[Note by Tom Gross]
This analysis is based on 55 newspaper reports from 20 countries, published between October 16-23, 2003. These editorial excerpts were not compiled by myself. They may be too detailed for many of you, but the Mideast specialists on this list may wish to glance through them. They include "Message That The West Distorted" (the English-language "Malaysian Star"), to "Anti-Semitic Scandal" (the reformist Russian paper, "Izvestiya"), "Suicidal Rhetoric" (the liberal Polish paper, "Gazeta Wyborcza" - whose editorial staff are subscribers to this email list), and "Anti-Semitic Speech" (the Brazilian paper "Folha de S. Paulo").
-- Tom Gross
OIC SUMMIT THE ISLAMIC WORLD NEEDS UNITY, CHANGE
October 24, 2003
NOTE This analysis is based on 55 reports from 20 countries, October 16-23, 2003. Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date
** The Islamic press highlights the "frustration and despair" in the Islamic world.
** Mahathir's speech provokes a "hue and cry" but Muslims say its message was "distorted."
** Islamic dailies say Muslims must "unite and increase their capabilities."
'Troubled times for the Muslim ummah'-- The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) summit in Malaysia Oct.16-18 opened with the world's Muslim press expounding on "the atmosphere of despair and despondency in the Arab and Islamic world." The position of the Islamic peoples "has never been so weak as it is now." The "frustrations and anger of Muslims around the world were palpable" among OIC delegates, said Egypt's leading, pro-government Al-Ahram. Bangladesh's English-language Daily Star spoke for many by protesting that in addition to Muslims being afflicted by "poverty, dispossession and oppression," Islam is also "vilified around the world as a religion of terror." Papers in Egypt, Syria, Turkey and Bangladesh complained the OIC "has never played its role to the full potential" and said it needs "restructuring and new policies that can answer today's problems."
Mahathir's speech 'distorted' by West-- European, Israeli and Latin dailies said Malaysian PM Mahathir's "absurd" comment that "Jews rule the world" were "dangerous and prejudicial" and the kind of "poisoned language" that "fuels terrorism." Singapore's pro-government Straits Times called it "a pity" that Mahathir's "needlessly provocative rhetoric" distracted attention from the "groundbreaking" elements of his address, which called upon Muslims "to shun violence" in pursuit of their aims. The world's Muslim press held that "most Western media conveniently ignored" that Mahathir had said "Muslims should make peace" without violence in Palestine and that the kernel of his message was that Muslims should emulate the success of the Jewish people by "pulling together, working hard and planning for the future." Some outlets, like Pakistan's centrist national The News, claimed Mahathir's comments on the Jews were "not a desecration, but a statement of historic fact."
Muslim writers see the need for a course correction-- Analysts in the Islamic press pointed to the need for "introspection" to find the path to "modernize and provide economic, political and human rights to the Muslim ummah." Too many OIC countries are "dictatorships or despotisms" as well as "economic backwaters." Providing for the human and political rights of Muslims "is the OIC's historical mission." Many dailies echoed Mahathir's call to "emphasize education and science" to overcome the Muslim world's "backwardness." The Islamic community "must work very hard to grasp again the glory" of its past, declared Jakarta's independent Media Indonesia. "This can only be done with high-quality education, not with violence." Moderate dailies in Saudi Arabia highlighted the need for Muslims to "collectively and individually" fight terrorism, "which has deformed the image of Islam."
"Summit of Frustration"
Attiyah Isawi commented in leading pro-government Al-Ahram (10/20) If it were not for the tempest resulting from the statements made by Mahatir Muhammad, the Malaysian prime minister that Jews ruled the world by proxy and wanted people to kill and die for them, humanity would have never even heard that the OIC summit was in session. Many are the summits, meetings and conferences held in the third world. They convene and conclude uselessly. Thus, people know in advance their outcome, and deep down wish that the leaders saved the money spent on their participation. No sooner had Mahatir bitterly said, 'how can 1.3 billion Muslims stand helplessly vis-à-vis a few million Jews who rule the world and want others to sacrifice their lives for them,' that America, Israel and the EU hastened to accuse him of anti-Semitism. True to their habit, they pounce on whoever dares to criticize Israel's behavior and that of its allies in Washington and Europe.... It seems that the man wanted to say what he said, which was largely true, not caring for the Zionist reaction, because he will be stepping down voluntarily anyway, after 20 years during which he made his country into one of the economic tigers.
"As expected, the summit hosted by his country ended with a handful of rhetorical decisions, none of which carried a single position that maintained Muslims' dignity, rights or reinforced economic relations between their countries to reduce their reliance on the west, especially the United States and sometimes Israel. Both attack the rights and sovereignty of Islamic states and occupy their territories.... To that extent, Islamic states were unable to do anything to maintain their dignity, rights, and not become the doormat that all nations use to wipe their feet, despite their great numbers is like the scum rejected by the flood. Why would they not try once to withdraw their ambassadors from Israel or America in solidarity with the peoples of Palestine, Iraq or Afghanistan? Why did they not boycott the British, Israeli and U.S. firms, expel the ambassadors of Israel or at least freeze cultural relations? The answer may be that they do not control their decision. Each needs America and perhaps Israel, either to receive economic aid from them and the international financing institutions controlled by Washington, to acquire U.S. weapons or help their rulers stay in power. He, who cannot grow his own food, cannot control his decision. Well said indeed!"
"Turmoil Lies Ahead"
Leading pro-government Al-Ahram weekly remarked (Internet version, 10/16) "The frustrations and anger of Muslims around the world were palpable as delegates at the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) summit meeting in the new Malaysian capital Putrajaya complained that, in Kashmir, Chechnya, Palestine and Iraq, Muslim people and territories are occupied, sanctioned, threatened, and accused of sponsoring terror. This atmosphere of despair and despondency in the Arab and Islamic world should not be permitted to linger long. It will only create more trouble, more tension, and threaten international peace and political stability in the region."
