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EDITIONS
Thursday, 30 December, 1999, 15:54 GMT
Islamic world's view of millennium
Gaza pyramids
Egypt's millennium celebrations have been criticised
In a world dominated by Western culture, the new millennium appears to be gripping the entire globe. But many newspapers in Islamic countries have questioned its importance.

"It is wrong to assume that the celebrations will be a global affair," a commentary in the Tehran-based Iran Daily said.

Into 2000
"According to the Islamic lunar calendar the year is 1420, and in accordance with the Iranian solar calendar the year is 1378. Hence the third millennium for us is still far off," the paper said.

In fact, it insisted that this was hardly a time for celebrations.

No change

"Poverty and hunger, wars and civil upheavals, disease, exploitation and embargoes are what the lot on this earth is afflicted with. And the saddest part is that there is no visible signs that this tragic state of affairs will change in the near future."

"So what is there for us to celebrate?" the commentary asked.


The Western world must realise that it has failed to create a better world

Iran Daily newspaper
"It is difficult to understand how some Muslim countries like Egypt is spending millions of dollars on organising millennium celebrations, money which could have been used for more useful purposes."

The West, the paper said, had created a deep divide between the haves and the have-nots through its scientific and military superiority.

"Man has reached the moon but human hearts on this earth remain millions of miles apart ... The Western world must realise that it has failed to create a better world."

But the commentary concluded with the hope that things may improve.

"The start of the new millennium can only be a reminder for many of us that there is much wrong with this world. Let us hope and pray that the new millennium, according to the Christian calendar, will usher in changes for the better for the whole of mankind and not a selected few."

Western hysteria

An article in the Saudi newspaper Al-Jazirah was equally downbeat over the millennium, and the fears surrounding the millennium bug in particular.

"Those who created this storm about the millennium managed to attract millions of dollars, and this is their aim," the paper said.


The time, being the end of the month, the year, or the millennium makes no difference

Al-Jazirah
"This is while the poor people of the Third World have fallen into the trap of the alarm, and their money has flowed to the creators of the myth, who sucked it up and managed to impose the idea that serious things will take place with the start of the third millennium."

But the writer dismissed all the fears.

"These are all myths produced in the West as a result of a spiritual vacuum."

"But why did the Arabs and Muslims fall into the trap, even though their religion is one of reason and logic that purged man's thought of myths?" the article asked.

"The time, being the end of the month, the year, or the millennium makes no difference, but as the new millennium approaches, attention should have been focused on empty bellies."

'Great opportunity'

The editor of the Yemen Times, however, was more upbeat about the event.


It is an exciting time, which we should make the most of

Walid Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf, Yemen Times
"It is a historical week that marks a milestone in the history of our planet," Walid Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf wrote.

"It is a new year, a new century and a new millennium. So doesn't it deserve a bit of planning from all of us, including the Yemen Times?"

"We need to understand that the coming year could be an opening to develop new ideas and implement projects that could change our lives," he said.

"On the personal level I have already developed many ideas, and can't wait for the coming year to begin to implement them all."

"It is an exciting time, which we should make the most of," he concluded.

"It is a great opportunity to forget the painful past and look to the future with hope and anticipation."

Source: BBC Monitoring Newsfile, Caversham

BBC Monitoring http://www.monitor.bbc.co.uk, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages

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29 Dec 99 | Africa
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