memri

October 11, 2004
Clip No.
286

Al-Jazeera TV Presenter, Faysal Al-Qassem: Arab History is a History of Blood and Slaughter

The following are excerpts from an interview with Al-Jazeera TV presenter Faysal Al-Qassem:

Dr. Faysal Al-Qassem: Unfortunately, we Arabs have a problem. In English they say, "Holier than thou," meaning we always boast of our culture and moral values, as though we have no use for this kind of (talk) shows because we are more advanced. I ask these people who accuse us of demagogy: Look at Arab history, from pre-Islamic times until today. It is a history of blood and slaughter. Three of the first four Caliphs were slaughtered and the fourth, it has been claimed, was poisoned. As for the leaders of the Umayyad and Abbasid eras, the situation is similar… In our Arab culture we have no "former presidents" - except in Lebanon.

This is a culture based on conflict and slaughter. We Arabs were used to resolving most of our disagreements with bullets, fire, iron, and so on. Let's resolve them, for a change…

Interviewer: With dialogue…

Dr. Faysal Al-Qassem: Let's resolve them with screams. Let's scream at one another, it's much easier and cheaper than fighting. What do you expect of the Arab world? The Arab world is subjugated and oppressed. A senior Arab journalist once said: "A person places his hand over your mouth for 50 years and suddenly removes it. What do they expect? That you will explode and say many things."

We don't have a culture of dialogue. It was very difficult for us, when we just started, to find people who would sit next to one another. Second, the Arab people is oppressed and cannot talk about the price of radishes, lettuce, and rotten potatoes without permission from security and intelligence agencies because it could endanger the so-called national security. You can't even talk about the prices of food. They prevent this from you. Therefore, there is a shortage of people willing to talk about crucial issues.