"Mahathir's Charming Message"
The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (10/19) "That anti-Semitism is alive and well is no longer news.... It is also no longer news that the evil that was created by medieval Christianity and perfected by secular Europe now dominates the thinking not just of the Arab world, but the Muslim one.... Fortunately for everyone, Mahathir's nasty reign ends this month, which is about 22 years too late. Whether his legacy of hysterical anti-Semitism and conspiracy-mongering survives him will depend on his hand-picked successor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Badawi should be asking himself whether he wants to steer Malaysia in the direction of the Asian world or of the Muslim one--that is, toward democracy, prosperity, and pluralism, or toward fascism, poverty, and intolerance. One and one-third billion Muslims live in relative poverty not because they are shackled by a few million Jews, but because they think they are shackled. The sooner they free their minds from this fantasy, the quicker the progress they'll make."
"Who Protects Ideology Of Hate?"
Riyadh's conservative, Al-Riyadh editorialized (10/21) "If the West actually wanted to create an atmosphere of (religious) tolerance it would set an example by fighting statements which instigate terrorism. Comparing what Mahathir Mohammed said with the remarks of an American official [General Boykin], who reflected an irresponsible and barbaric attitude, we must ask how such an official keeps his job in a government which has declared war on terrorism."
"Justifications For Attacking Mahathir"
Jeddah's moderate Al-Bilad argued (10/21) "President Bush went over the limit when he criticized the Malaysian prime minister publicly and personally. [Bush] failed to justify his attack; he could have ignored the remarks or dealt with them diplomatically, rather than in the media. The campaign against Mahathir shows that a storm of anger awaits any Muslim nation that tries to develop even a moderate position."
"Muslims And Coexistence With The World"
Dammam's moderate Al-Yaum opined (10/20) "All of a sudden, Muslims who were well known for their long history of tolerance, kind-heartedness and honesty among human societies, have suddenly turned into killers and terrorists. This would never have happened if it were not for the stupid, reckless and radical actions of those deviant groups.... The doctrine of Islamic nations stresses security, stability and prosperity among all human communities with no exceptions, all Islamic nations are required collectively but not individually to fight this phenomenon."
"Re-Organizing The Islamic House"
Riyadh's moderate Al-Jazira editorialized (10/20) "The Islamic speech, which concentrated on the importance of reorganizing the Islamic house as a necessary step towards its effective participation with the others, is a vital matter to the Kingdom.... The main concern for Muslim countries is fighting terrorism, which has deformed the image of Islam, considering that there are several terrorist groups proclaiming to be Muslims, and speaking on behalf of Islam and that their actions come out of the Islamic perspective. The problem is not Islam, but those who pretend that they are Muslims and taking a path that diverges far from Islam's instructions, because radicalism and exaggerations are not related to Islam. Therefore, Islamic countries have to sort out their religion from deviations that have nothing to do with Islam or its objectives or means."
"The Will And The Price"
Jeddah's moderate, Okaz argued (10/18) "In light of the Crown Prince's statement at the Islamic Conference we have two questions First, do Islamic countries have the will to deal with their citizens with complete transparency and without deception--something that we have come to expect from them in the past? Second, are we ready to pay the price for the remedy? The cure requires hefty concessions that put the public good ahead of both regional and personal interests. If we answer yes to both these questions, then there may be a light at the end of the tunnel."
"Rooting Out Extremism"
Riyadh's English-language, moderate Riyadh Daily editorialized (Internet version, 10/18) "Extremists are today the worst enemies of the Muslim world.... The Kingdom has time and again spoken vociferously and acted promptly against people with extremist ideology. This established fact was brought to fore once again at the OIC summit... when the Crown Prince called for stronger institutions to counter the bane of militancy stemming from extremist thought. Muslim countries have now accepted the reality that the name of Islam--which in truth is the religion of peace--is constantly being linked to international terrorism. The OIC, which yesterday concluded its first ever summit after the September 11 attacks, has addressed the issue with a realistic approach regardless of how fair or how generalized the accusations of terrorism against Muslims might be.... The Crown Prince directly addressed the problem by rooting this terror image to the extremists within the fold.... The fight against extremism, of course, would have to begin at home itself, within the Muslim world. In this context, the Crown Prince has urged the OIC states to strengthen institutions to tackle the growing trend of extremism among the youth. The Kingdom itself has been looking into its educational institutes and theological discourses, to stem out any elements of extremism, if any. The few black sheep within the fold must not be let loose to tarnish the good name of Islam."
"Look for the Silver Lining and You Will Find It"
Palestinian Press Attaché at the Palestinian Embassy in Rabat, Wassif Mansur, wrote on the front pate of government coalition Al Alam (10/21) "In the end, it is absolutely worth saying that the Palestinian people, throughout its long history, can no longer rely on Arab, Islamic or international organizations' official meetings, because not one clause from any of those organizations' communiques is ever implemented. If the Palestinian people feel a little optimism after the recent OIC summit, it is only because the summit's condemnation of Israel represents a kind of a courage that has been lost in Arab and Islamic countries since the events of September 11. The (OIC'S) courage has given the Palestinian people some optimism, even if only lip service optimism."
"The Islamic Summit And The Challenge Of The Media War"
Ahmad Hamadah opined in government-owned Al-Thawrah (Internet version, 10/16) "The Islamic summit...has to answer many questions, basically this one will the Islamic countries adopt effective resolutions to confront the state of frustration and despair from which the Muslim people are suffering as a result of the Zionist campaign against them, the accusation of terrorism against them, and the launching of wars on them under this pretext, or will the summit serve only as a forum to deliver speeches and establish follow-up and coordination committees that might not be able to follow up anything? It is no secret that the OIC, since its establishment in 1969, has played a positive role in bringing the Islamic countries closer and unifying their positions over many just causes, notably the Palestinian cause.... But it also has been noticed that after the 11 September events in the United States, the priorities of many Muslim countries changed. Differences among the Muslim countries deepened.... The card of Islamic boycott of Israel also eroded.... Some Islamic countries went as far as taking the side of the camp that threatens their independence, sovereignty, security, and culture. They were driven behind that camp's deception campaigns that portrayed resistance as terrorism and terrorism as resistance.... The Zionist trumpets and media machine are releasing their venom, accusing Muslims of terrorism to distorting their image in the West. They have been telling the United States and its alliesSeize the opportunity to strike at the Islamic countries (your new enemy after communism). This is the new threat that wants to undermine your Western civilization. This campaign, which invented the so-called 'Islamic extremism', found responsive people in the West.... This is due to the torrent of lies used and the absence of any Islamic role exposing these lies, which went beyond every imagination and limit.... Will the Islamic summit note the seriousness of these campaigns and lay out an information strategy to counter them?"
