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Reactions in the Arab world to the space shuttle 'Columbia' disaster

Reactions in the Arab media to the Columbia space shuttle disaster were varied. The editorials of several newspapers brought grief over the tragedy. In contrast, many columnists in their interpretations linked the disaster to the Israeli-Arab conflict, to the expected war in Iraq, and to the US's fight against terrorism

From: Mamari website

One of the Columbia crossings over the Mazat
Reactions in the Arab media to the Columbia space shuttle disaster were varied. The editorials of several newspapers brought grief over the tragedy. In contrast, many columnists in their interpretations linked the disaster to the Israeli-Arab conflict, the expected war in Iraq, and the US's fight against terrorism. Some took a mocking tone in their columns about the disaster that befell the USA, while giving special emphasis to the death of the Israeli astronaut, Ilan Ramon.

In the editorial of the Saudi-London daily, "Al-Sharq Al-Ost", which usually takes a moderate position, it is written that "the fall of the ferry caused shock throughout the entire world. The seven astronauts killed in this tragedy represented the human race in their quest to decipher the secrets of the universe. This is part of a collective dream that died with them..."[1]

The editorial of the Jordanian daily, "Al-Dastur", also expressed similar feelings: "There is no doubt that the event of the crash of the space shuttle, "Columbia" is a shock to all of humanity and not only to the American people."[2]

The columnist, Arib Al-Rantawi, wrote, also in the Jordanian "Al-Dastur", about the expressions of joy that have multiplied since the disaster on the websites of the Islamic extremists. "Only the sick and the weak-minded dance for joy over the 'Columbia' ferry disaster", he wrote, "this is not the kind of event that requires joy for Eid." Ultimately, the American space program is part of the scientific heritage of humanity...

After the theory of "national terrorism" was rejected as an explanation for the Columbia disaster, it seems that this did not please some and they rushed to develop a version of the "revenge of heaven" against the infidels and the arrogant... Once again the Arab mind is revealed as an inexhaustible reservoir of "irrationality", as if we were a nation that is not Learns from her defeats and disasters and is quick to tell legends at every intersection. This is what happened in 1967 and tragically repeated itself in the Gulf War... and here we are repeating the same stories now."[3]

On the other hand, the Secretary General of Hezbollah, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, found it difficult to feel sorrow. In a speech he gave in Beirut, Sheikh Nasrallah said: "What happened yesterday is a message to all of humanity, and especially to the Arab and Islamic nations, and to the nations of the Third World. This is a message to all those who thought in recent years that the USA is God... America, the superpower on obedience, its science, and its invasion of space threatens the earth with war... but yesterday it stood amazed in front of the space shuttle exploding in the middle of the sky and falling to the ground without anyone being able to do anything. The USA stood yesterday, whether it wanted to or not, submissive to the will of Allah".[4]

Ilan Ramon
Most of the references following the disaster dealt with the first Israeli astronaut, Ilan Ramon. The one who chose not to mention it was the spokesman of the Iranian Foreign Ministry, Riza Atzafi, who expressed "sorrow over the incident of the explosion of the shuttle 'Columbia' in the air of the USA and condolences to the members of the Indian and American crew. Iran distinguishes between political disagreements between itself and the USA, and scientific and humanitarian issues and expresses the hope that such events will not prevent the science centers from continuing their struggle to discover the secrets of the universe".[5]

Compared to the Iranian speaker, much less diplomatic language was used in the Arab world. The Lebanese Druze leader and member of parliament, Walid Jonblat, declared: "I would like to feel sorry for the astronauts who died yesterday, but my joy was great, because among them was an Israeli or a Jewish astronaut - there is no difference - who used to be part of the Jewish crime army..."[6]

Under the title "Ramon to Hell", Hamed Salmin, a columnist in "Al-Bian" from the United Arab Emirates, wrote: "Sadness and joy are mixed at the sight of the wreckage of the American space shuttle 'Columbia' scattered in the Texas sky. These conflicting feelings cause their owners to search the recesses of their souls and look for the reasons for sadness and joy... An atmosphere of sadness and astonishment took over the Israelis the other day when NASA announced [Ramon's] death... This is enough to arouse feelings of joy in every beating heart of Arabism and Islam...

