Saturday, September 10, 2011

Saudi Sheikh Wajdi Al-Ghazawi Recalls 9/11 Celebrations

Wajdi Al-Ghazawi
(Image from MEMRI)

Courtesy of MEMRI's Special Dispatch No. 4116 (September 7, 2011), Saudi Sheikh Wajdi Al-Ghazawi, owner of Al-Fajr TV, recalls the popularity of Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden after 9/11 and the radicalism of Saudis only a few years ago in a video posted to YouTube on August 4, 2011, the transcript of which can be read in English here:
"When Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden were at the height of their might, they were extremely popular in Saudi Arabia. From mosque pulpits across Saudi Arabia, preachers would pray for their success. Moreover, from the pulpits of the most important mosques -- the Al-Haram Mosque in Mecca and the Nabawi Mosque in Al-Madina -- direct prayers for the success of Al-Qaeda were made, during the days of the bombing of Tora Bora: 'Oh Allah, help our brothers in Afghanistan.' These supplications were made during evening prayers, as well as Friday prayers. The preachers would pray for them, in violation of the ministry's instructions."
Al-Ghazawi implies that the Saudi government was embarrassed by the popular support for an enemy of Saudi Arabia's main ally, the United States. The destruction of the WTC occasioned heartfelt celebrations:
"When the twin towers in New York were attacked, they handed out sweets on the streets of Mecca. By Allah, they did. I witnessed this myself. The young people bowed in prayer and hugged one another out of joy. People were in heaven because of these young men, who 'destroyed America and bombed this idol.' Am I right or not? Was it like that or not?"
Speaking of idols:
"Back then, when the Taliban broke off a piece of the nose of the Buddha statue, which was hewn in the mountain, an entire sermon was dedicated to it in the mosque in Mecca, and the preacher was later reprimanded for this sermon. The entire Saudi people supported and loved Al-Qaeda."
Only a nose? The entire statue is gone. The Saudi government again looked embarrassed, but only when Al-Qaeda turned on the Saudi kingdom itself did the Saudi people begin to change their minds about Al-Qaeda:
"This went on until our brothers in Al-Qaeda -- and I don't know what was going through their minds -- began to carry out operations inside Saudi Arabia. That's when we all raised our hands, and said: 'You've gone too far. We won't support you in this.'"
Sheikh Al-Ghazawi can find out "what was going through their minds" if he reads up on salafi literature and the concept of takfir. That should clarify the relevant issues. But I think that the sheikh already knows "what was going through their minds" and is simply expressing irony at Al-Qaeda's stupid brutality. At any rate, he opposes Islamist radicalism. Saudi Arabia, by the way, wasn't the only Muslim society that revealed positive support for the 9/11 attackers. I recall Egyptians and Palestinians cheering at the news and also handing out sweets. These facts have often been denied, or explained as soccer celebrations, but they happened.

The days that followed 9/11 were a glorious time for anti-Americanism among even non-Muslims. I was a professor at Hanshin University then, and in a master's class that I was teaching to high school instructors, one student told of her leftist husband smiling as he watched the Twin Towers come crashing down. I find that so hard to imagine, smiling broadly while watching hundreds of innocent civilians crushed in the rubble -- and that smile coming even after watching scores of individuals leap from the flaming upper floors to escape being burned alive, only to hurtle hundreds of feet to certain death on the streets and sidewalks below. I'll never forget the report of one witness in the WTC who was on a level just below impact. He was thrown to the floor, but as he stood up and looked through the window to see what had happened, he glimpsed a woman fall past, her face expressing terrified bewilderment as she clutched at the empty air for anything to hold on to. That horrifying image has remained with me these past ten years.

After such knowledge, who can smile at the WTC Towers' collapse except to express a profoundly pathological, heartfelt hatred?

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At 10:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

UK members of Parliament sang the Star Spangled Banner and across Canada the Stars and Stripes were flown as gestures of solidarity with a longtime close ally and neighbor. The saying "in times of trouble, you find out who your friends are" holds true about 9/11. Thank you, Britain and Canada, for your moving media coverage of the lives lost and forever changed by that horrific event ten years ago, and thank you for the mostly empathetic remarks in the comment sections of stories in the Telegraph, Daily Mail, and Globe and Mail. As I type this, I can hear the voices of the children of9/11 victims reading the names of the dead in a live videocast on the front page of the UK Telegraph. Meanwhile, the Chosun and Donga have a few front page stories about memorial events and possible terrorist attacks. No front page coverage at the Hani, just a couple of articles in the international section.


At 11:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just came back from browsing the Asahi Shimbun and Xinhua News. Asahi's coverage is sparse and dry like the Korean media's. Xinhua has nothing on the front page but lots of stories and photo essays on 9/11 in the international section. A picture (or two) is worth a thousand words:

The caption explains that interfaith representatives from Southern California have gathered in LA to remember 9/11.

The caption explains that the flags from different countries represent the nearly 3,000 people killed on 9/11.


At 11:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's try those links again:

photo of US Muslims in 9/11 candlelight vigil.

photo of Chinese flag among US flags in 9/11 memorial

At 5:57 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Sonagi. I recall my time at Hanshin University during days of such heightened anti-Americanism that only one person, a graduate student, said anything sympathetic to me when the 9/11 attacks occurred.

For the next three years, it seemed, all I heard was how bad America was. Not everyone was anti-American, of course, and I didn't suffer any personal attacks, either physical or verbal. I also still have friends from Hanshin. Moreover, I was 'tenured', had a large office that housed all my books, taught only three courses per semester, and enjoyed lots of time for research.

But all good things must end, or so it's said, and I've found that to be mostly true.

Jeffery Hodges

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