"The Sword of Damocles"
An editorial by senior editor Hajer Jeridi in independent French-language daily newspaper Le Temps stated (10/20) "The Islamic and Arab position has never been so weak as it is now.... Any observation or criticism expressed by this 'Evil Race' is interpreted as an incitement to hatred and as a racist act.... Being unable to defend themselves...Arabs seem to be resigned to consider this fact as a part of their reality. There is no resistance, no policy, no well-planned communication to answer these accusations.... The most recurrent blame, the sword of Damocles, that weighs heavily on Arab-Muslim populations, is the accusation of anti-Semitism.... It is an insidious policy aimed at isolating the Arab-Muslim world and overwhelming it with charges so as to portray it as an area of outlaws."
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
"Besides Blaming Others, OIC Should Consolidate"
Leading independent Kompas observed (Internet version, 10/19) "This year's summit was the first since the attack on 11 September, 2001, and then the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq--two developments which put the Islamic world on the defensive. As President Megawati Soekarnoputri said in her speech at the summit, these cruel acts of terrorism did not cause casualties and property damage alone, but brought about an erroneous view of the Islamic way of life, which then took the image of a religion smeared with violence and aggression.... In this regard, what [Malaysian Prime Minister] Mahathir pointed out has also played a part in the declining image of Islam. He said the Jews had oppressed and humiliated the Islamic world through their influence in the West. Some of the above points have some truth in them, [but] it is not enough for Muslim nations to blame others. That is why Mahathir also called on Muslim nations to unite and increase their capabilities. He regretted that Islamic nations had made few achievements in economic progress and in mastering technology [and] rejected the view often put forward by fundamentalists that modern education, technology, and progress are anathema to Islam.... Under 22 years of Mahathir's leadership, Indonesia's neighbor has proved itself as a Muslim majority country that has succeeded not only in economic development, but also in advancing political stability.... Malaysia has a lot that OIC nations could copy.... Muslim nations first and foremost need to consolidate, close ranks, and to determine priorities. First, of course, is the effort to advance, at least to the level of the summit host nation. Next, they can forge a compact view, for example, in declaring an attitude regarding Palestine. If Muslim nations can unite, they will not only have a stronger voice, but greater wealth. Therefore, a more appropriate stance is not simply to blame others, but to use some introspection and consolidation to improve themselves first."
"OIC, A Scattered Power"
Independent Media Indonesia asserted (Internet version, 10/18) "It is not surprising that the OIC bargaining position is so weak in so many world affairs. Take only Iraq and Palestine. The OIC seems to have lost its voice. The OIC is powerless to resist the aggression of the United States and Britain, who now control Iraq. The OIC, too, could not hold back the push of Jewish Zionism from swallowing up Palestine. This is because Islam is a scattered force. Thus, Mahathir's call for OIC countries to unite must be welcomed. For the foundation of any organization, wherever it may be, is commonality. When commonality is no longer a cord that binds, there is no longer anything of an organization to defend....
"With the rise in terrorism, the image of violence has covered the Islamic community. And Islam must answer that with intelligence and the high moral ground.... That Islam is cool, tolerant, incorruptible, clean and peace loving, choosing the path of dialogue.... Indonesia, for instance, as the largest Muslim nation, is incapable of setting an example. Our education is increasingly on the ropes, and the morality of our leaders at almost every level is extremely poor.... Thus, what Mahathir says is a call to make profound corrections to our course. The Islamic community must work very hard to grasp again the glory of the seventh and eighth centuries, when Islam was the greatest contributor to world civilization. And this can only be done with high-quality education, not with violence."
"Message That The West Distorted"
Bunn Nagara wrote in the English-language Star (10/18) "Malaysia's attempt to rally members of the Organization of Islamic Conference...sought to rouse them from various states of stupor, apathy and semi-paralysis. It had to be a kick-start to push an otherwise disparate array of 57 nations to rise above their rut, torpor and defeatism. Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad's opening speech was as usual expansive and provocative. It challenged OIC member states to rise to the occasion, and that occasion was the politically weakened state of their shared faith. The speech covered many areas and topics, among which was the global dominance of Jewish entities. This was enough for much of the Western media and some Western leaders to single out the point with which to denounce the prime minister and his message. It would have been better if all these critics had read the speech in its entirety, rather than just responding to isolated 'statements' or reports of the comment. As it is, their urge to clamp down on Dr. Mahathir's blunt comments sits oddly with their proclaimed adherence to free speech.... The result is not unfamiliarcondemnation of views taken out of context.... These self-righteous critics worry about hurtful words while turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to the bullets and missiles destroying real lives of multitudes of innocents. If this is not sheer ignorance it must be gross hypocrisy, with vile duplicity to match.... The speech also acknowledged Jewish grit and savvy, without belittling Jewish capabilities in any way. The prime minister similarly pressed Muslims to emulate the ways of Jewish people which have led to such success around the world. Pulling together, working hard and planning for the future were all better than pessimism, destruction and self-destruction."
"The West's Misconception Of Dr. Mahathir's Criticism"
Government-influenced Malay language Berita Harian had this to day (Internet version, 10/18) "The world has tried to distort the essence of Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Sri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad's speech at the opening of the 10th Organization of Islamic Conference [OIC] Summit...just because he is sincere in talking about the Jews' trickery. Western countries cannot accept the facts of Dr. Mahathir's statement.... All this time they have been condemning Islam and treating Muslims like they have no dignity. Do the Jews and big powers supporting them feel offended by Dr. Mahathir's statement when what he has said is no longer a 'secret?' Where can we hide the facts about Palestinian land, Iraq, Afghanistan and several other Islamic nations that have been devastated?.... The statement...has sparked a political polemic because it comes from the leader of an Islamic nation that has achieved progress.... Dr. Mahathir's speech focuses on the issues of Islam, Islamic nations and the attitudes of Muslims. He has also openly criticized the attitudes of Muslim leaders that led to Islam being humiliated. Not even one Muslim leader is angry or has responded to the statement in an unsatisfactory manner. Instead, they regard Dr. Mahathir's statement as a factual criticism in order to make Muslims realize the reality. To countries in the bloc that views Islam with contempt, the portrayal of everything negative should be directed at Muslims only. Muslims must be left to suffer and continue to be weak. To them, Dr. Mahathir's efforts to make other Islamic nations realize the need to build up their strength, will pose a threat to their superiority.... Muslims, particularly the leaders of Islamic nations, must be jerked with a bold statement because all this while they have been afraid to say the truth. The invasion of Islamic nations by Western powers, and without the a slightest humanitarian feeling, has made all these nations' leaders bow to them. The Muslims' countries are ravaged, resources monopolized, and leaders blamed by the people. This is the horrifying dream that is faced by Islamic nations when they have the strength but are scared to use it."
