Monday, September 06, 2004

Not all Muslims Are terrorists but most Terrorists are ...

Siege Prompts Self-Criticism in Arab Media

Associated Press Writer

September 4, 2004, 12:37 PM EDT

CAIRO, Egypt -- Images of dead, wounded and traumatized Russian children being carried from the scene of a rebel school siege horrified Arabs, prompting forthright self-criticism Saturday and fresh concern about an international backlash against Islam and its followers.

Arab leaders, Muslim clerics and ordinary parents across the Middle East denounced the school siege that left more than 340 people dead, many of them children, as unjustifiable.

Some warned such actions damage Islam's image more than all its enemies could hope. Even some supporters of Islamic militancy condemned it, though at least one insisted Muslims were not behind it.

The hostage-takers were reportedly demanding the independence of the mostly Muslim Russian republic of Chechnya -- a caused embraced by Arab Islamists. "Holy warriors" from the Middle East long have supported Chechen fighters, and Russian officials said nine or 10 Arabs were among militants killed when commandos stormed the Beslan school in southern Russia on Friday.

Middle East security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was too early to know the nationalities of the Arabs among the dead militants. However, a prominent Arab journalist wrote that Muslims must acknowledge the painful fact that Muslims are the main perpetrators of terrorism.

"Our terrorist sons are an end-product of our corrupted culture," Abdulrahman al-Rashed, general manager of Al-Arabiya television, wrote in his daily column published in the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper. It ran under the headline, "The Painful Truth: All the World Terrorists are Muslims!"

Al-Rashed ran through a list of recent attacks by Islamic extremist groups -- in Russia, Iraq, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen -- many of which are influenced by the ideology of Osama bin Laden, the Saudi-born leader of the al-Qaida terror network.

"Most perpetrators of suicide operations in buses, schools and residential buildings around the world for the past 10 years have been Muslims," he wrote. Muslims will be unable to cleanse their image unless "we admit the scandalous facts," rather than offer condemnations or justifications.

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