Al-Ahram Weekly   Al-Ahram Weekly
13 - 19 April 2000
Issue No. 477
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875 Issues navigation Current Issue Previous Issue Back Issues

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Tribute where it's due

Sir-The critique of the papal apology in Al-Ahram Weekly (16-22 March) ignores a few fundamental facts. Most importantly, Georges Jabbour, formerly adviser to Syrian President Assad and for some time now to the prime minister of Syria, has for the last few years been conducting a respectful campaign aimed at having the "Holy Father," the pope, apologise to the Muslim peoples for the atrocities committed by the Crusaders. The last "offensive" Jabbour launched on this front was on 16 October 1999, at an international conference I organised and coordinated at Binghamton University, State University of New York, where the distinguished MIT professor of architecture, Nasser Rabbat, delivered a paper on the visual milieu of the counter-Crusade in Syria and Egypt... Of course, as a citizen and an intellectual, he has the right to evaluate papal and other actions on the basis of his personal preference... However, for a venerable journal such as yours to go to Rabbat in the US for an opinion instead of going to Syria for a meaningful analysis by the initiator of the idea of "a papal apology to Muslims" seems strange to me, and perhaps more than that!

As an old citizen-professor and a Christian of the Eastern Catholic rite, I strongly feel that, in the first place, "his holiness" does not speak for me and billions of other Christians and, secondly, that the pope's apology is neither necessary nor significant except as a personal act of contrition that deserves to be emulated by those of us who feel the way he does in regard to present and past atrocities committed by our adopted country, the US, against the Native Americans, the Blacks, the Iraqis and Serbs (the latter two in the name of the United Nations and NATO respectively), and, last but not least, indirectly against the Palestinians and, directly, the Arab and Muslim states whose despotic regimes exist thanks to our government's support... But, really, in connection with the above, what would an apology by Bill Clinton mean to anybody?

At any rate, I think that, if you think that the papal apology is significant historically, which you obviously do, you should acknowledge and honour the person responsible for its inception and who, at his own expense, has been struggling intellectually to bring about its adoption by the head of his church: Georges Jabbour of Damascus, Syria.

Khalil I Semaan
Professor emeritus
BU/SUNY organiser and coordinator of CEMERS 32d annual conference on The Crusades: Other Experiences, Alternate Perspectives

Hard work on software

Sir- I would like to thank you for an article written by Amira Howeidy (Al-Ahram Weekly, 30 March - 5 April) about software development in Egypt. I thought that there were no technical journalists for our industry. Now, after reading her article, I am sure that I was wrong.

Although this message is sent to congratulate Ms Howeidy for her good job, I also take the chance to thank Al-Ahram Weekly for its serious topics and coverage.

Ahmed Abbas
IBM Egypt


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