"Post OIC Summit In Putrajaya"
Lokman Othman remarked in government-controlled Utusan Malaysia (Internet version, 10/18) "Dr. Mahathir called on Islamic nations to stop being emotional and not to use the old approach in dealing with conflicts. Instead, they must use knowledge to overcome them. The Jews have shown this and by using knowledge for development, they have power now. Although the process has taken a long time, the result is effective. The Jews are strong militarily and economically. But until today the fate of Muslims is not only without improvement, but rather, the situation is getting worse.... Dr. Mahathir wanted Islamic nations to look to the past and emulate Prophet Mohammed's leadership as useful examples. The Muslims were then small in number and weak, but with wisdom and intelligence God endowed them, they finally became successful in all fields. However, the recipe failed to defend the Muslims forever. Political discord caused them to kill each other while other races continued to build their individual strength. Dr. Mahathir tried to make OIC member countries realize the reality that they are faced with now.... Unfortunately, the foreign media viewed Dr. Mahathir's speech from a negative perspective.... The voices of some of the foreign media that are filled with contempt for Dr. Mahathir must be banned. To the foreign media, the truth that Dr. Mahathir said must be concealed so that the Muslims would continue to be in the dark, apart from being saddled with weaknesses and backwardness. If the Muslims feel that they are weak, they must be developed in accordance with the big powers' wishes."
"Strength And Unity Become The Pillars"
Government-influenced Malay language Berita Harian noted (Internet version, 10/17) "Toward the last moments of his leadership as the prime minister of a dynamic Islamic nation, Datuk Sri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, without any fear, has continued to reproach all quarters--leaders, scholars or ulemas--for the mistakes and failures committed by Muslims thus far. It is due to these factors that the 1.3 billion Muslims throughout the world are still backward and not fairly defended. Without putting the blame on others except Muslims themselves, Dr. Mahathir said that our attitudes have allowed us to be divided into numerous groups, sects, and tarikats, each more concerned with claiming to be the true Islam than our oneness as the Islamic Ummah. This has made it easier for our enemies to humiliate and oppress us.... Dr. Mahathir not only made a wise and deep evaluation of the situation hitting the Islamic world now. Rather, he also explained a program of action to overcome the problems. The program, regarded by several leaders as a 'peace plan,' must be adopted by all Islamic nations. By using strength and unity as the pillars, it is hoped that the program of action can be implemented by leaders and Islamic nations in handling issues faced by Muslims throughout the world."
"Uproar Drowns Mahathir's Real Message"
Brendan Pereira wrote in the pro-government Straits Times (Internet version, 10/18) "Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's controversial 'Jews rule the world' speech should have gone down as a clarion call to Muslims to shun violence and use their brains, not just brawn, to improve their lot. It was a speech rich with groundbreaking elementsa call for Muslim countries to pause and try to resolve the Palestinian issue through peaceful means, and a plea for Muslims not to antagonize their detractors but to win them over. What a pity that Dr. Mahathir's needlessly provocative rhetoric about the Jews distracted everyone and diluted the meat of his address.... Not surprisingly, the derision was immediate and widespread.... Here is the irony. If anyone should have been angry...it should have been Hamas, Hizbollah and their ilk in the Middle East, or some of the backward regimes that dot the Muslim world. He called for a different approach to tackling the Palestinian issue, arguing that the policy of aggression had not worked for 50 years. A better option was to win the hearts and minds of people who were critical and suspicious of Muslims.... This was the moderate view that the Muslim world so badly needs to hear again and again. This was also the kind of view that the rest of the world has wanted Muslim leaders to articulate. So it was a pity indeed that Dr. Mahathir muddied the waters with his rhetoric."
"Mahathir Leaves A Malay Dilemma"
The lead editorial in top-circulation, moderately conservative, English language Bangkok Post read (10/21) "The OIC Summit ended in a dilemma, however. Host and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, the patriarch of Southeast Asian politics and two weeks from retirement, committed two giant gaffes. In his speech to the summit, Dr. Mahathir made racist and offensive remarks about Jews around the world. Then, instead of retracting them or even trying to claim he was speaking of the state of Israel, he defended and repeated them. This so overshadowed the actual accomplishments of the OIC that it created an actual dilemma. Dr. Mahathir at the very least appears guilty of grandstanding, although many believe racism and bigotry decided his words. Only he can know for sure. But if he wished to motivate Muslims, as he claims, he had 100 methods to choose from. Fellow political leaders from Islamic countries had no trouble to speak to Muslim problems, and to offer both realistic and idealistic solutions."
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
The pro-BJP right-of-center Pioneer editorialized (Internet version, 10/21) "The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), which has always tended to take a one-sided and pro-Pakistan view of the situation in Jammu & Kashmir, broke all its earlier records in partisanship.... Its Secretary-General Abdelouahed Belkeziz's...call for India to allow an OIC delegation to visit J&K and inspect the conditions there, reflects a glaring inability to recognize reality. The same applies to the demand for a 'plebiscite' in J&K and condemnation of 'human rights violations' by India in the organization's communiqué. If this has further undermined its credibility with New Delhi, its unquestioning endorsement of Pakistan's position on Kashmir and failure to condemn the latter's sponsorship of cross-border terrorism which is the basic cause of the troubles in J&K, have severely damaged such image as it has in the world.... Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed...sought to underline the need for change among Islamic countries which he said, had to be stable, well-administered, economically and financially strong, industrially competent and technologically advanced to disprove the perception that Islam was a religion of backwardness and terror. This is doubtless a tall order given the state of most of OIC's member countries, but even a beginning cannot be made unless they recognize their own inadequacies. As the summit has shown, a critical one is their failure to be objective."
