Arab Media: Shia-Sunni Tensions Rise
Saddam's Execution and the Video of It Prompt War of Words
By AMER MOHSEN Posted 5 hr. 30 min. ago
Editor's note: While virtually all Iraqi newspapers have ceased publication during the two-week-long Eid holiday, we're examining the Arab world media's coverage of Iraq. Our daily summary and critique of Iraqi newspapers will resume after the Eid holiday.
Saddam’s execution is increasing Sunni-Shi`a tensions to a breaking point, not only in Iraq, but across the entire Arab World. Most observers agree that the timing and format of Saddam’s execution could not have been any worse, and editorials in Arab newspapers are trying to answer the puzzle: how could the Iraqi Government and the occupational authority manage to make a controversy out of the execution of one of the most brutal dictators the Arab World has ever known?
A telling face-off occurred today in al-Ittijah al-Mu`akis, one of the most widely watched and controversial talk shows in the Arab region, hosted by al-Jazeera’s Faysal al-Qasim. This week’s show (aired on Tuesday) was devoted to a discussion of Saddam’s execution and pitted Mish`an al-Juburi (ex-politician, currently living in exile and facing terrorism and corruption charges in Iraq) against Sadiq al-Mousawi (introduced as the head of the ‘Iraq Media Center’ –the ‘center’s’ website is currently offline). The heated episode exhibited some of the boldest sectarian language to be heard on a mainstream news channel so far. Two minutes into the episode, al-Mousawi left the studio in anger (only to return later) after al-Juburi accused him of being an ‘Iranian Safavid’ posing as an Iraqi, and showed documents that proved (according to Juburi) that Mousawi -whom Juburi charged of having changed his name- applied for Iraqi citizenship only in 2004. While al-Mousawi argued that Saddam’s execution represented the end of a hated tyrant and a rupture with a black phase in Iraq’s history; al-Juburi said that Saddam –through his execution- has become a symbol of resistance who was assassinated by the ‘Iranian enemy’. Al-Juburi added that the Iranian infiltration in Iraq through its ‘Safavid’ allies is massacring Sunnis and patriots; the episode ended with both guests exchanging insults and threats, with Mousawi accusing Juburi of inciting terrorism and Juburi calling Mousawi ‘a grandson of al-`alqami’. (A linguistic decoding is in order: ‘safavid’ (a reference to a 16th century Azeri-Turkic dynasty that ruled Iran and converted most of its population to Shi`ism) is a pejorative term used to refer to the Shi`a and accentuate their assumed ‘non-Arab’ character. The term first appeared in Alqa`ida’s literature and seems to be gaining wider usage. Likewise, ‘the grandsons of al-`Alqami’ is a pejorative term used by Sunni extremists to refer to shi`as; Mu’ayyid al-deen Ibn al-`alqami was a Shi`a Vizir of the last `Abbasid Caliph, and according to historical accounts, exaggerated by anti-Shi`a narratives, he had struck secret deals with the invading Mongol army and eased Hulagu’s sacking of Baghdad and the destruction of the `Abbasid dynasty). Read the rest here.
--And here is a link to the Angry Arab's take on the sectarian fighting that occurred on al-Ittijah al-Mu`akis: "al-Ittijah al-Mu`akis.