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Re: The Vienna dialogue
by Louis Proyect
18 March 2002 16:39 UTC
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>Speaking in Vienna's Hofburg palace on Tuesday [12 March], Iranian President
>Mohammad Khatami said that wars are waged "when small-minded people think
>they are in the possession of the absolute truth". "What we need is humility
>and modesty," he said in response to questions that were raised at the
>"Dialogue Between Religions", a meeting organized by Austrian President
>Thomas Klestil.

This reminds me of an article that appeared in yesterday's NY Times Week in
Review:

March 17, 2002

WORD FOR WORD
A Voice to Calm the Angry Americans
By ELAINE SCIOLINO
 
KHALED AL-MAEENA, the editor in chief of the English-language Saudi
newspaper Arab News, is an unabashed America-lover. He studied in the
United States, sent four of his five children to American colleges and,
with a tiny budget, built a newspaper staff of young Saudi men and women
who are required to speak flawless English.

So when dozens of Americans who read his newspaper on the Internet began to
send him hate e-mail after Sept. 11, he fought back  with deliberately
moderate words.

The e-mail exchanges, which he volunteered to show this reporter, who
visited him in Saudi Arabia last month, hint at his powers of persuasion
and a skill at turning aside nastiness.

Five correspondents are represented here. For one, the address is no longer
current, and two others did not reply to requests to permit use of their
names. One asked that only her initials be used, because she had received
death threats in response to postings on other forums. The fifth agreed to
allow the use of her name.

A reader in Montana, Dec. 15, 2001:
I hate you all. The Koran is the book of Satan, the devil, the teachings of
evil, the book that is used to justify murder. Anyone who worships Islam is
the devil's child. There will be a great conflict in the future, a
conflagration between Islam and Christianity, and the crusaders of
Christianity will rid the world of the Satanic hell that is Islam. . . . 

Mr. al-Maeena, Dec. 15:
Thank you for the journey in the dark recesses of your mind. The cool
Montana weather has apparently not had an effect on you. Your
generalization does not help. Today it is the Muslims, tomorrow it will be
the one billion Indians whose navy is threatening. Then don't forget the
rumbling Chinese, and please don't overlook the Russians, of whom 57
percent expressed satisfaction at America's discomfort. Instead of such
vitriol, I would request you to join us in a prayer for world peace.

The reader in Montana, Dec. 18:
Recent events caused me to write the very nasty e-mail that you received,
with the intent to provoke you into an argument so I could "vent" my
feelings and make me feel better at your expense. That was wrong, very
wrong. I believe that God let me do this to teach me a lesson. The lesson I
have learned is that making others feel bad does not, in the end, make one
feel better about themselves. I have learned a good lesson, but I must
express my most sincere apologies for directing my anger at all of you. I
am not the kind of person that my messages would indicate. . . . If my
father read what I wrote, I would not be able to type any letters, as he
would have broken my fingers.

I have never seen nor have I read the Koran. Where I live, it would be hard
to find such a book. Anyway, I'm sure the Holy Koran is a good book full of
words of goodness, love and peace. I hope you will find it in your hearts
to forgive me for my outburst of false emotions. May we all be blessed so
that we may one day live in peace, if not for us, then for our children. If
any of you ever come to Montana, I would welcome you in my home so that I
may gain a greater understanding of Islam. God bless you, everyone. 

Mr. al-Maeena, Dec. 19:
Greetings and peace from Saudi Arabia. I was overwhelmed by your letter.
God bless you and all Americans. I would like to welcome you as my personal
guest any time you wish to come. As for the Koran or other books you need,
please let me know and I shall send them to you.

The reader from Montana, Dec. 25:
On the eve of Christmas, I have received a wonderful gift. Tonight when I
retire, in that time when thoughts pass through one's mind before sleep
comes, I shall pray to the Lord and thank him for the understanding and
forgiveness you have shown to me. And I will thank him and ask that his
blessings be bestowed upon you for the wonderful gift you sent me. The
story of the birth of Christ from the Koran was beautiful. 

M.B. from Texas, January 2002:
You have offered nothing to civilization but hate and a perversion of Islam
for hundreds of years. Your governments are corrupt. Saudi Arabia is a pest
hole of hypocritical "royals" who booze and whore in the West, and spout
anti- Semitism and anti-Americanism at home. Your people don't have jobs or
hope for the future. No wonder you export terror. You have nothing else to
export but oil and terror. America will turn on you in time. As for bin
Laden, he's a liar, coward and murderer. 

Mr. al-Maeena's reply, Jan. 4:
Thank you for your e-mail on our online edition of Arab News. I am amazed
at your venom. Your points which you wish to come across would have been
accepted had they been cloaked in a more civilized tone. I, however,
respect your opinion, and do hope we can discuss some of the issues you
raised over a cup of coffee. God bless you.

M.B., January:
Frankly, I am amazed you responded at all. As for a cup of coffee, plenty
seem to sit in coffee houses in Egypt and other places, criticizing the
West, who sends you billions in support. Democracy to you is inconceivable.
Well, okay, must Islam be reduced to fascism in the disguise of religion?
This is what it is now. If I see one more stooge royal Saudi prince
criticize the U.S., I'm going to collapse in laughter. If it were not for
us, that corrupt regime would not be in power. I think we should blow up
the military bases we built there and leave them, the Saudis, to their own
devices. See how long it takes S. Hussein to invade and take over their oil
fields. 

Mr. al-Maeena, Jan. 7:
I replied because I was brought up by my family to be civil no matter what.
I am used to getting such letters. Assuring you of my deepest respect and
hoping to continue our dialogue.

M.B., January:
I apologize for my rudeness. Americans are being spoon-fed political
correctness, and many are tired of it. Anger must be vented, or it poisons
you. I own a company that prepares food for special occasions, weddings,
birthdays, holidays, business meetings. I had a good business until 9/11.
Now we are barely surviving and I have had to let some of my people find
other jobs. I'm sure bin Laden and others find the fact that so many of us
are struggling here now is amusing. 

full: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/17/weekinreview/17WORD.html

Louis Proyect
Marxism mailing list: http://www.marxmail.org



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