"Islamic Countries Favor Pakistan"
Second-largest circulation Hindi daily Dainik Jagran averred (10/20) "Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has said that Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's statement in Malaysia demanding a plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir was ridiculous.... The OIC is interfering in India's internal affairs by passing the proposal on Jammu and Kashmir, which is objectionable. India has strongly criticized the proposal but that is not enough. It is not an ordinary matter that 57 Islamic countries under the OIC passed the proposal and demanded that the Kashmiris be given the right to have a referendum. Surprisingly, not a word on Pakistan-occupied Kashmir was mentioned in the proposal. This is nothing short of favoritism shown toward Pakistan by the Islamic countries.... This is not the first time that the OIC has taken an inimical attitude toward India. It appears that its members are intentionally overlooking the fact that India has the second-largest Muslim population in the world, next to Indonesia. The Muslims here are living in a much better situation than Muslims elsewhere in the world. The OIC's pro-Pakistan policy has made the organization a suspect in the eyes of the Indians.... If the OIC values the goodwill of Indian Muslims, it should avoid becoming a tool of Pakistan. India should not merely express regret over the OIC resolution. The country should make an effort to change the members' attitude if they want cordial relations between India and the Muslim world to continue. Efforts should also be made to counter Pakistan's false allegations against India before the Muslim countries."
The nationalist Hindustan Times editorialized (10/20) "The OIC would have done well to indulge in a bit of self-introspection. Had it been wise enough to do so, it would have found that the concept it is supposedly looking for in Kashmir is absent in most Islamic countries, including Pakistan whose warped vision it blindly endorsed. Even the 'democracy' prevalent in Pakistan is not regarded as a genuine one by, say, the Commonwealth.... No less fatuous was the demand voiced by the OIC's secretary-general to allow a delegation from the organization to 'inspect conditions in the Indian-controlled part' of Kashmir.... If the OIC wants to help its member-countries, it should focus on ways to break the stranglehold of retrogressive 'mullacracies' prevalent in the Muslim world. A delegation can also visit Kashmir to learn about democracy and pluralism."
The centrist Times of India held (Internet version, 10/18) "Quite clearly, the sponsors of terrorism had planned for the new phase of violence to coincide with the sense of betrayal increasingly felt by the average Kashmiri.... Ironically, the outrage happened a day after Washington traced Dawood Ibrahim's whereabouts to a Karachi address, and announced that he in fact held a Pakistani passport. Belated as this American 'discovery' of Dawood is, it nonetheless exposes Pakistan's lie about the D-company [Dawood and his associates] and, by implication, the role of both sponsoring trouble in India. It is a safe bet, of course, that the general will be unfazed by this embarrassing turn of events. One indication of the course he is likely to follow is suggested by his invitation to the OIC [Organization of The Islamic Conference] countries to send their representatives to investigate the reality of 'occupied' Kashmir. Rather than panic at this, India should welcome the team so they can see the truth--including the fidayeen attacks--for themselves. Simultaneously, the Indian side could suggest that the OIC visit Pakistan to ascertain both the general's popularity and the state of his terror camps."
"Look First Within"
Pro-Congress Urdu-language Qaumi Awaz stated (10/18) "The OIC has been claiming to be the representative of Muslims worldwide, but the organization has not paid any attention to solving the social, economic, and political problems of the Muslim countries because it has been functioning under the influence of the United States and the western countries. India, which has millions of Muslim population, is kept out of the OIC membership.... The OIC has no legal or moral right to ask for plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir. However, the OIC's narrowmindedness encourages the terrorists.... The OIC should rise above its emotional links with Pakistan and consider the situation.... The OIC should have asked Musharraf to respond positively to India's peace initiative last year. The OIC leaders should pay heed to the dangers of the extremists and anti-democracy elements threatening the Islamic world. The organization should consider how the western countries succeeded in linking Islam with terrorism, and why in some Muslim countries, the powers were vested in few hands.... In his inaugural address, the new OIC chairman, Mahathir Muhammad, said that no Islamic country was free in the true sense.... The OIC countries should first look within. Only then they should dare interfere in India's internal affairs."
"Mahatir's Remarks Protest By Israeli Patron Crusader Bush"
An editorial in the second largest Urdu daily, Nawa-e-Waqt read (10/22) "U.S. President George W. Bush protested to Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahatir Muhammad over his remarks regarding Jews.... Whatever Prime Minister Mahatir said...was one hundred percent correct. Whatever Jews faced in Europe before the inception of Israel was a result of their misdeeds.... The day President Bush was expressing his love for Jews and Israel and registering his protest with Mahatir Muhammad, Israeli aircraft were launching repeated attacks on Palestinians in Gaza."
"Israel's State Terrorism Response To Dr. Mahatir Mohammad's Statement?"
The Karachi-based pro-Taliban/Jihad Urdu daily, Islam remarked (10/22) "U.S. President Bush has yet again provided a proof of his pro-Zionist affiliations by protesting to Dr. Mahatir Mohammad [over his statement] at the APEC summit. Many believe that the recent action by Israel against Palestinians is a direct Israeli reaction to this statement."
The center-right national English daily, The Nation held (10/22) "The hue and cry that Dr. Mahatir's observations have provoked among the pro-Jewish circles in the world is totally uncalled for.... Characterizing Jews as having been the victims of 2,000 years of pogrom, which they fought 'not by hitting but by thinking,' he advised Muslims 'to emulate their response'.... Dr. Mahatir called those who 'lash back in anger' by killing themselves and others as 'people acting irrationally.' Plainly he was urging the Muslim world to forsake violence and start thinking about an honorable exit from the tricky situation they find themselves in.... One wonders with what face the U.S. president could tell the Malaysian prime minister that his views were 'wrong and divisive'. Should Jews, insignificant in number compared to the overall global population, not be ruling by proxy, Mr. Bush would not have jumped to their defense."
