The following excerpts are from a TV debate with liberal Syrian author Nidhal Naisa, and Mauritanian intellectual Hamaullah Ould Salem, which aired on Al-Jazeera TV on March 29, 2010.
Nidhal Naisa: Dr. Faysal, nobody bothers to kick a dead cat. Unfortunately, the [Arabs], to some extent, are "dead cats." Who would even bother to give these dead cats a kick? They are good for nothing.
You cannot rely on them. They turn their backs on one another. They fight one another. Yesterday, an Arab summit was held, but eight leaders did not show up. They officially boycotted the summit. Some people say that the Arabs have contributed in some way to civilization, but their only contribution was the invention of the zero. Unfortunately, they remain at the zero phase and have not moved on. In fact, they remain below zero, and have not made any significant contribution to human civilization.
I am very happy and proud that the Arabs recently produced the largest plate of hummus, pickles, or tabouli salad. They had a dispute with Israel over who has the rights to the hummus. That is all they care about: fried pastries, pickles, baba ghanoush. This is what they are good at – cotton candy, shanklish, or beet kibbeh... Are you familiar with beet kibbeh?
TV host: We get the picture.
Hamaullah Ould Salem: He referred to the Arabs as cats and said that they are backwards. This is gutter talk, if you'll excuse my language. This does not indicate knowledge or mental stability. He talked about the invention of the zero. That's flogging a dead horse. The Arabs have progressed from the zero, and the zero also played a role...
Nidhal Naisa: Ould Salem, don't make this personal. Stick to the topic of the show.
TV host: But don't cut him off, please.
Nidhal Naisa: Mental stability?! We all know which of us is mentally stable.
TV host: Just don't cut him off.
Nidhal Naisa: From the way you talk, we can discern who is mentally stable and who isn't.
Hamaullah Ould Salem: You are talking from Ankara, not from Syria. You don’t have the courage to curse the Arabs from Syria. You cannot say such things among your own folk.
Nidhal Naisa: What's it to you if I don’t live in Syria?
Hamaullah Ould Salem: Allah knows. I don't know.