August 23, 2002 Special Dispatch No. 414

The Metamorphosis of the Secretary of the Arab Psychiatrists Association

August 23, 2002
Egypt | Special Dispatch No. 414

Secretary of the Arab Psychiatrists Association Dr. Adel Sadeq, who also heads the Department of Mental Health at Ein Shams University in Cairo, is known for his extremist views. In an article and television interview in April 2002,[1] Dr. Sadeq praised suicide attacks, declared that the Arabs' goal was "to throw Israel into the sea," and "professionally" diagnosed U.S. President George W. Bush as "stupid."

It would seem that the uproar Dr. Sadeq sparked with his statements affected him profoundly. In a recent article in the Egyptian daily Hadith Al-Madina, he makes a complete change from his previous position:

"First of all, we must ask the Palestinian youth to stop the suicide operations. We, the psychiatrists, are opposed to suicide; actually, we treat [people who attempt] suicide and protect our [mentally] ill from suicidal thoughts."

"The politicians say that this is the only method in the hands of the man of struggle. But I say no. There are a thousand other ways, and it is inconceivable that killing oneself is the way of struggle. The clerics say that it is martyrdom, and that Allah has commanded us to die to defend the homeland, and I say no - martyrdom is not the premeditated killing of oneself, but going forth into battle as a mujaheed for the sake of Allah in order to fight the enemy, and at the same time protecting oneself from death. If he happens to be killed, he is a martyr, but he must not plan from the outset to be killed with dynamite."

"Second, we must oppose spilling the blood of innocent people, children, women, old people, and the sick, on both the Palestinian side and the Israeli side. We must not rejoice over the killing of an Israeli child or an Israeli teenage girl. The war must be waged only between fighters. The ugly game now going on - in which a young Palestinian blows himself up on an Israeli bus and innocent people die and then Israel responds by firing missiles on Palestinian homes and innocent people die - must cease, because it is an insane and hellish cycle."

"Third, the Arab psychiatrists must meet with the Israeli psychiatrists to examine how we should call for peace. We must support the peace movement in Israel and in Arab countries. I am convinced that the Israeli people and the Palestinian people do not want war; everyone wants peace. We, the psychiatrists, know how to talk to the people. We can call on them to oppose the enemies of peace on both sides."

"Fourth, we, the Arab psychiatrists, must talk to the people through the media and call on them to stop the suicide and to stop the killing of innocent people. We must call for peace and create public opinion that will pressure the rulers and the governments in order to persuade them to surrender to peace. I also call on Israeli psychiatrists to do likewise, to protect Israeli blood and Palestinian blood."

Dr. Sadeq's article was quoted by veteran journalist Hassaneyn Kuroum, who writes a daily review of the Egyptian press for the London-based Arabic daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi. Kuroum customarily calls supporters of normalization with Israel "the wretched ones" and praises any Egyptian columnist supporting suicide attacks. In the past, he has quoted from Dr. Sadeq's extremist articles. This time, he could not believe what he was reading: "This is a wondrous thing, and a tremendous blow from the director of the mental health department at Ein Shams University," wrote Kuroum.

"This is a completely new position on Adel Sadeq's part, and it completely contradicts what he has written in the past, as a psychiatrist and as a politician. I regret to say that this change - and only time will tell if I am right or wrong - is the beginning of [Sadeq's] participation in another government action towards creating contact with the Israelis and repeating the farce of 'removing the mental block' in which some in Egypt participated, such as Dr. Mahmoud Mahfouz, Abd Al-Azim Ramadhan, and Muhammad Sh'alan, at Camp David in 1978 - also at the government's direction. This is because of the Egyptian trend, that may also be the Jordanian and American [trend], of encouraging and supporting the [Israeli] Labor Party, toppling the Likud, and regaining the support of the peace groups by means of new people, who will be burned like the wretched ones [who have supported] normalization with Israel [in the past]. All these wretched ones, and their groups, are a product of the government, and are not independent at all. The only one who benefits from this game is Israel, because through it, it [Israel] managed to present its positions to the various media, while we did not gain the same, neither, propaganda in Israel, nor the information gathered by these wretched ones in Israel …" [2]

[1] {{nodeurl-SP37302}},

[2] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), August 17, 2002.

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