The Rage Next Time: While Americans See Victories in Iraq, Arabs and Muslims See Mostly Victims

By Masland, Tom; Dickey, Christopher | Newsweek, April 14, 2003 | Go to article overview

The Rage Next Time: While Americans See Victories in Iraq, Arabs and Muslims See Mostly Victims


Masland, Tom, Dickey, Christopher, Newsweek


Byline: Tom Masland and Christopher Dickey

The boy always looks forward to his aunt's visits. What boy wouldn't? She showers him with Disney videos, LEGOs and Toys "R" Us electronica from her frequent trips to Washington--cultural sweets on which children the world over are weaned. But when Aunt Amal went to Lebanon's Bekaa Valley for a family visit last week, 3-year-old Khalid greeted her with horror. In spite of his mother's attempts to limit his TV viewing, Khalid had caught a glimpse of footage from Iraq, aired on an Arab TV network, of the headless body of an Iraqi child killed by a Coalition bomb gone astray. "Don't go back to America," Khalid urged his favorite aunt. "They're killing children."

American hearts are focused on their troops these days--the dangers they face, the tragedies they've suffered. Yet the war Americans see on their television screens is wholly different from what's shown elsewhere. U.S. programming concentrates on victory. Arab and Muslim TV focuses on victims. Children feature prominently: grisly images of the dead and dying and maimed. Such is the bitterness evoked by this war that even benign acts of charity are tainted. "It's humiliating to see a soldier giving a piece of candy to a poor child," says Khalaf Haddadin, general manager of a contracting company in Jordan. "Maybe in the States these images are convincing, but the Iraqis don't need [cookies]. They need for soldiers to stop killing their children."

While the American public may believe--and share--the administration's hope that this invasion will lead to a more stable and democratic region, the young and the old, the poor and the rich, the educated and the illiterate of the Muslim world are united in disbelief. Islamists are calling for suicide attacks, and radicals of every stripe are competing to hijack the anger engendered by this war. In Beirut, Ayatollah Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah denies that he ever was, as U.S. officials charge, the "spiritual leader" of Hizbullah terrorist cells that launched suicide bombings and kidnappings of Americans in Lebanon 20 years ago. But nobody doubts his authority. "This war has united the Islamic world from border to border against the United States," Fadlallah told NEWSWEEK. "If more massacres take place and if more occupation is seen, I fear that we will witness a wave of terrorism that no one will be able to control."

Muslim leaders friendly to the United States, from Rabat to Rawalpindi, are trying to ride out the storm. "I thought all of this was behind us," says a bitter Jordanian official who's usually regarded as a close friend of Washington. …

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