"What Is Free May Not Be Fair"
The Karachi-based center-left independent national English daily, Dawn noted (10/22) "While one can empathize with what the Malaysian leader has said about what is fair and what is not in the context of free trade, it is not possible to agree with him fully on the matter of poorer countries' right to protect their 'little businesses until they can compete with the giants' or that the developing countries be allowed to take pride in their national industries, even if they are producing match-sticks and cigarettes rather than automobiles and aircraft."
"The Emperor Comes Calling"
Mahir Ali editorialized in the Karachi-based center-left independent national English daily Dawn (10/22) "What caused most alarm was not the veteran Malaysian leader's words but the fact that he received a standing ovation. However, the opportunity for a Washington-led anti-Mahatir tirade was undermined somewhat by reports that a leading U.S. general, William G. Boykin, who is the Deputy Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, has in his utterances been alluding to a Christian crusade against Islam."
"Re-Creating The OIC"
An op-ed by Hans B. Bremer in the centrist national English daily, The News judged (10/22) "One need only quote Dr. Mahatir's own reaction to his western critics'They think while it is proper to criticize Muslims and Arabs, it is not proper to criticize Europeans and Jews.' Of course, most western media conveniently ignored the fact that Dr. Mahatir had also said Muslims should make peace as they could not win the Palestinian conflict through violence.... Don't expect any big thank you from Uncle Sam. What was it again that Dr. Mahatir said about the Jews ruling the world by proxy? So where do we go from here? It is imperative that the momentum coming out of Putrajaya be kept up. Time is of the essence. When OIC leaders meet again before the end of next year, they must have some considerable progress to report, and the commission now being set up on the advice of President Musharraf must give them something concrete to work on. In addition, why don't Mahatir Mohammad and Pervez Musharraf embark on a joint PR offensive? Take two or three weeks off and travel together around the globe to lay out in detail the OIC's vision for itself and for its relations with the non-Muslim world."
"Mahatir's Swan Song"
Burhanuddin Hasan commented in the centrist national English daily, The News (10/22) "A storm of protest has arisen predictably against the bold and truthful remarks of Mahatir Mohammad in Israel, U.S. and European Union countries. Israeli foreign ministry has issued a statement saying that Mahatir's reference to the Holocaust was 'desecration of the memory of six million innocent victims of anti-Semitism.' It was not a desecration, but a statement of a historic fact. It is amazing that Israel has ignored the tribute paid by Mahatir to Jews for inventing socialism, communism, human rights and democracy. This swan song of Dr. Mahatir Mohammad was the best that came out of the OIC Summit."
"Foreign Minister's Suggestions"
The second largest Urdu daily Nawa-e-Waqt observed (10/19) "Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri has said that Mahatir Muhammad's remarks (regarding Jews) were taken out of context, and that 'I myself know lots of broadminded Jews'.... In his inaugural address, Malaysian PM Mahatir Muhammad had said that the Jews are ruling the world by proxy, and other countries are fighting and dying for them. Mr. Kasuri's observation on the Malaysian PM's remarks exceed his status, more so because all Muslim leaders talked about Jewish conspiracies against the Muslim Ummah and considered it to be a valid issue. But our foreign minister came up with a clarification that even Mr. Muhammad would not have found acceptable.... Is this what we have come tothat our foreign minister takes it upon himself to issue clarifications and explanations."
"Muslim Leadership's Responsibility"
Lahore-based independent Urdu daily Din argued (10/18) "By citing the Jews' example, Dr. Mahatir Muhammad has tried to explain that a durable power structure cannot be formed without planning, deliberation and thought. He has explained how Europe eliminated half of the Jewish population, but Jews could not be put down because they do everything after giving it much thought.... No one can disagree with Dr. Mahatir's observation, and will concede that even Muslims--who constitute one-sixth of the world's population--can attain an important place in the world if they adopt this (Jewish) strategy rather than being swept away by emotions."
"Countering Jews Reflection, Unity And Best Defense Capability"
An editorial in the second largest Urdu daily Nawa-e-Waqt contended (10/18) "As far as Dr. Mahatir Muhammad's views on Jews are concerned, they are hundred percent correct.... At present Muslims face the greatest threat from the U.S.-Indian-Israeli axis of evil. Russia, too, is cooperating with these countries. Therefore, the Islamic world must unite against them and take concrete measures so that Jewish conspiracies can be countered."
"Putrajaya And Enlightened Moderation"
The centrist national English daily, The News wrote (10/21) "Besides rhetoric, the Summit addressed the crucial issues of working together to face the odds. Prime Minister Mahatir of Malaysia did not mince words when he analyzed the causes of Muslims' backwardness and how only through education, science, technology, modernization, putting our own houses in order and closing ranks, could we find a respectable place in the world. His reference to the power of the Jews was well taken although it irked the West."
"The Real Success Of The Islamic Summit"
Centrist Urdu daily Pakistan declared (10/18) "The Islamic world must heed Dr. Mahatir's words (about the Jews) and avoid becoming a toy in the hands of a world minority."
"OIC Disappoints Again"
Mushahid Hussain commented in the center-right national English daily, The Nation (10/21) "[Mahatir's] remarks regarding Jews being a 'world power' whose strength and influence is disproportionate to its numerical size is something that almost all Muslims fervently believe but few say so publicly. And it is now no secret that the Iraq war was largely pushed by the pro-Israeli neo-conservative cabal now dominant in Washington. These remarks, therefore, are certainly not synonymous with 'anti-Semitism'. However, where Dr. Mahatir was wrong both factually and in his historical narrative was to link 'socialism, communism, human rights and democracy' as something 'invented and successfully promoted' by the Jews. That is giving 'credit' where it does not belong and this falls within the realm of conspiracy theories, not any historical fact."
"Leader Of The Islamic World Mahatir Muhammad"
Abdul Karim Abid judged in the center-right Urdu daily Pakistan (10/21) "Although the time has not yet come when someone can be appointed a caliph of the Muslims, but Mahatir Muhammad has certainly become a leader of the Muslims. If nothing else, he can at least be termed as a bold and courageous spokesman of the Muslim world.... However, it would have been better if Dr. Mahatir Muhammad had used the term 'Zionist' or 'Zionism' instead of 'Jews' as not all people belonging to a race or nation are alike. Even among Jews, there are lots of conscientious people who are against Israeli and Zionist ambitions. The ordinary Jew is not a capitalist, he belongs to the poor or middle class, and although his mind might have been poisoned, he does not belong to the Zionist movement."
