|Al-Ahram Weekly On-line
8 - 14 March 2001
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875||Current issue | Previous issue | Site map|
When silence killsThe British government's decision last week to ban 21, mostly Islamic, organisations it has branded as terrorist made no attempt to distinguish between legitimate resistance groups and those involved in acts of violence against innocent civilians. The list included groups such as Egypt's Al-Gama'a Al-Islamiya, which claimed responsibility for the brutal massacre in Luxor of 58 tourists and four Egyptians more than three years ago, and Jihad which carried out several anti-government attacks between 1992 and 1997. Yet it also included Lebanon's Hizbullah and several Palestinian militant groups that have been conducting what most Muslims see as legitimate resistance against illegal Israeli occupation of their land.
The list, in its present form, and despite denials by British officials, is clearly Islamophobic, a product of the dangerously prevalent view that only Muslims can be terrorists.
It effectively draws a blanket over Israel's 22 year occupation of South Lebanon by damning those who resisted it as terrorists, and attempts to do the same over Israel's ongoing occupation of Palestinian territories and campaign of terror against Palestinian civilians. And in doing so, it can only encourage extremist groups within Israel that regularly call for the uprooting of Palestinians from their own land and their deportation to other countries, along with those settlers sufficiently rabid to make their agenda chillingly clear, gathering wherever possible to chant "Kill the Arabs" and then, more often than not with the connivance of the Israeli military, turning their words into actions.
Egypt has appealed for years for European countries to ban suspected terrorists who use their territory as a base from which to plot attacks against civilians at home. Such calls went unheeded, and Egypt paid a heavy price for this deafness.
Recently, the Israeli courts released three settlers convicted of killing Palestinian civilians, including children, after serving minimal sentences -- in one case just 49 days. One can barely imagine the impetus such a selective view of justice will lend the actions of those intent on further terrorising innocent Palestinians. Yet do we hear words of condemnation from the British officials who compiled this list, supposedly in the interests of minimising the activities of those whose trade is terror?
Not one word.
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