x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Arab Batman sidekick irks right-wing bloggers

A daily roundup of regional news translated from the Arabic press

"Oftentimes, my nine-year-old son would ask me: 'What was Batman like when you were a kid?' Every time I fail to come up with an answer, so to corner me, he asks about other characters like Mickey Mouse, Lucky Luke, Asterix and Obelix and other heroes who've become a reference to all our children," wrote Shaker Noury in the Emirati newspaper Al Bayan.

There is a poignant takeaway from this: "We are still incapable of making an Arab-Muslim character that speaks to our children." That is perhaps what prompted the western movie-making machine to try and create our heroes for us.

Most recently, the British comic book artist David Hine created Batman's new sidekick, a good-natured Muslim character of Algerian stock who helps fight crime in Paris.

Though the faith and ethnicity of this new figure are justified by the socio-political context of the new Batman's series - a France that suffers from suburban instability caused by disgruntled Arab-Muslim immigrants - conservative bloggers in the West were convinced the choice of the new character was political and cracked jokes about how the Arab hero had better go stone some women rather than fight crime.

This would warrant a more poignant conclusion: even if we had our own heroes, "the other" would not be willing to appreciate them, because they wouldn't fit in the mould of the villain Muslim.

Lebanon must start to act like a state

"The first lesson that lifeguards learn is not to let the person drowning clutch them or grab their neck. And the first lesson that anyone involved in Lebanon's affairs must learn is not to dance to the tunes of the Lebanese but, instead, pull them up to state status and deal with them accordingly," commented Tariq al Homayed, the editor-in-chief of the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al Awsat.

When the Hizbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah met the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during his visit to Lebanon last year, the two met at the Iranian embassy. Mr Ahmadinejad was not blindfolded and taken through a veritable maze to meet his Arab Shiite ally, as it often happens to others who wish to meet Mr Nasrallah.

This is symbolically significant; Mr Nasrallah acted like an employee coming to report to his boss. The same thing applies to other Lebanese leaders who go to Damascus to discuss their domestic issues.

The point is: states should not stoop to the level of sect leaderships or militias that hold summits in caves. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey have recently announced the suspension of their mediation efforts in the current Lebanese crisis because the key Lebanese players "were not responding".

It is high time Lebanon is dealt with as a state, not as something else. "And if the Lebanese do not conform, let them pay the price."

For Tunisians there is no going back

Tunisia's "boat of change" has not berthed yet and is on its way to safer shores from the tumults of a revolution. It will necessarily face the gales and the big swells, wrote Amjad Arar, a columnist with the Sharjah-based newspaper Al Khaleej.

Yet, amid all the uncertainty and legitimate concerns about a popular relapse, one thing is clear: there is no going back. The Tunisian people proved that they not only have a fierce will for liberty and dignity, but also, perhaps more importantly, the circumspection not to rest on their laurels and the resolve not to let their historic uprising be hijacked by repentant figures of the old regime.

"The recent wave of resignations of emblematic personalities from the previously ruling, now-emaciated, Constitutional Democratic Rally party, is owed to the alertness of the Tunisian people who are intent on defending their revolution from hijacking attempts and other political shticks."

True, the Tunisian uprising was not regimented by a political party or civil society institution, which means it did not have a plan for what comes after the toppling of the old regime. "But the wheel of history does not roll backwards.No one person or group will be able to reproduce the defunct regime. Some may try to manoeuvre to preserve their privileges, but the democratisation process will not be stopped."

Tony Blair must be tried for Iraq war

"The former British prime minister and current peace envoy of the Quartet on the Middle East, Tony Blair, did not surprise us when he revealed during his second testimony before the Chilcot Inquiry that he discussed regime change in Iraq with the former US president George W Bush right after the September 11 attacks," stated the London-based newspaper Al Quds al Arabi in its editorial.

"It has always been clear that Mr Blair was a proponent of the strategies and ideas of the neo-conservatives when it comes to launching a crusade on the Islamic world and he was on the lookout for the pretext that would cover it up." Indeed, Mr Bush himself used the word "crusade" in the run-up to the war.

Mr Blair managed to mislead the British parliament and with it the British people as to their country's actual stakes in the war. Besides causing hundreds of deaths among his own compatriots, his decision has so far led to hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths and has left behind a million widows and four million orphans.

Thus, Mr Blair and his neo-con allies have committed war crimes in broad daylight, and must be tried as such.


Digest compiled by Achraf El Bahi