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Last Updated: Friday, 10 September, 2004, 20:55 GMT 21:55 UK
Saudi-backed site deplores 9/11
By Sebastian Usher
BBC world media correspondent

Banner from Saudi-backed website
The website dissociates Arabs from 9/11
On the third anniversary of 9/11, two Saudi-financed newspapers have launched a website to give the Arab point of view on the attacks on America.

The site is in English and contains editorials and commentaries by Arab journalists on 9/11 and its aftermath.

The articles condemn acts of terror and dissociate the majority of Muslims and Arabs from 9/11.

They also say that even though most of the hijackers were Saudi, Saudi Arabia cannot be blamed for the attacks.

Poisoned image

The recent horrors of Beslan and hostage beheadings in Iraq seem to have prompted a flurry of self-criticism by Arab intellectuals.

The appearance of this new 9/11 site is a sign of this growing trend in parts of the Arab media to condemn the violence perpetrated by Islamic militants as poisoning the image of Muslims and Arabs everywhere.

Sponsored by the London-based, pan-Arab Al-Sharq Al-Awsat and the Saudi-based, English-language Arab News, the site commemorates 9/11 as a catastrophe both for America and the Arab world.

Beneath a picture of the smouldering remains of the Twin Towers, a series of articles written by Arab journalists over the past three years insist on the same point - that Arabs and Muslims must face up to the outrages being committed in their name and disown them without equivocation.

The site also functions as a continuation of Saudi Arabia's extensive PR campaign in the aftermath of 9/11 to dissociate itself from any connection to the attacks or funding for Islamic militants.

'Disrespectful'

Readers are invited to post their reactions to the articles.

The majority - mostly Americans - say they have gained a new insight into Arab and Muslim thinking.

But other postings under Arab names criticise the articles as leaning too far towards the West.

A certain Hajee Ahmed attacks the lead article for featuring a photo of an anguished woman survivor of the World Trade Centre attack caked in dust next to a text containing a sentence from the Koran.

"It is extremely disappointing and profoundly disrespectful," Hajee Ahmed writes, "that you have placed the words of the prophet Mohammed next to a picture of a woman not properly attired."


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