x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

World must distinguish Islam from terrorism

A Serbian football official's over-reaction to a player's pious enthusiasm shows again the West's dear Islam, an Arabic-language pundit writes. Other topics: Syria, the world economy, and the Oslo accords

World must distinguish Islam from terrorism

The Bosnian Muslim football player Ali Hajic didn't do anything to deserve the severe punishment he received, observed columnist Mazen Hammad in the Qatari newspaper Al Watan.

He didn't say Israel is a racist state for instance, or that the president, Barack Obama, is weak, or even that the European Union is a puppet in the hands of the United States.

His crime is that upon scoring a goal for his Serbian league club Bordina, the 18-year-old player knelt to the ground and shouted "Allahu Akbar" (God is great). For this the Serbian football federation cancelled the match and suspended Hajic for two years.

"This was a typical incident depicting the Christian western world's fear of the expression 'Allahu Akbar'," said the writer. "But the player had said it in almost childish spontaneity and didn't mean in as a call for jihad or as a declaration of war on Serbia."

The severe punishment reveals the extent of Islamophobia in the consciousness of western communities where any expression of Islamic belief is directly related to Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda.

"No football federation in the world could ban the use of 'Allahu Akbar'. Muslims say it in their prayers several times a day."

When the referee held the red ticket up, he spontaneously expressed the fear of Islam that is deeply-rooted in the western mindset. The West must learn to stop the unfair association between the religion and terrorism.

The Syrian regime is slowly regressing

Syria is rising up against a Stalinist regime that the late president Hafez Al Assad put in place four decades ago and bequeathed to his son Bashar, columnist Ali Hamade wrote in the Lebanese daily Annahar.

The revolution is steadily expanding within the Syrian community, and taking root in the public political consciousness.

"Some might argue that the Damascus regime is over, and the massacres it is committing against its own people are nothing but its death pangs. It tries to resist and increase the price of its departure, but no matter how aggressive it gets, its end is near."

At the beginning of the protests in March, the world was under the illusion that Bashar Al Assad was more wise than reckless in the way he ruled. Many thought he would be aware of the transformations across the region and would act accordingly in response to his people's demands for freedom and dignity.

"But we have been disillusioned for thinking Al Assad would be capable of leading change, and the situation has reached the point of no return."

Now that the professional middle class has taken to the streets, Syria will never go back to what it was like before March 15, and the present regime will not be able to control it by sheer force.

The regime will fall and the Al Assads will have missed an irreplaceable opportunity.



World is on the verge of an economic abyss

In his daily column for the pan-Arab Al Hayat daily, the columnist Jihad al Khazen focused on the current financial crisis.

The Financial Times said the crisis is driving the world to the brink of the abyss, the writer noted, while the head of the US Federal Reserve said that for the US to default on its debts would be a financial disaster.

"In other words," the writer said, "a financial tsunami is threatening to bring down the value of the dollar and the euro to dangerous levels while the world media is preoccupied with the Murdoch scandal."

The debts of some European countries have reached daunting figures: 350 billion euros (Dh1.8 trillion) in Greece, 1.8 trillion euros in Italy. Even France is in danger with a national debt equivalent to 80 per cent of its GDP.

Meanwhile the US, a quarter of the world's economy, buckles under $14.3 trillion (Dh 52.5 trillion) of national debt, a debt that the US would be incapable of settling unless the president, Barack Obama, and the Congress agree to raise the national debt limit before August 2.

"I don't trust that the US can settle this before August 2," the writer said.

"The Republicans controlling Congress still oppose any cuts in the $650 billion defence budget that it needs to spark new wars to lose around the world."




Israel would never abolish Oslo Accords

Recent news reports say the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has asked his officials to look into the possibility of abolishing the Oslo Accords as retaliation if an independent Palestinian state is proclaimed, columnist Rashid Hassan said in the Jordanian newspaper Addustour.

But the columnist wrote "I am certain that Israel will not abolish the agreement and that the leak is part of a pressure campaign to dissuade the Palestinian Authority from going ahead with its plans at the UN General Assembly."

Close inspection reveals that Israel is in fact the sole beneficiary of the Oslo Accords, which were nothing short of disastrous from a Palestinian point of view.

The Palestinian-Israeli accords in fact recognised Israeli legitimacy over more than 78 per cent of Palestinian territory, which robbed the Palestinian people of their historic rights. The accords also led to a serious rift among Palestinians, which handicapped the Liberation Organisation.

Following the Oslo Accords, the Palestinian cause lost its priority on the Arab and international agendas.

"For these reasons and many more, Israel would not abolish the accords that granted it more legitimacy than it could have ever dreamed of."


* Digest compiled by Racha Makarem