It is possible that the sight of the crash of the 'Columbia' ferry in the town of Palestine in Texas reminds the Israeli people of the daily tragedy of the Palestinians, the sorrow, the blood, and the massacres carried out by the army of the [Zionist] entity in the occupied lands. However, it does not seem that the great majority of Israelis have feelings for others and they do not attach any importance to the other person and their suffering... a fact that was clearly revealed in their coalescence around Ariel Sharon in the last elections...

All these facts must arouse conflicting feelings regarding the shuttle event which is, in fact, a temporary blow in the field of development, scientific research, and space exploration. NASA's research and achievements ultimately benefit human life and human culture, and not just Americans.

Therefore, the Columbia disaster is a loss for all, despite the conflicting feelings. Best condolences to the American people and the families of the six American astronauts; And Shermon will go to hell. There is no sorrow for him.”[7]

Similar things were written by Nour al-Din Sate, a columnist in the pro-Syrian Lebanese daily, "Al-Sapir": "...even though the disaster will not change American imperialist behavior around the world, the loss caused by the breakup of Colombia is not limited to America, which will continue to be a focal point An appeal to the minds of the entire world and its geniuses, six of whom were lost the day before yesterday; As for the seventh, his expertise was in the demolition of residential buildings and precise damage to civilian targets, so he should not be classified as a genius."[8]

A columnist in "Al-Dastur", on the Muhammad Ali Vardam website, criticized the American media coverage of the disaster: "...the explosion of the shuttle did not make us happy and we share with the American people their grief over the death of six American researchers and scientists; However, naturally we do not feel any sympathy for the Israeli fighter pilot who bombed the Iraqi reactor and participated in the 1973 war.

We feel relieved, because such an event could have been used as an excuse to start a war against Iraq and restore the crazy atmosphere that prevailed in the world following September 11, in light of the American skill in lies and sewing accusations... however, there is no doubt that there was a cheap media exploitation of the death of the Israeli astronaut in the explosion.

I followed CNN's coverage and it struck me that there were more expressions of grief and horror about the Israeli astronaut than about the six Americans. The story of his life and the life of his family was shown on television which showed how he carried a picture of a girl who was claimed to have been killed in World War II. The blonde reporter for CNN in Tel Aviv almost burst into tears when she spoke about the shock in Israel following the event, which is added to the Israelis' suffering from the 'Palestinian terror'. They had to point out all the time that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East and the most technologically and scientifically advanced country, a fact that allowed it to launch an astronaut in cooperation with NASA.

What we say is not due to envy or lack; In the Arab world we have excellent scientists who surpass the Israeli ones. NASA itself has hundreds of Arab scientists who have helped tremendously in the advancement of space technology, the most important of whom is Dr. Farouk Al-Baz. Also, an Arab astronaut from Saudi Arabia participated in the space journey in the mid-XNUMXs. We know very well that the choice of this Israeli for the cursed journey was a political decision. The man is not a scientist, but a fighter pilot and the propaganda that accompanied him was more political than scientific.

The incident of the explosion of 'Columbia' passed peacefully this time, as far as the Arabs were concerned, and it was not used for one of the crazy hate attacks fueled by the American media. However, the event testifies to the spread of Zionism and pro-Israel currents in the American media; Everyone tried to use the event to make propaganda for Israel. The sorrow for the Israeli was greater than the sorrow for the six Americans, which was unbelievable."[9]

Abd al-Wahhab Badarkhan, a columnist in "Al-Hayat", also commented on the media issue: "What did CNN and the other television networks discover following the explosion of the shuttle 'Columbia'? An Israeli pilot was among the crew members. They almost forgot the other six were Americans, even though they too had wives, husbands, and children. Like all skilled media people, who are not afraid of everything that is Jewish, the CNN media people made sure to report to the viewing public around the world that Ilan Ramon is a member of a family some of whose members died in the 'Holocaust'. Moreover, he was presented as an unusual hero because he participated in Israel's wars against the Arabs. What meaning can this have, except that he surpasses his American friends on the journey of 'Columbia'? However, his superiority stood out even more when it was noted that he participated in the demolition of the Iraqi reactor...

