The Screenplay-novel Manifestos

Less is more vivid

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Throughout the Region

This story, by Neil MacFarquhar of the New York Times, covers an issue that I mentioned a few days earlier in my commentary on a recent Juan Cole article. While media have been endlessly repeating over the past few days the question of what role, if any, Syria and Iran will play in this war, what is happening in countries such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia may turn out to have more serious consequences for U. S. policy in the region.

DAMASCUS, Syria, July 21 In mosques from Mecca to Marrakesh, sermons at Friday Prayer services underscored both the David-versus-Goliath glamour many Arabs associate with Hezbollahs fight against Israel and their antipathy toward the United States and its allies in the region for doing so little to stop yet another Arab country from collapsing into bloodshed.

Our brothers are being killed in Lebanon and no one is responding to their cries for help, said Sheik Hazzaa al-Maswari, an Islamist member of Yemens Parliament, in his Friday sermon at the Mujahid Mosque in Sana, the countrys capital.

Where are the Arab leaders? he said. Do they have any skill other than begging for a fake peace outside the White House? We dont want leaders who bow to the White House.

The tone of the sermons suggests that the fighting in Lebanon is further tarnishing the image of the United States in the Arab world as being solely concerned with Israels welfare and making its allied governments look increasingly like puppets.

What is creating radicalism in the region is not authoritarian regimes, said Mustafa Hamarneh, director of the Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan. Mainly it is American policy in the region survey after survey shows that.

The attacks against Arab leaders from the pulpit were all the more surprising because so many governments have exerted some manner of control over sermons in recent years. Dictating the content of the weekly themes is one means of preventing prayer leaders from launching into the kind of political discussions that could inspire extremists.

Here in Damascus, where the Syrian government has been trying to keep a low profile as the fighting in Lebanon surges, prominent prayer leaders focused on the need to donate generously to help tens of thousands of Lebanese refugees pouring over the border. But they also took other Arab countries to task although without mentioning by name such critics of Hezbollah as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan.



Post a Comment

<< Home