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memri
October 7, 2001 No.
282

Terror in America (13): Al-Hayat Columnist: 'The destruction of America is the destruction of the human dream' Al-Hayat Film critic: '…I felt shame reading the Egyptian press'

Muhammad Ali Farahat, a columnist for the Arabic London daily Al-Hayat, wrote in an article entitled "Our America," "…This is America: Their America and ours. [America is] an experiment in pluralism of cultures, races, and languages living in a great society under the rule of law. This experiment does not concern only Americans, but the entire world; the rapid steps of progress spur [America] to overcome the fanaticism of the past, leading it towards a new kind of tolerance based on interests and on the assumption that the Earth belongs to all…"[1]

"Perhaps the pluralistic American experiment is manifested in material power and military technology more than it is culturally, despite the active changes that the Americans have generated across the world through cinema, television, literature, and sports. But these changes constitute a basis of popular culture in the four corners of the earth…"

"The United States of America is a global experiment, regardless of its foreign policy which is sometimes idiotic and sometimes humanely sensitive. The American social experiment concerns the entire world. It presents man with a daily test: 'Will he agree to live in coexistence, or will he bring back the war-torn eras that have occurred since the beginning of creation?"'

"Accepting pluralism and actualizing it, requires a unique cultural and historic effort on the part of the Americans, as well as on the part of the rest of the peoples. Now, with the acts of terrorism in New York and Washington… begins the struggle over America – their America and ours – so that it becomes everyone's country, a pioneer in humane globalization instead of an isolationist center…"

"The Arabs have part of America, as do the other nations; they have participated and will continue to participate in shaping the American spirit together with the English, the Irish, the Greeks, the Russians, the Ukrainians, the Jews, the Chinese, the Indians, the Persians, and others too numerous to mention – all of whom came to a new country to begin a new life. All these [peoples] took what they liked from America, while preserving the heritage of their mother countries."

"The destruction of America is the destruction of the human dream across the world; the destruction of America is the cultural suffocation of man, freezing him in his place and in his heritage. America must seek a cultural path. It must [do this] to meet its society's needs for spiritual renewal, so as to add a human aspect to its material and technological progress. What America does not need is for the world to send people to hijack its planes and cast them, as human bombs, on buildings in which people are working."

"This [terrorist attack] is a crossroads. Our America is [more than the] idiotic [foreign] policy that sparks opposition from one people or another. America is the dream of the peoples; it is the paradigm to which the peoples lift up their eyes, and it is towards its light that the countries advance…"

In a letter to Al-Hayat's editor, Egyptian film critic Samir Farid communicated his appreciation of Farahat's article: "Blessings to the intellectual columnist Muhammad Ali Farahat, for his article…"[2]

"I say to Farahat that I felt ashamed while reading most, if not all, of the commentary [on the terrorist attacks], primarily in the Egyptian press. But your article somewhat alleviated this feeling… All that was lacking [in the Arab world following the attacks] were parades in the Arab towns and cities [whose marchers] call out the infamous and base motto, 'Our soul and our blood we will give to thee, Oh bin Laden.'"

"Most, if not all, of what I read proves that the poison of the undemocratic, military Arab regimes… has also entered the bloodstream of the [intellectual] 'elite'… These [people] no longer see the killing of innocents and destruction for its own sake as disgraceful."

"What murky future awaits this region of the world? When and how will it be possible to restore belief in freedom, respect for the individual, and respect for human life, as it was in the first half of the twentieth century? The phrase you wrote, Mr. Farahat – 'the destruction of America is the destruction of the human dream across the world' – is monumental. How right you are!"


[1] Al-Hayat, September 19, 2001.

[2] Al-Hayat, October 3, 2001.