For hours, the event was presented as a chapter in the events of a new and imaginary 'Holocaust'... Although President Bush's words were more like stating that this is an American tragedy and nothing else and that this is part of the expected price for American supremacy, the pro-Zionist media insisted on continuing to put the Israeli in one hand [of the scales] and The Americans are on a different scale, as if he died alone in the event..."[10]

Whereas Shuki Hafez, wrote in the Omani daily, "Al-Watan": "...there is an interpretation similar to the visions of those who see the stars and read the palm of their hands and is based on the following factors: the shuttle carried the first Israeli astronaut and it fell in an area called Palestine in the state of Texas, the place where the civil war took place And the rebellion against Abraham Lincoln's call to free the slaves and the Ku Klux Klan gangs [so in the original]... This is also the birthplace of the American president, George W. Bush, who is preparing to ignite the fire of a new war in the Middle East. The supporters of this interpretation tend to think that the event is a prophecy of the approach of the real American fall in the Middle East...

The attempts to thwart the Palestinian resistance to the Israeli occupation and to use state terrorism through killing, arresting, and blowing up Palestinian homes are acts similar to the boarding of a wandering Jew on an American space shuttle for reasons unknown to anyone, and burning him in the atmosphere..."[11]

Some columnists reacted by mocking the disaster. Fateh Abdel Salam wrote in the London-based Arabic-language daily, "Al-Zaman": "...if the shuttle had exploded during takeoff, like the Challenger, another reason would have been added to the promotion of the war against Iraq. However, it was destroyed on its way back from space, and despite this, it cannot be ruled out that the American mind harbors thoughts about terrorists and unruly countries on other planets."[12]

Whereas in the Libyan newspaper "Al-Zahaf Al-Akhchar" Khaled Alam wrote: "...the Americans, whose administration placed them in a state of hostility with the world due to its blind policies, could not find anyone to comfort them even in this dark moment... What will Bush tell his people this time? Did bin Laden fly a space shuttle similar to the Columbia, crash into it and cause an explosion? Or maybe 'Hamas' was aided by the short-range 'Qassam' missiles for this purpose? Maybe [the disaster was done on purpose] to be used as an excuse by Blix and ElBaradei to explain the danger of the nuclear warheads capable of crossing the atmosphere and hitting this shuttle? Or maybe the criminals this time are [Syrian comedian] Darid Laham or [Egyptian comedian] Adel Emam?…

Our only condolences to the American people are for his administration, whose bad luck seems to play an important role in exposing his unreliability... Is this not evidence of the misery of Bush and his administration, who have lost human emotion and true love in their relationship to the world, their governments and their people?" [13]

On the other hand, the editorial of the Kuwaiti daily, "Al-Watan", used the disaster to mock the Arab world itself: "...the 'eternal' disaster and the bitter truth that was revealed with the explosion of 'Columbia' is the 'scientific poverty' from which the Arab and Islamic societies suffer. There is no doubt that we will never hear of a space disaster that hit these companies that excel in global social disasters... If we ever enter space, we will do so through the terror gate. We are professionals in the field of terrorism of all types: ideological terrorism, political terrorism... Perhaps it would be wise to build a space shuttle [Arab] not to reach scientific discoveries, but so that we load it with groups of the same epidemics that hit the nation and explode it in the sky so that the earth can breathe a sigh of relief from their suffering and disasters.

We propose to do this at the next Arab summit in Bahrain in March. Then [Arab League Secretary General] Amru Musa will announce the construction of the shuttle 'Terror-Inger', weighing a Challenger, whose purpose is to fulfill the lofty goals of humanity by erasing the petrified minds and those with barren ideas that have distorted the image of Islam and brought our societies and the whole world into conflicts that increased the enmity and deepened the ignorance..."[14]

However, Bassem Sakjaha, a columnist in "Al-Dastur", solved the issue of American technological superiority over the Arab world in a different way, in his writing: "...the shuttle, it was said, was on a mission concerning the spy satellites against Iraq before the war... while we are sad For the loss of the missing [astronauts], if they were peaceful, we have no choice but to look at this evil use of science, which was created to serve humanity and not the other way around; [Science was created] to put satellites in the service of the human race and ecology and not to train the atmosphere to carry out massacres and wars.

