is largely due to the [influence of the] Egyptian intellectual [community's] positions vis-à-vis the pan-Arab causes, be they political or religious. It [i.e., the Egyptian intellectual community] has been corrupted by the petroleum money which flowed to it, whether from Saddam Hussein, on the nationalistic [pan-Arab] side, or from some of the Persian Gulf states, on the religious fundamentalist side. This way, both nationalist and religious fundamentalists have become mortgaged to the nationalist and the religious salafi petroleum dollars.

"The Egyptian media and the Egyptian intellectual community are both largely responsible for promoting the political and military dictatorship represented by the regime of [Gamal] Abd-Al Nasser and subsequent regimes. Both promoted the deification of 'the leader,' 'the hero,' 'the commander,' 'the [historic] necessity,' 'the gate-keeper' who can never do wrong. And if he does wrong, he should not be held accountable or punished, as is the custom of the followers of the sunna [prophetic tradition]."

'The Egyptian Media is Largely Responsible for the Plight of the Palestinians'

"The Egyptian media and the Egyptian intellectual community are largely the primary causes of the plight of the Palestinians, through their emotional, irrational, unrealistic, bewailing, populistic, and sloganistic positions toward the Palestinian Intifadas, from which the Palestinians have gained nothing but losses – in territory, property, and life – and a negative international reputation, and a loss of the sympathy of world public opinion, as we see today.

"Look what the Palestinian cause has come to: A cluster of fundamentalist, nationalist, and religious hollow slogans, which do not feed bread to the hungry Palestinians, and do not clothe the naked Palestinians, and do not liberate any territory for the Palestinians. The great Palestinian cause has now been reduced to the two fingers of Yasser Arafat, the captive president, raised in false illusionary victory. And these two Arafatic fingers, raised from time to time, are nothing but a sign that the Palestinians have suffered utter defeat and that the Palestinian Authority has gained the stolen money."

Egyptian Intellectuals and Journalists Help Propagate Terrorism

"The Egyptian media and the Egyptian intellectual community are among the primary causes of the alarming proliferation of the gnats, mosquitoes, and viruses of terrorism, which has placed the Arabs at the basest level and on the lowest rung of progress, civilization, and human treatment of various issues. Look at what kind of Fatwas are issued by some sheikhs of Al-Azhar and other Egyptian sheikhs in the Gulf states and elsewhere, with regard to the terrorism now occurring in Palestine, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, and other countries. They sell these terrorists documents of indulgence and martyrdom. [They sell them] prime tickets to paradise and marriage and incessant intercourse with the virgin Houris, as though the brains of the Arabs are not in their heads, but in their genitals.

"Read what most of the Egyptian establishment journalists, such as Fahmi Huweidi, Samir Rajab, and others, write about the terrorist acts in Palestine, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Algeria. They announce to the Arabs an imminent victory, such as the victory of Yasser Arafat and before him of [Gamal] Abd-Al Nasser and Saddam Hussein and a whole host of Arab dictators. Look at what most of the Egyptian intellectuals say on Egyptian television and on Arab satellite TV channels, commenting on events in Iraq, Palestine, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.

"Have you heard the views of the Egyptian intellectuals about what happened in the catastrophe of September 11, 2001? The most prominent of them, [Muhammad Hassanein] Haykal, the one who taught them witchcraft, [3] said that this was the work of the Serbs. Fahmi Huweidi, their learned jurist, said that this was the work of the Mossad. Mustafa Mahmoud, the most dim-witted among them, said that this was the work of the American Seventh-Day Adventists. And Mustafa Al-Faqih, the craziest among them, said that it was planned by the American CIA. And Anis Mansour, their buffoon, said that it was the work of genies and devils. This is the stupidity to top all stupidity, the buffoonery to top all buffoonery, the trickery to top all trickery, in the manner of Isma'il Yasin, Samir Ghanim, Sha'ban 'Abd Al-Rahim, Mustafa Al-Bakri, Sayyid Nassar, Tal'at Rumeih, and 'Isam Al-'Aryan and other buffoons of the infamous pan-Arab era."

Egyptian Journalists Continue to Idolize Saddam Hussein

"Have you heard that Sayyid Nassar, Tal'at Rumeih, Mustafa Al-Bakri, 'Isam Al-'Aryan, and other great Egyptian buffoons, with blown-up cheeks and mouths agape, with foam spouting like the hyena's saliva, have appeared on the screens of Arab satellite TV, continuing to refer to Saddam Hussein as a hero and a hidden martyr, [4] and expressing support for the so-called 'Iraqi resistance'…

"Recently, in Luxor, the 'heroic' Egyptian intellectuals continued to support terrorism in Iraq. 200 Egyptian intellectuals sent 'revolutionary' warm salutations to what they call Iraqi 'resistance,' at the opening session of their annual conference on September 29, 2004. They expressed the hope that Iraq would turn into another Vietnam. The motto of their conference was 'Reform from an Intellectual Point of View.' Thus, reform, according to these Egyptian intellectuals, is supporting terrorism and turning Iraq into another Vietnam…"

'The Occupation of Iraq has Put Down a Dictator and Liberated the People - For the First Time in Arab History, this Conquest is a Divine, Blessed One'

"My greatest censure is directed toward those intellectuals who have turned into hyenas of the wild, such as Hamid 'Ammar, Ahmad Abu Zeid, Mahmoud Isma'il, Nabila Ibrahim, Farida Al-Naqqash, Sami Khashabeh, Qasim 'Abduh Qasim, Mustafa Rajab, Naji Fawzi, Shibl Badran, Muhammad Al-Sayyid Sa'id, and others – they are the ones whom we used to consider the open, modern, liberal, enlightened Egyptian left. Now the fig leaf has been removed from all, and the real nature of both the Egyptian right-wing and the Egyptian left-wing has been exposed…

"It is not enough that some Egyptians are the creators of empty slogans – 'No voice should be higher than the voice of battle' – and of 'ten nays against peace and one million ayes for war,' of which they are incapable, and for 'desirable terrorism,' as it is called by Qaradhawi Basha [5]

"It is not enough that Egypt is the cause of the growth of unemployment in the Arab world and is the cause of the demographic explosion which has wreaked havoc and is the cause of the pull-out of Arab and foreign investment because of the terrible corruption in Egypt.

"As if all this is not enough, Egypt is adding the calamities embodied in the attitudes of some of its intellectuals and journalists regarding Iraq and Palestine.

"There is not one reasonable voice, either religious fundamentalist or pan-Arab nationalist, coming out of Egypt now, to say the truth and to address reason vis-à-vis these waves of Egyptian intellectual and journalistic tyranny, which we observe day and night – with the exception of very few quiet and timid voices….

"The occupation that occurred in Iraq has put down a dictator and liberated the people. For the first time in the Arabs' long history, this conquest is indeed a divine, blessed one, brought by the heavens after the earth failed to realize it. It is a sign of mercy from the Lord of the universe to the Iraqi people, without which it would have remained under the boots of dictatorship for centuries…"

[1], October 3, 2004.

[2] The term radh, used by the writer, is a term in Egyptian colloquial Arabic signifying 'foul-mouthed abuse.'

[3] An ironic allusion to Pharaoh's sorcerers mentioned in the Koran (20:71).

[4] The epithet al-shahid al-mughayyab ('the hidden martyr') is an allusion to the Shi'ite term 'the hidden Imam.'

[5] The writer uses the old title basha ironically in reference to the well-known Islamist cleric Sheikh Yousef Qaradhawi.

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