"Hue And Cry Over Mahatir's Address"
Abbas Athar commented in the second largest Urdu daily Nawa-e-Waqt (10/18) "Australia, Britain and the U.S. are crying the loudest at Dr. Mahatir's statement. A Protestant Britain laid the foundation of Israel and a Protestant-dominated U.S. turned this pygmy into a giant. Even today, Australia, the U.S. and Britain are most active in promoting this monster. If, by some miracle, the Arab countries attack Israel and subjugate it, all of Europe will remain silent but these three will not waste a moment in attacking these Arab states."
"Karzai At OIC"
Kabul Radio Afghanistan in Pashto commented (10/21) "The participation of His Excellency Mr. Hamed Karzai in the annual conference of the Islamic countries [Organization of Islamic Conferences] after no representation of Afghanistan in this conference for six years, has made Afghanistan better known internationally. It has also given Afghanistan its Islamic identity among other Islamic countries. The head of state, Mr. Hamed Karzai, stated at the conference that Afghanistan is the center of civilizations and asked the world for further cooperation."
"A Call to Action Time For The OIC To Fulfill Its Challenging Mission"
Independent English Daily Star editorialized (10/19) "These are troubled times for the Muslim ummah. In addition to the poverty, dispossession, and oppression that millions of Muslims endure, Islam is today vilified around the world as a religion of terror. The OIC is thus right to take a strong stand rejecting the imputation of any nexus between Islam and terrorism. The OIC is also right to reject selectivity and duplicity in the fight against terrorism and the notion that only Muslims are terrorists. In short, the OIC has done a decent job outlining the grievances of the Muslim world and insisting that the world recognize that Muslims feel aggrieved and under siege. However, the principal crisis that Islam faces is internal, not external. Too many of the OIC member states are dictatorships or despotisms that deny their citizens basic political and human rights and too many are impoverished economic backwaters that deny their citizens basic economic and social rights. Muslim countries need to modernize and provide economic, political and human rights to the Muslim ummah. Helping to provide these rights and opportunities is the OIC's historical mission and it is this mission that must be fulfilled for the OIC to be a relevant and effective body today."
"OIC Summit Muslim Nations Receive New Direction"
Independent Bangla language newspaper Prothom Alo commented (10/19) "The summit of the 57-nation OIC was uniquely significant. The need to strengthen the organization received importance in the summit to meet the challenges of a changed global reality. The adoption of a 12-point plan of action was one of the significant aspects of the summit. We must accept that the time has come to emphasize education and science. We think that the people of the Muslim world will be able to acquire effective strength with the practice of science and knowledge. We can be optimistic that positive results will be found since such thoughts have emerged in the Muslim world. We think that the conference has been able to provide Muslim nations with a positive direction."
"OIC Makes No Headway"
Independent English Bangladesh Observer observed (10/19) "The OIC, the only organization of states based on the primary criterion of religion, has never played its role to the full potential. This time again, it has shown how spineless it is when it came to the important resolution on Iraq. Although it has tried to be as supportive as it could to the Palestinian cause and as critical as possible to Israel, its resolution has been euphemistically worded rather than making concrete suggestions.... It appears that the organization is under the spell of a bogey power out to disrupt the international order. There is hardly any difference between the Bush-Blair doctrine and the one propagated by Hitler on the racial line known as anti-Semitism. Branding Islam as a dangerous threat to security of the U.S. or any other country is simply nonsensical. The OIC needed to say point blank that much of the problems the U.S. has on its hands in the Middle East are of its own making. Islam has nothing to do with this. If the U.S.-UK come to their senses and try to mend their ways, peace can still be the order of the day in that region, if not in the entire world."
Abolhassan Sobhani wrote in Keyhan International, English-language daily affiliated with the conservative Keyhan group (10/18) "OIC member states expressed concern about the situation in the Islamic countries with a resolve to make every effort to enhance the OIC role in the international affairs commensurate with the strength, human and natural resources and contribution to international peace and security.... The decision to 'revitalize' an economic boycott of Israel in retaliation for its 'aggressions' against Palestinians and other Arabs is considered as an important one by political analysts.... It is a pity that the OIC communique did not call for an increased UN role and a set timetable for U.S.-led forces to pull out of Iraq.... Let's hope the OIC, a major world body, continues asserting itself and attains the status it deserves at international arena."
"The End Of A Taboo"
Elite, classical liberal Il Foglio commented (10/23) "[The UN vote on the Israeli Security fence] reflects the worst European diplomatic tradition, full as it is of moral equivalencies and accomplice silence.... What is new with this resolution is its context. It was approved right after the speech of Malaysian Premier Mohammed Mahatir at the Conference of Islamic countries.... The speech did not receive clear-cut condemnation in Europe.... The Europeans' choice to play down what happened and to instead condemn Israel for the building of the wall, is taken to mean by many observers as the fall of a taboo, a creepy legitimization of the anti-Zionist version of anti-Semitism."
Reformist Izvestiya editorialized (10/18) "If Mahathir had not said some foul things about Jews at the Islamic summit in Malaysia he would not have been his own self. This man's image does not allow him to restrain his tongue while speaking about the 'worst enemies of the Islamic world,' moreover, in front of such a responsive audience. The audience met Mahathir's words about the 'Jews ruling the world' with a storm of applause. What else could we expect? For us, the most significant aspect of the anti-Semitic scandal during the Malaysian summit is that Vladimir Putin was among the audience during Mahathir's speech.... Putin found himself in an embarrassing situation. He was a guest invited to the Islamic summit for the first time and therefore, could not argue with the host publicly, speaking from the podium. Having said that, he could not ignore Mahathir's escapade either..... Putin found an elegant way to express his attitude to Mahathir's words without provoking a public conflict.... While speaking before journalists, the Russian president stated that 'some speakers at the forum expressed 'extreme views.' Putin did not mention any names, but it was clear anyway whom he referred to.... Putin can speak more sharply and specifically after his return to Moscow, where he should meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Incidentally, the scandalous event in Malaysia gives a new angle to the idea of Russia's entry into OIC recently expressed by the Kremlin. The observer status is fine. However, are we ready to become a full-fledged member of an organization whose leaders meet those kinds of odious speeches with ovations?"
