Abdel Atwan’s CiF piece and the Guardian’s role as platform of choice for religious extremists

Abdel al-Bari Atwan is the editor-in chief of the London-based pan-Arab newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi, and has been named among the 50 ‘most influential Arabs’ by Middle East Magazine.

He’s perhaps best known for his comments during an interview on Lebanese television concerning how he’d react if Iranian missiles hit Israel. Talking about Iran’s nuclear capability on ANB Lebanese television on June 27, Atwan said:

“If the Iranian missiles strike Israel, by Allah, I will go to Trafalgar Square and dance with delight.” 


In Dec. 2010, at a speech at the LSE – where he opined about the dangers of the Jewish lobby – Atwan pointed to various [non-Israeli] Jewish students and said: “You bombed Gaza.”

He’s also expressed sympathy with Saddam Hussein’s resistance to the US invasion of Iraq, commenting on the former president’s execution that:

“[Saddam] will go to the gallows with his head held high, because he built a strong united Iraq without sectarianism…The Arab people will remember Saddam Hussein as the only Arab leader who fired 40 missiles at Tel Aviv, stood beside the Palestinian resistance, gave sponsorship to martyrs’ families, and defended Damascus from Israeli tanks heading to occupy it.”

Perhaps most disturbing though was when, in March 2008, Atwan said that the Mercaz HaRav shooting, in which a Palestinian gunmen murdered eight students (aged 15 to 26), “was justified.” He added that the Mercaz HaRav yeshiva is responsible for “hatching Israeli extremists and fundamentalists” and that the celebrations in Gaza following the attack symbolized “the courage of the Palestinian nation.

In response to Atwan’s legitimization of the Mercaz HaRav shooting in March 2008, Lior Ben-Dor, a spokesman at the Israeli Embassy in London, said:

“The problem is that when addressing the British public, he tends to hide his true opinions and ideology – his support for terror, religious extremism and the murder of civilians.”

However, Atwan’s CiF entry on July 31st, The chance of Ramadan, about NATO’s war in Libya, represents an explicit ethical and religious endorsement of Muslims waging war against “infidels.”  He says:

Islamic experts assure me there is no prohibition of warfare during Ramadan. On the contrary, many of Islam’s great conquests occurred during this holy month, including the first clash between Muslims and infidels, which occurred in 624 when Muhammad led his troops to victory in the battle of Badr. War for the furtherance of Islam and against non-believers is considered ethically acceptable by scholars, even during the month of fasting and prayer.

Atwan contrasts this ethical waging of war during Ramadan, with wars waged by non-Muslims:

Islamic clerics concur that it is absolutely prohibited for Muslims to seek the help of non-believers against fellow Muslims.

By continuing to post essays by Atwan, the Guardian editors are making a conscious decision to provide a platform to an anti-Semite who openly supports religious extremism and terrorist attacks against innocent civilians.

Worse, today’s piece by Atwan demonstrates that CiF editors evidently think it’s perfectly acceptable for this same commentator to openly justify war against non-Muslims “in the furtherance of Islam” on the pages of the Guardian.

In the context of the Guardian’s continuing righteous condemnations of right wing political incitement, their decision to sanction an open advocate for violent religious extremism represents yet another example of their appalling moral hypocrisy. 

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