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Nothing Noble About Suicide Bombings

The Arab News then asks, sharply, “So why, here in the Arab world, is there this absurd view that suicide bombers have achieved something, done something noble? Why this replay of Japan's kamikaze pilots at the end of World War II, cheered as they flew off to their death? They, too, were a last-ditch stand. They produced fear. They produced devastation for an instant. But they were a specta
First Publish: 5/26/2003, 10:18 PM

An editorial by Saudi Arabia’s Arab News, an English-language newspaper, from May 16, takes an unusual and bold stand against suicide bombings. However, as the Saudi press is not at all a free press, the editorial takes its cue from statements issued in the aftermath of the serial suicide bombings in Riyadh by Interior Minister Prince Naif against “those religious leaders who have instigated hate and terrorism”.
The Arab News editorial says that such statements by Saudi leaders need “to be heeded by anyone who thinks that suicide bombings can be justified, here or anywhere.”

The piece says that the “exultation felt in the Arab world at the actions of Palestinian and Chechen suicide bombers has been deeply disturbing, not least because religious leaders have said time and again that such suicides are deeply sinful.” The “religious leaders” the newspaper is referring to remain unidentified.

However, “quite apart from the religious aspect,” the Saudi editorial continues, “these bombings are a political and military dead-end. They are a raging admission of failure. What have they achieved? Have the Israelis been shocked into negotiations? No way. Suicide bomb after suicide bomb has served only to harden Israeli hearts against compromise with the Palestinians, against accepting a Palestinian state, against dismantling the settlements. Have the Russians become more conciliatory as a result of Chechen attacks? ...The Russian have been made more intransigent by attacks. In Sri Lanka too, where there have been more suicide bombings than anywhere else on earth, the consequence has been to entrench attitudes, to harden hearts, to prevent solutions.”

The Arab News then asks, sharply, “So why, here in the Arab world, is there this absurd view that suicide bombers have achieved something, done something noble? Why this replay of Japan's kamikaze pilots at the end of World War II, cheered as they flew off to their death? They, too, were a last-ditch stand. They produced fear. They produced devastation for an instant. But they were a spectacular failure, both militarily and politically.”

On the moral level, the English-language newspaper says, “There is nothing noble about killing innocent people. As for the notion that the bombers are martyrs, that too is a lie. They are not that. Martyrdom has to do with standing up and dying for something that is good. To kill innocent people as well as yourself is an act of sheer evil. In Riyadh, Westerners, Saudis, Filipinos, and many others died. If anyone is the martyr, it is them, certainly not their murderers.

“To admire and praise the suicide bombers, then, is a profoundly negative response, for it mocks common sense,” Arab News opines. “The only explanation, both for the act and support for it, though not a valid one, is a thirst for revenge against a seemingly undefeatable foe. But revenge is a deceiving and deadly mistress. Revenge does not bring freedom. It may temporarily ease the pain, but so does heroin; and as with heroin, there is the even more painful return to reality and the realization that, apart from the slaughter, all the suicide bombs have achieved is greater hostility.”

More profoundly, the extraordinary Saudi editorial declares, “Suicide bombings targeting civilians have not and will never bring victory to anyone. They bring only greater hostility in return, greater determination to crush those behind such terror. They are the weapon of the defeated, of the embittered, of those who regard human life as worthless, of those who live on hate. They are no foundation for peace or justice.”

A clue to the radical new Saudi attitude can be found in the editorial’s closing paragraph: “We have had terror brought home to us here in Saudi Arabia. It is time to stand up against such terror, against those who organize them, against those who inspire them, against those who refuse to condemn them.”