"Playing Games On Thin Ice"
Aleksandr Budberg mused in reformist youth-oriented Moskovskiy Komsomolets (10/20) "As Moscow is trying to act the part of a 'truce envoy,' it needs to be very careful and tough not to slide smoothly into the habitual anti-Western ways that are still popular in the world and among the military. In that sense, the Mahathir-stirred row is useful in reminding Putin of the thin ice he is walking on. Truce envoys are known to have drawn fire from all sides sometimes."
"Do We Need All This?"
Arkadiy Dubnov reported from Putrajaya for reformist Vremya Novostey (10/17) "The enemies of Islam were a high and even scandalous point in the Mahathir statement. Attending the ICO summit, Vladimir Putin learned that the Jews and Europeans rule the world.... It remains to be seen what Putin will do now, after he offered the ICO his services in arranging a dialogue with other faiths. Does the world's Muslim elite need his help and must Russia get involved, seeking the status of an observer with the ICO? With Europeans and Jews in our midst, we may some day be listed among the 'enemies,' too."
"Putting Together The Incompatible"
Vladislav Vorobyov of official government Rossiyskaya Gazeta noted (10/17) "The leaders of Muslim countries yesterday tried to put together incompatible thingspeace talks and a victory over enemies."
Leopold Unger commented in liberal Gazeta Wyborcza (10/21) "You can get quite far with a lie, but it is a road of no return. Malaysian Prime Minster Mohathir Mohamad said to the leaders of more than a billion Muslims [convened at the Organization of Islamic Conference in Malaysia's capital] that 'Europeans killed six out of twelve million Jews, but today the Jews govern the world through their representatives.' Mahathir's rhetoric justifies the worst suicidal policy, which keeps the huge Islamic world in stagnation. This kind of thinking blames the backwardness of the region not on dictatorial, obscurant, and corrupt governance, but on the 'convenient' global Jewish conspiracy. Mahathir claims that he is against violence, and that he proposes peaceful measures in the struggle against Jews. In fact, with his poisoned language he calls for pogroms...and fuels terrorism."
"Significant Messages From Gul"
Sami Kohen wrote in mass-appeal Milliyet (Internet version, 10/21) "Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul's address at the OIC...sent significant messages... The points Gul underscored at the Forum can be summarized as follows --Islam and modernization are not antithetical concepts.... --Muslim communities have failed to achieve high standards in the areas of democracy, equality, and social rights.... --The problems of Muslim societies can be repaired, their hardships can be overcome, and their institutions can be restructured.... Gul's address in Malaysia was a remanifestation of the candor, courage, and common sense he demonstrated earlier at the conference in Tehran. The Minister's call [in May] on Islamic countries to change their posture on democracy, human rights and freedoms, political participation, and social reforms and to 'put their own houses in order' had generated surprise but also interest and acclaim. His talk in Malaysia which contained similar advice and calls has attracted the attention of the leaders and prominent officials of 57 countries.... Another interesting point is that Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad of the host country claimed at some point in his lengthy opening speech that the Jews control the world. These remarks, considered to be anti-Semitic, have generated controversy and have been condemned by several world leaders including presidents Bush and Putin. President Ahmet Necdet Sezer also said in his address...that the Islamic world is in need of a serious renewal and reform process and that courageous decisions need to be taken in this direction. When Sezer's and Gul's speeches are appraised together with recent statements by Religious Affairs Director Ali Bardakoglu, Turkey's concept and vision of the link between Islam and reform and modernization becomes evident. Turkey's experience in this area sets a genuine example for the Islamic world. It is obvious that the OIC, which represents the large Islamic world, also needs restructuring and new policies that can answer today's problems and requirements. Several speakers articulated this need during the summit. Unfortunately the result that has emerged from this summit cannot be considered very encouraging on this issue."
"Islamic Countries Ignored The Iraq Reality"
Ferai Tinc commented in mass appeal Hurriyet (10/20) "The OIC summit has missed an important chance to shape a policy line on Iraq. Short-sighted assessments and individual ambitions overshadowed the discussion of Iraq. Therefore, the summit failed to design an alternate plan for Iraq's reconstruction or to establish a joint action plan. Turkey and Pakistan worked together for a joint Islamic peacekeeping force, yet failed.... The overall majority of the OIC countries signify a factthe leaderships are preserving their reign under the disguise of 'sacred religion.' And those leaderships have just abandoned Iraq to its destiny."
"Islam and Modernism"
Seyfi Sahin held in nationalist Ortadogu (10/18) "The Islamic countries must engage in introspection. They must ask themselves 'Why do we allow our people to go hungry, poor, without food, and without jobs? Why can we not boost industrialization and production in our countries? Why do we let our earnings go into the Westerners' pockets as part of their interest policy? Why are we poor while they are rich? Why is there bloodshed and slaughter in our countries while their countries live in peace and tranquillity? Why do we like the Westerners but not the Muslims? Why do we fight each other? Why do we give away the natural blessings of our countries? Why have we lost our self-confidence and why are we weighed down by a sense of inferiority?' The leaders of a Islamic countries, including Turkey, must give honest answers to these questions. The discussion of these issues in the OIC is beneficial for the Islamic countries as well as the world public in general. At a minimum these countries are able to hear [Malaysian Prime Minister] Mahathir's warnings and give consideration to [Turkish President] Sezer's call for introspection. Even if a decision is not reached at the end, such discussions produce nice feelings of unity that are imprinted in minds. These feelings may become the beginning of the unity, compassion, and brotherhood Islam preaches."
Liberal Folha de S. Paulo editorialized (10/20) "Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's statements at the Organization of the Islamic Conference decrying 'the Jewish domination of the world' have left no doubts about his anti-Semitism.... Mahathir's words would be simply absurd if they were not dangerous and prejudicial.... Feeding the notion of expelling the Jews from Israel (as some Muslim militants want) is not the most intelligent way out of the conflict in the Mideast. The situation requires effort from the parties involved and the international community so that a commitment to peace may be made."