x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Killings of Myanmar Muslims go unnoticed

Arabic newspapers say the border attack in Sinai is an act that will benefit Israel. Other newspapers comment on the killings of Myanmar Muslims and Ramadan drama series.

Killings of Myanmar Muslims go unnoticed

"A genocidal massacre is taking place in Myanmar these days, in the heart of Asia," wrote columnist Hussein Shabakshi in yesterday's edition of the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al Awsat.

World powers were quick to embrace Myanmar as soon as the reclusive, resource-rich country announced structural reforms earlier this year. Now, however, it appears that those world powers are too slow and too shy in condemning the Myanmar government for conducting unlawful killings of dozens of Muslims since June, he said.

According to conflicting reports, the death toll is anywhere between 80 and 200.

Formerly known as Burma, Myanmar had been a prosperous and stable country after its independence from Britain in 1948 until it was taken over by an iron-fisted junta in 1962.

The persecution of the Muslim minority in the country, poorly covered by the media as it is, has a history. For instance, about 25,000 Muslims were killed by extremist Buddhists in 1962. In 2009, about 1,500 members of the country's Muslim minority were displaced and fled to Thailand.

Unfortunately, even the reaction of the Burmese rights activist-turned politician, Aung San Suu, was lukewarm, the columnist said. The words she used were "more like sign language" and fell way short of "unequivocal condemnation" of her country's government.

Deadly Sinai border attack is a premeditated act that only benefits Israel in the long term

Sunday's terrorist attack on an Egyptian checkpoint along the border with Israel and Gaza which left 16 Egyptian officers dead and seven injured, is an extremely suspicious and dangerous incident that evokes many questions, Egyptian novelist Alaa Aswany wrote in the Cairo-based daily Al Masry Al Youm.

Masked gunmen opened fire on the Egyptian border police and commandeered two armoured vehicles to attack the Israeli borders, but Israel thwarted the assault and declared having destroyed one of the two vehicles.

"Israel has predicted terrorist attacks on Sinai, and warned its citizens against visiting South Sinai. So, if this attack is expected and declared before it occurred, why have the Egyptian military leaders not taken the necessary precautions to foil the attackers and protect the martyred soldiers?" the writer asked.

Since the first day of the Egyptian revolution, Israel clearly sided with Hosni Mubarak who is described by Israeli officials was a strategic asset to Israel. But the revolution won and Mubarak was unseated.

"It would be naïve to imagine that Israel would be happy that the revolution has been victorious or that it would not interfere while the democratic transition is being completed," he said.

Israel is fully aware of Egypt's influence in the Arab world, and of its abilities, within few years, to become a major power and to lead the Arab world, which is why Israel is making every effort to block this awakening.

"This terrorist operation benefits only Israel, and there are considerable doubts surrounding Israel's role in this attack," the author observed. "Why and how did Israel predict the terrorist attack days before it took place?"

What would prompt terrorists to enter Israel with two armoured vehicles? Did they imagine they would carry out an operation inside Israel with two vehicles only? Were they not aware of being under control by the Israeli forces and that they would be bombarded once they got close to the borders?

"The terrorists' entry to Israel adds to the doubts on the latter's role in the attack," he said. "Added to the fact that Israeli's attack on the two vehicles inside Israel dashed every hope in identifying the perpetrators and who stand behind them."

Israel has prepared the world for this moment. It has caused a stir in the western media about the security vacuum in Sinai, and its defence minister made a statement blaming the Egyptian army for failing to secure borders and hinted at calling international forces to protect Israel's security.

"This makes the act seem premeditated," he noted. "Israel's record demonstrates that it never misses the opportunity to take advantage of any incident that takes place in Egypt or the region to embark on more expansion and aggression."

Ramadan drama: does it need expletives?

Every Ramadan brings the most colourful palette of television products - soap operas, telefilms and generally a lot of drama - to the Arab telly. Yet the remarkable quantity of those products fails miserably to match the quality, wrote Dr Khaled Al Khaja, dean of the school of information, media and humanities at the Ajman University of Science and Technology, in a column for the Dubai-based newspaper Al Bayan.

"Artistic value is lost amid unjustifiably poor dialogues … and unusually expletive-ridden language, one that we are not used to on our Arab TV channels," the writer said. "Some of the words used are in fact actionable … and the language ends up chipping away at the creative value."

Is Arabic drama turning into such a verbally violent territory, that it sickens the old and confuses the young?

The counter-argument never gets old, the writer said. Producers and screenwriters would always tell you that life and society are not perfect, that art helps us put our failings out there, and that confronting them is a worthier effort than ignoring them.

Sure, but if we follow this logic, the writer went on, we will end up in a situation where anything goes. "Too many people smoke around the world … But why are we putting a ban on cigarette ads?"

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk

translation@thenational.ae