There was widespread condemnation across Middle East media organizations in response to Wednesday’s attack on the Paris office of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
In an opinion piece on the website for the Qatar-based Al Jazeera news channel, Egyptian-Belgian journalist and writer Khaled Diab questioned the attackers’ claim that they had “avenged” the Prophet Mohammad.
“Why Prophet Mohammad would need anyone to avenge him is beyond me,” he wrote. “The prophet endured far more mockery, humiliation, insult and rejection during his lifetime without needing or ordering hitmen to defend his honor than that meted out by a group of equal-opportunity French cartoonists who despise and satirize all forms of organized religion.”
In Lebanon’s Daily Star newspaper, an op-ed asserted that while the perpetrators may believe that they were carrying out the violence in the name of religion, “they are committing criminal acts, which have no grounding in faith.” It also urged security agencies in Europe to work with countries in the Middle East where the criminals are receiving inspiration or training. “For the latter know better than anyone what tragedies such individuals can inflict,” it added.
An article on Dubai-based, Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya news website by Joyce Karam argued that the attack gave “more urgency to find political solution for conflicts in Syria and Yemen, having become a magnet for al-Qaeda and ISIS.” Karam also claimed that, with France having had the largest number of nationals recruited and fighting with ISIS — believed to be more than 700 — it was vulnerable from those who would “attempt to return home and possibly wreak havoc through the skills and military training they acquired.”
However, the editor-in-chief of a newspaper in Qatar caused a stir with a tweet urging Muslims not to apologize for the deaths in Paris.
“Don’t apologize for a crime you did not commit,” said Abdullah Al Athba of the Arab-language Al Arab paper, according to a report in Al-Arabiya, adding that “France was looking for an excuse to intervene in Libya” and sparking criticism from several of his followers.
In a later statement, Al Athba said that attacking innocents was “unacceptable and should be condemned,” but asked why the issue was being linked with Islam.
“There are extremist Christians as there are extremist Jews, yet no one asks the Church, for example, to condemn attack attacks on Muslims in Sweden and hatred campaigns against Muslims in Germany.”
In Jordan, there were no newspapers on Thursday. Due to unusually snowy conditions across the country editors on the major dailies announced that print editions would be suspended.