Monday, October 17, 2005

Al-Jezeera as a propoganda organ

Last week I cited a couple of Western sources proposing that Al-Jezeera is an important contributor to a vigorous public debate in the Arab world and therefore a force for a pluralistic, therefore more open and potentially democratic, society. Today John Burgess points to a MEMRI "catch" by a Saudi journalist that does not agree.

Everybody knows that this channel in particular has had the greatest media impact on the shaping, spreading, and strengthening of this dangerous trend, and that it provides it with wide space to express its 'acts of heroism', its statements, and its videotaped operations, to the point where it [Al-Jazeera] has become the primary platform of [Al-Salafiyya Al-Jihadiyya], as is happening today in Iraq.
The main topic of this piece is the corruption of Islam by terror-practicing extremists which he compares with the Nazis of WWII.

Putting an end to terrorism is only possible by putting an end to the ideology that plants it in our society. A security solution is not sufficient, though it is certainly required… He [Al-Maqdisi] preaches takfir [accusing other Muslims of apostasy] and terrorism out of purely political motives – out of an understanding, an inner conviction, premeditation and planning… Al-Salafiyya Al-Jihadiyya... should be dealt with exactly as the Europeans dealt with the Nazis, and as our forefathers dealt with the ideology of the Khawarij.

In my opinion, the ideology of Al-Salafiyya Al-Jihadiyya is very similar to Nazism in terms of its causes and reasons. If the economic depression and the state of frustration that befell the world in 1930 were a cause for the spread of murderous Nazism, it may be said that the economic and cultural setback that has befallen the Arab and Muslim countries and the frustration suffered by Muslims today are also the primary cause for this murderous ideology [i.e., that of Al-Salafiyya Al-Jihadiyya].These [circumstances] allow it to surface and to find followers and supporters among the Muslims. In addition, both ideologies share hatred of the other and [the goal of] eliminating through his physical extermination – and they have many other common denominators as well."

Burgess' comments are as helpful as the article. The more I read about circumstances in the Middle East, the less I seem to understand. The nuances of Islam are far more elaborate than most people know, and I am beginning to think that includes most of those who claim to be faithful followers of the Prophet. (And I can't say that most ordinary Christians understand their own faith any better.)
He also provides a useful term, “Jihadist Salafist,” to help identify where the problems really lie. The terms “Salafist” or “Wahhabi” are no longer useful tags when it comes to identifying the sources of terror. There are legitimate Salafist and Wahhabi religious tendencies, not aligned to terrorism, though whether or not they are “extremist” is a matter of opinion and debate. Like the term “Neo-Salafist,” coined by Anthony Cordesman of CSIS, it serves to clearly and usefully distinquish an important difference.

Aal Al-Sheikh, whose name indicates that he’s from the lineage originating with Muhammad Abdul Wahhab...points to Al-Jazeera TV as a promoter and supporter of Jihadist Salafism...

Neither of these pieces is long.
Both should be read.

1 comment:

John said...

Thanks for the links!

I have to say, though, that as bad as Al-Jazeera TV is, it's not all bad. I has and continues to provide a unique Arab voice in discussing Arab issues. With some exceptions, it will generally take on Arab governments in a way that is utterly taboo to government-owned or -guided media, ruffling a lot of feathers in doing so.

I think it does have an unfortunate political bias, but more to its detriment is a lack of professionalism that allows it to get sucked into the wrong side of a story without the ability to back out of it.

Equally OT: I find Grotian Moment Blog very interesting. I don't know the principals running the blog, but it definitely appears to be an evenhanded look at the legal issues in play with the Saddam Hussein trial. After a brief reading of several articles, it's perhaps a bit too legalistic, but I guess that comes with the territory. Personally, I think US Supreme Court orders and decisions are more clearly written.