It can’t be a Muslim; or can it?
When three people were killed, including an 8-year-old boy, and some 176 injured—at least 15 of them critically—as a result of the explosion of two bombs near the crowded finish line of the Boston Marathon last Monday, the entire world was horrified and distraught at the tragic incident.
President Obama said the United States does not know “who did this or why” but vowed that whoever is responsible “will feel the full weight of justice”.
In Egypt, and until Watani International went to press, it had not yet been known who was behind the horrendous Boston bombing, and the public reaction to the incident was divergent.
It took the presidency some 16 hours to issue a statement denouncing the bombing and offering condolences to the victims. All the political movements in Egypt, Islamist and non-Islamist alike, also condemned the attack and offered condolences.
According to political analyst Soliman Shafiq, the Boston bombing is obvious evidence that no political system or intelligence apparatus, no matter how competent, is immune to terrorist attacks.
Yet, it is the crisis management of the tragedy that most draws the attention of Egyptians, Mr Shafiq says. It is impossible for the average Egyptian to refrain from comparing how President Obama and his administration are going about the management of this crisis, and how our own President Mursi and his administration do that in comparable incidents. President Obama was quick to be in solidarity with his people, and was very careful not to point fingers at anyone or any movement before investigations have their say, whereas allegations and accusations are freely flung at innocents in Egypt.
Mr Shafiq was proved right when bloggers could not fail to spot the comparison. Political activist Asmaa Mahfouz, who closely followed on the news of the Boston bombing, expressed a reciprocal sense of sorrow for Egypt. “I wish that the life of a human being was that much valued in Egypt. I wish the government would care as much for its people,” Mahfouz tweeted.
On his Twitter account, the Vice President of the ruling Freedom and Justice Party declared that the Boston incident aims at “bringing to life an old situation that can never be regained”. The widest comment that this drew was that it defied understanding. The Ikhwan Online website—affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood—only acknowledged the incident 48 hours after it occurred, and then in a slot with low visibility.
The media anchor, Ahmed al-Meslemani described the incident as a ‘criminal incident’ that should be strongly denounced. Mr Meslemani said he believed it was very difficult to identify the perpetrators of such criminal incidents. “All possibilities are open, including both right-wing and leftist anarchists,” he said, not discounting the possibility of the involvement of radical Islamists, which would mean all hell would break loose. His comment drew wide condemnation from bloggers who absolutely rejected the idea that the bombing was the doing of Islamists. How about North Koreans, many asked; they too hold a grudge against the US.
According to Hafez Abu-Seada, head of the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights, there should be a unified global stance against all operations that target innocent civilians. The Boston incidents, he tweeted, should be strongly condemned. “We should not look for excuses for any terrorist attack,” he wrote.
Taste of his own medicine
“No civilised human being can ever condone a terrorist attack, and no one can but feel the pain of the victims and denounce the terrorism,” the journalist Abdallah Kamal wrote. Arabs and Muslims, however, according to Kamal, need to resolve a predicament particular to them: the dilemma of their mixed feelings towards the US. Today, many Muslims are fervently praying that the perpetrators of this atrocious incident would not be Arab or Muslim. But this is not owing to any lost love between them and the US, it is because they fear Islam would be cast in the light of a religion that endorses terrorism. Muslims need to recognise and resolve this dilemma. “How can they look kindly upon the flaunting of US hatred by their extremist jamaa, yet fear Muslim implication in the Boston terrorist bombing?” Kamal wonders. They need to reach a definite resolution of this pathetic double standard.
Cyberspace offered a forum for bloggers to have their say.
On Facebook, one political page read, “The Boston bombings were probably the work of radical Islamists. Let Mr Obama have a taste of the medicine he has forced down our throat.” This sentiment was echoed by many other bloggers.
Samira Ibrahim wrote that since most Islamists are now American protégés, who will take the brunt of the bombings this time?
“Terrorism has no religion,” Saïd Abdel Hafez wrote.
21 April 2013