From the news coming from the USA we learn about the fragility of the regime and society there. Immediately a state of emergency was declared, the air was filled with interpretations, and fear took over everything. For a moment we thought that the Americans live in our region that has not seen a single quiet day, a fact for which the credit goes to the same technologies invented by the American mind, which specializes in methods of killing and destruction..."[15]

Joy to Id
On Islamic websites, expressions of joy abounded, as did theories about the metaphysical reasons for the ferry crash. Particularly prominent was the article by Sheikh Dr. Ali bin Mahagi al-Tamimi, an American citizen, who expressed joy over the disaster. The article was published on the website : "...the whole world heard about the ferry crash incident. There is no doubt that the heart of every believer jumped for joy at the disaster that befell their greatest enemy. I had some thoughts in my heart that I would like to share with my brother:

First, the name of the ferry, 'Columbia', originates from the sailor Columbus who discovered the American continent in 1492 following the fall of Granada, the last of the Islamic strongholds in Andalusia. It is known that with the discovery of the two American continents, the Byzantines, that is, the Christians of Europe, took advantage of the resources of these two continents to take over the Islamic world. With the fall of Colombia, a thought arose in my heart that this is a strong sign that the supremacy of the West and especially the USA, which began 500 years ago, is about to fall quickly, God willing, as happened to the ferry.

Second, the shuttle crew included the Israeli astronaut who the Israeli ambassador to the UN said carries with him all the hopes and aspirations of the Israeli people. Therefore, these hopes and aspirations were burned, by the will of Allah, with the fall and burning of the ferry.

Third, CNN initially reported that the shuttle crashed near the city of Palestine, Texas. I said to myself: Allah Akbar, so, by Allah's will, America will fall in Palestine. Also, Texas is the state of the stupid President George Bush Jr. We hope that God willing, as the ferry fell on his state, his stupid policies will collapse the foundations of his state on his head.

Fourth, in the president's obituary for the American people... he quoted from the book of Isaiah... I said to myself: Praise be to Allah, in this book is the prophecy about the coming of the Prophet Muhammad and the destruction of the Jews at the end of time...

Whoever sought to uplift the Jews, upon whom Allah has imposed humiliation and misery... must be hurt by the humiliation and divine wrath..."[16]

Reactions to the space shuttle 'Columbia' disaster (2)

The Egyptian press
In complete contrast to their behavior following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the columnists in the establishment newspapers in Egypt were careful to avoid any expression of joy over the Columbia ferry disaster.

Ahmed Regev, a columnist in the establishment Egyptian Al-Akhbar, who mocked the US after September 11 and even expressed support for Hitler in some of his articles, now wrote: "I feel sorrow over the space shuttle disaster and the death of the astronauts. This is a scientific defeat for humanity and I pray to Allah that the channel 'Al-Jazeera' does not report to us, as usual, about bin Laden's revelation of his opinion declaring his responsibility for the ferry explosion."

Mahmoud Abdel-Moneam Marad, who often attacks the US and Israel in his daily column in Al-Akhbar, added to this: "There is no doubt that the crash of the American space shuttle, 'Columbia', causes a general feeling of sorrow, due to the end The sadness that befell the seven astronauts who risked their lives to discover the sky, to serve science, to reveal the universe and the possibility of life on other planets instead of the earth, which is already narrow for us and has seen a retreat in all areas of human life.

The common man can only feel grief and sorrow for the painful event and it is unthinkable that there could be people who would feel joy for Id or any other feeling except for sorrow due to the sad end of the seven brave heroes, including the Israeli astronaut, because they all served humanity and the scientific research that may bring For extremely important results for the future of man on Earth and his future in space...

It doesn't matter at all what the citizenship of those astronauts was... By God, there is no joy for Eid, only a prayer to God that this tragic event will not happen again, even if the victims are citizens of countries towards which we feel outrage, from political or other environments..."

Whereas the columnist in Al-Ahram, Hazem Abdel Rahman, wrote that "every big step in the life of human societies is associated with sacrifice, which sometimes amounts to the sacrifice of human life... There is no doubt that the plan to fly into space and discover its secrets is not unusual in this respect... This plan brought To the progress in our knowledge about the universe and the solar system and to the development of communication technology in an unprecedented way... The impact of the space program on the life of human society is no less than that of the age of geographical discoveries or the first industrial revolution, which changed the life of the human race.... The victims of the Columbia shuttle are rightly considered 'martyrs' of the journey of human progress..."

The Saudi press
The Saudi press dealt with the ferry disaster in a very limited way, mainly from the news aspect, and only a few articles were written on the subject. In the editorial of the English-language Saudi daily, Saudi Gazette, it is written: "...there is a moral issue that the American public must ponder in this moment of sorrow. This is not the first time that the world public has expressed shock and sorrow over an American tragedy involving several people. A person is a person and the loss of one person's life, according to the Koran, is like the loss of all humanity. Do Americans feel similar feelings about people dying or being intentionally killed in far greater numbers elsewhere in the world? Relatives and friends of hundreds of thousands of people killed in the last twenty years are waiting for an answer to this question."

