December 10, 2019 Special Dispatch No. 8404

Saudi Columnist On Saudi Cadet's Pensacola Airbase Attack: We Needn't Apologize For Every Terror Attack Carried Out By A Saudi National

December 10, 2019
Saudi Arabia | Special Dispatch No. 8404

The December 6, 2019 shooting at Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida, in which Saudi Royal Air Force 2nd Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, a student naval flight officer at Naval Aviation Schools Command, killed three and wounded eight,[1] aroused widespread condemnation in Saudi Arabia. That very day, Saudi King Salman, in a telephone conversation with U.S. President Donald Trump, expressed his condolences and stressed that Alshamrani did not represent the Saudi people, adding that they respect and honor the American people and that Saudi Arabia stands side by side with the U.S. The king also directed the Saudi security apparatuses to cooperate with their U.S. counterparts in the investigation of the case.[2]

Further condemnation, as well as condolences to the families of the victims and to the American people, were expressed by Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman[3] and other senior Saudi officials – including Defense Minister Khalid bin Salman, Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir, and Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. Princess Reema Bint Bandar Al-Saudi Arabia. Official Saudi bodies, including the General Secretariat of the Council of Senior Scholars, also condemned the attack.[4] In their statements, the senior officials reiterated that the Saudi shooter represented neither the country nor the Saudi people. Furthermore, the Arabic hashtag #The_Florida_criminal_does_not_represent_us went viral on Twitter.

In a response to the widespread official condemnation, Hamad Al-Majed, a lecturer at Al-Imam university in Riyadh and a member of the King 'Abdullah Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, wrote in his column in the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat that while Saudi Arabia should condemn the attack and work with the U.S. in its investigation, it should neither apologize nor exculpate itself. Under the headline "The Florida Crime – Condemnation Not Apology," he argued that an act by a single individual was not representative of his country, his religion or his people, and that therefore the Saudi people need not apologize for every crime committed by an individual Saudi, just as nobody expected the New Zealand people or its prime minister to apologize for the crime of the man who in March 2019 massacred dozens of Muslims at a mosque. Criticizing international circles and right-wing elements in the West, which he said have been harassing Saudi Arabia and Muslims generally since 9/11 with the aim of linking them to terrorism, he also criticized Arabs and Muslims who have adopted an apologetic stance vis-à-vis the West and who keep reiterating that Islam is innocent of terrorism.

Hamed Al-Majed (Source: /

Below are translated excerpts from Al-Majed's column:[5]

"It is the Saudis' right to object to being pushed into a corner [by the demand for] explanations and apologies every time one of them carries out a crime of terrorism or a criminal [act] – such as the terrible crime perpetrated in Florida by a Saudi officer who was a cadet [at Pensacola Naval Air Station for the past two years]. No one of minimal intelligence and decency would agree to someone else carrying the burden of another's sin.[6] Furthermore, adherents of all the [various] faiths and religions, all those who study humankind and anthropology – and even more so all those of sound mind... agree unanimously that religions, origins, and homelands should not be held responsible for crimes committed by an individual of [these] religions... these origins, or these homelands. Anyone generalizing in this way has an axe to grind[and] has a psychological or mental problem...

"When the New Zealand terrorist carried out his shocking terrorist crime, slaughtering dozens of worshippers at a Christchurch mosque,[7] not one person who belongs to the same religion, school of thought, origin, or country as he, apologized for the crime. Moreover, the New Zealand prime minister's position on the crime was received warmly and with great respect on the local and global levels – simply because she vehemently condemned the attack, expressed sincere solidarity with the victims of the terrorist crime, donning a hijab when she addressed them and when she met with the families of the victims. At the same time, she absolutely was not apologetic – and the same should be done with regard to the crime in Florida. It is enough for us to resolutely condemn it and cooperate with the American authorities to solve it...

"It is unfortunate that it is some circles in the West that are supported by institutions of the extreme right wing... that are leading the vulgar and unacceptable extortion of Saudis and their homeland, as well as of the Muslims and their religion. This evil extortionist attack escalated following the September 11 terrorist attacks, to the extent that those same right wing extremists and their supporters in the political and media circles began to hurl accusations at all of Saudi Arabia, ts religion, its doctrine, its senior officials, its official and popular institutions, its educational curricula, its education, and its mosques... [These elements] began to incite those harmed by the September 11 attacks to take action against the Saudi entity, and, to that end, recruited top law firms, which are searching in vain for trumped-up suspicions in order to legally prove their accusations against the entire [Saudi] entity – in an attempt to extort billions [from it] and to blacken its good name.

"It is also unfortunate that the pathetic apologetic stance has nearly become the hallmark of several of those who represent some of the Arab and Islamic countries and their official or popular institutions in international circles. I myself have participated in many conferences and conventions on interfaith and intercultural dialogue or human rights, at which the vast majority of participants... reiterated the same idea, [reused] the same texts, and [adhered to] the same pathetic apologetic line that focuses on referencing texts ranging from those absolving Islam of blame for terrorism to those demonstrating that Islam encourages the idea of dialogue. [In contrast,] when I examined [the statements] by the participants who were of other religions and faiths, I found that they focused on the topic of the conference, without referring to their religious literature and schools of thought, and without being apologetic, defeated, or in crisis [like the Arab and Muslim participants]."


[2] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), December 7, 2019. 

[3] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), December 10, 2019. 

[4], December 7, 2019.

[5] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), December 10, 2019. 

[6] From Quran 6:164: "...and no bearer of burdens shall be made to bear another's burden." This is repeated four times in the Quran.

[7] On March 15, 2019, Australian national Brenton Tarrant attacked worshippers at two mosques in Christchurch, killing 51 and wounding dozens more. See also MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7959, Reactions In Arab World To New Zealand Mosque Massacre: Accusations Of Islamophobia, Terrorism Against West, U.S., Alongside Calls For Joint Fight Against Extremism, March 25, 2019.

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