Arabs should also turn their fury at their own

Arabs should also turn their fury at their own

International Herald Tribune
Massoud A. Derhally IHT Monday, May 17, 2004

AMMAN, Jordan To the majority of Arabs, the United States is a country
of double standards, and its leadership expounds the arrogance
and belligerence of an imperialist power. Thus the abuses at Abu
Ghraib prison will be etched forever in Arabs’ minds: If only the
American people knew what their country did abroad, many Arabs think,
if only Americans understood the anguish brought on by Washington’s
self-serving foreign policies, then they would understand why so much
Arab hate is directed toward them.

Unfortunately, most Arabs end the argument here. Yes, the repulsive
prison pictures vindicate some Arab grievances. But if there is a
lesson to be learned, it is that Arabs should be equally enraged by
the deficiency of human rights in their own countries.

Countless acts of violence have taken place in the Arab world that
dwarf the abuse of Abu Ghraib. There are wretched human rights
violations every day in the Middle East, yet they somehow aren’t met
with the same indignation and high standards of accountability Arabs
hold America to.

Why is that? The United States is a beacon of democracy, freedom
and transparency. It is the very absence of these fundamental values
that underscore the impotence of the Arab people. Arabs need to ask
themselves why it is that so many places have experienced their own
form of renaissance – be it Latin America, South Africa or Asia –
and why they haven’t.

That is the lesson to be learned from this fiasco in Iraq. If
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld can exhibit some humility,
so can our leaders in admitting their mistakes – and so can we,
in our struggle to define ourselves in this century.

It is true that America’s unrelenting support of Israel, now anchored
more than ever after President George W. Bush’s unconditional
endorsement of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s unilateral disengagement
plan, provides ammunition to hate. But invoking the Israel card for
most Arab governments has, by and large, meant giving the stamp of
approval to crackdowns, the denial of civil liberties and the creation
of systems that instill fear and paranoia.

In this sense, Arab anger at America is a culmination of the
frustrations in their own lives: the inability of people to vent their
anger openly at their own governments, the failure to rise up against
injustices committed in their own backyards, and the absence of checks
and balances that in democracies ensure that those in authority are
held accountable.

Democracy, some say, is not viable or applicable for Arabs. Arabs need
to be ruled by an iron fist, the argument goes, and the culture of
the Arab world doesn’t allow for the expression of different opinions
or the coexistence of different ideologies. Such statements expound
the very stupidity that lead to the massacre of Muslims in Bosnia and
Kosovo, of Jews in World War II, and of Armenians by Turks after World
War I. It is this line of reasoning that has fostered an environment
that nurtures zealotry – a defeatist mentality that perpetuates the
subservient role Arabs have become accustomed to.

If there were a single transparent and democratic system in place today
in the Arab world, those calling for reforms would be hailed and not
arrested. Women would be empowered. Were pictures of torture, abuse
and humiliation of prisoners to come out, then perhaps the region would
escape this twilight zone and experience its own renaissance. So when
Arabs look at those pictures of Iraqis being humiliated, they should
also take a look in the mirror – they may not like what they see.

Massoud A. Derhally is a freelance journalist and a former
correspondent for Agence France-Presse.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS