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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Who is better in PR?

I was at a newsstand buying my weekly papers when my eyes fell on Hi Magazine. The magazine targets Arab youth in the Middle East and is published by the US State department. Its aim is to cascade aspects of America's everyday life and create a link between American and Arab youth. The magazine also features a section that details the success stories of different Americans and especially Arab Americans.

I remember buying this magazine a long time ago for 5 pounds ($0.83). I looked at its price and found that it now sells for 2 pounds. It seems that it wasn't selling that well and hence this decrease in price. It's very interesting what the US is doing, publishing a magazine and launching a radio and a TV station. Now, what are we doing? Where are our PR tools? It seems that our "intellectuals" and "religious" leaders are so busy laughing their heads off at America's PR while they're doing nothing to proclaim their religion that was hijacked by a group of mass murderers.

When I went to Amsterdam after 911 and wanted to take a one day visa because of a flight delay, the policeman at the airport treated my Egyptian passport as if he was handling a bag with a severed decayed cow head inside. I felt very humiliated and angry, yet I later realized that it is us Arabs and Muslims who brought this upon ourselves.

What happened after September 11? How did the majority react? How did the Arab media and the religious establishment react? First, by denying the whole thing, saying that it was a smart attack, as if they wanted to say that Arabs or Muslims are too dumb to do it. Then by circulating and believing a rumor that 4000 Jews knew about the attacks on the WTC and they didn't go to work on Sept. 11. This rumor was so powerful here; even my smart dad was on the verge of believing it. Then we were anesthetizing ourselves by news stories about how Americans are mass converting to Islam after reading a book or two or two about the faith. Well, sorry, but no 4000 Jews stayed home and opinion polls indicate that the percentage of Americans who have a negative view of Islam is increasing yearly.

Where were the mass demonstrations against Al Qaeda? Where are the mass demonstrations against the daily killings of Iraqis by terrorists in Iraq? Where are the fatwas against Bin Laden coming from the heart of Mecca? Kamal Nawash, the founder of Free Muslims Coalition, decided to organize an antiterror rally on Capitol Hill. Only a handful of people attended. Why didn't the mainstream "Muslim organizations" in America join Nawash in his demonstration? If they didn't like Nawash for one reason or another, why didn't they organize their own protests? The last time I checked, the garden in front of the congress is open for everyone.

Many Arab/Muslims might not like to demonstrate against terror while "America is killing in Iraq"? OK, for the sake of the argument, let us equate Bush and Blair with Bin Laden. In the US and Europe, thousands upon thousands marched against the war in Iraq. They took an action, they said that they are against the war and they proved it on the streets. Why aren't Muslims in Europe marching against Bin Laden? Why aren't they marching against Zarqawi today? Why did it take a train bombing for Spain's Islamic officials to issue a fatwa against Bin Laden? Why did it take bombings in London for their British counterparts to issue religious edicts against the terrorists? Besides, issuing religious edicts from an air conditioned mosque is not enough. The Western world believe in public demonstrations, if you want them to believe that Islam is a religion of peace and get a better treatment at their airport terminals, then get out of your fantasy world and start demonstrating on the streets of London, Paris, Rome, Cairo, and Mecca.

Why there aint any demonstrations or high profile fatwas against Al-Qaeda and the other terror masters? When will the good guys take over? Believe me, I have no clue.

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