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Thursday, 13 September, 2001, 13:32 GMT 14:32 UK
Middle East media split over attacks
Iraqi youths at Baghdad news-stand
Iraq's state-run media strongly supports the attacks
The media in the Middle East has divided along predictable lines in its reaction to the attacks on targets in the United States.

In Israel, Jerusalem Post writer Gerald M. Steinberg said armed groups such as Osama bin Laden's and the countries that harboured them had exploited the humane policies of the democracies to help to undermine them, and that jealousy among the democracies had aided the militants.

Rapid response

"Efforts to combat this modern plague were largely defensive and poorly coordinated," wrote Steinberg.

"Narrow interests and competition for status and power between the democracies weakened this effort, rendering it largely ineffective".

There is a new evil empire - the empire of terror.

Jerusalem Post

He called for a counterattack on the post-Pearl Harbour scale to "keep the modern barbarians away from the gates of civilization, and prevent another global eclipse of civilization".

The Jerusalem Post itself, in an editorial called "The new evil empire", said America had been attacked "not for what it has done wrong, but for what it has done right, and for being the hope of the entire world".

The United States should respond without waiting for "a level of proof that may never be found" and strike back on the level no less ambitious than that of the armed groups themselves, it said.

"If the democracies do not unite to defend themselves, our world will become as tragically unrecognisable as the New York skyline," the paper said.

Israelinsider magazine echoed these sentiments:

"We Israelis, who know too well the nature of suicide bombings, can only gape in horror at the scenes of devastation wrought by the enemies of democracy and humanity... We know this: the United States will exact justice on the perpetrators, and Israel will assist her ally in every way possible."

America's own fault

The response of the Iranian media was generally muted.

Iran News said simply that the attacks were a "Nightmare in New York".

"To say that we do not support such an atrocity is a gross understatement," it added.

"The world's sympathy goes towards all those victimized by this terrifying attack".

In an editorial in Iran's Resalat newspaper called "America collapses", Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh expressed regret for the suffering of innocent Americans, but pinned the attacks firmly on the "consequences of America's policies".

Bush had never predicted this calamity in any of his ambitious plans

Resalat newspaper

He also said that the attack was most probably the work of US far-right groups, drawing parallels between the initial anti-Islamic reaction to the Oklahoma bombing, which turned out to be the work of US extremist Timothy McVeigh.

"Bush's government will bear a heavy responsibility in the face of the numerous questions in people's minds... Bush had never predicted this calamity in any of his ambitious plans," he wrote.

Just reward

The Saudi newspaper Okaz, published in Jeddah, summed up most pro-Western Arab reaction by deploring the attacks.

"Because God's laws govern all of the Kingdom's positions, it has condemned the explosions... as inhuman attacks... The international community needs to shoulder its responsibility and pursue these terrorists wherever they are".

The Iraqi media, by contrast, were forthright in lauding the attacks.

The American cowboy is reaping the fruits of his crimes against humanity

Iraqi TV

"The American cowboy is reaping the fruits of his crimes against humanity", said a statement by commentator Sa'd Yasin Yusuf on Iraqi TV, adding that this "operation of the century... heralds the collapse of US policy, which stands by world Zionism... and implements US plans to dominate the world".

The Iraqi media have for months called for suicide attacks on US targets, with Babil, the newspaper of Saddam Hussein's son Uday, earlier this month calling for "the transfer of the confrontation to the inside of US society, which would collapse if continuously pressured from the inside".

The Turkish mainstream media has deplored the attacks, but the pro-Islamist Akit said "The United States has taken its stance beside Israel, which bathes Palestine in blood and fire every day... and yesterday the United States was itself engulfed in fire, the like of which has never been seen in history".

BBC Monitoring, 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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