Najib Al-Zamel, wrote in his column in the Saudi daily, "Al-Yum": "...I do not join the Eid celebrations. Death is always death and sorrow is sorrow. We must face the horror of death and the sorrow that follows it, first of all. But, Columbia fell from the highest layers of the atmosphere and its fall has many consequences, one of which is that question marks will be placed on the legend of NASA, on its breakthrough into space and perhaps also on the entire space program.

We are saying that even before the collapse of Columbia, the American view regarding the relationship [of the US] to the world has completely collapsed. America, which sees itself as a symbol of freedom, justice, and the perfect constitution, has become a stockpile of weapons for a military campaign around the entire world... The world has become a target map for the American arrows represented by the war trinity - Bush, Rumsfeld, Condoleezza - and behind them the famous device, Dick Cheney . I say that we reflect upon the horror of death and the sorrow that follows and ask America and its famous trinity to reflect on the spectacles of death and funerals [that will come], if they ignite the war."

Islamic elements
In Islamic circles, expressions of joy over the ferry disaster continued. Dr. Abdel-Aziz Al-Rantisi, one of the leaders of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, wrote on the organization's website: "...the explosion of the Columbia ferry is, most likely, part of divine punishment for America and together with Zionism, for the massacres they are committing In Muslims, the destruction of their lives, the humiliation of their dignity, and the desire [of the Americans and the Zionists] to globalize the corruption...

If we listened to Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, the first Arab and Muslim astronaut, he says that safety at NASA is very meticulous and therefore it is not possible that the cause of the incident is an omission in this area... Therefore, the conviction is growing that this is a divine punishment. Even if there was a technical fault, this does not rule out the possibility of divine punishment...

The legitimate question is, is it likely that America will stop killing innocent Muslims? Is it likely that she will learn her lesson and stop her plots against the Palestinian people and the Iraqi people? Is it likely that she will stop her propaganda war against the religion of Allah, since "the religion with Allah is Islam"? Will it stop usurping the resources of the Muslims in the Gulf and the Caspian Sea?...

I am convinced that America, which is suffering from megalomania, will not wake up from its intoxication, but I am also sure that it will not be different from the nations that preceded it and that the destruction caused to its predecessors will surely harm it, God willing..."

The fundamentalist Islamic leader living in London, Abu Hamza al-Masri, told the "Al-Sharq al-Ost" daily: "This is a punishment from Allah, this is how the Muslims see the event. The purpose of the event was the triangle of evil, since the ferry was carrying Americans, Israelis, and Hindus - who are the triangle of evil against Islam. This is a message to the American people according to which Bush's term is nothing but a series of curses imposed on you and which will lead to the elimination of your resources and the elimination of the false American dream.... This is a divine message to the Israelis, stating that they are not welcome in space."

Anjim Shodri, the leader of the "Al-Mohajiron" organization in London, told "Al-Sharq Al-Ost": "Muslims do not shed tears. Muslims around the world are happy about what happened... and they see this event as a sign that Allah has answered their prayers... The response I heard from Muslims in Britain was that the event was a sign from Allah."

[1] Al-Sharq al-Ost (London), 3.2.2003.
[2] Al-Dastur (Jordan), 3.2.2003.
[3] Al-Dastur (Jordan), 3.2.2003.
[4] AFP, taken from Al-Byan (Ma'am) 3.2.2003/XNUMX/XNUMX.
[5] Jamhori Islami (Iran), 3.2.2002
[6] Al-Sapir (Lebanon), 3.2.2003.
[7] Al-Bayan (Ma'am), February 3.2.2003, XNUMX.
[8] Al-Sapir (Lebanon), 3.2.2003.
[9] Al-Dastur (Jordan), 3.2.2003.
[10] Al-Hayat (London), 3.2.2003.
[11] Al-Watan (Oman), 3.2.2003.
[12] Al-Zaman (London), 3.2.2003.
[13] Al-Zhaf Al-Akhchar (Libya), 3.2.2003.
[14] Al-Watan (Kuwait), 3.2.2003.
[15] Al-Dastur (Jordan), 3.2.2003.
Courtesy of the Mamari website

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