Top Arab Opinion-Makers Discuss 9/11 On Radio Sawa

Writers, scholars and intellectuals from across the Middle East condemned terrorism and expressed sadness on the first anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

More than 50 prominent Arabs discussed the 2001 terrorists attacks and their effect on the region in a series of exclusive interviews broadcast in Arabic on Radio Sawa (, U.S. international broadcasting’s youth-oriented station in the Middle East.

Radio Sawa aired the interviews as part of special September 11 programming that included a doubling of news coverage.

Nagib Mahfouz, Egypt’s Nobel Prize-winning novelist, said, ” I deeply regret what happened on September 11. I regret even more the results and consequences of those events, which impacted the world in general, and the Arabs in particular.”

Saad Marek, editor in chief of Al-Watan, a newspaper in Saudi Arabia, said, “Many Saudis today feel pain over these events because no religion in the world dictates deeds of this sort.”

He urged prominent Muslims to “speak out on this anniversary, to tell the Americans that Muslims sympathize with them and feel their pain, and that we will be with them on every anniversary.” He added: “The ramifications for Islam are huge.”

Dureid Laham, a writer and dramatist from Syria, said he was pained to see innocent people lose their lives in the attacks. He also regretted the backlash against Arabs after the attacks, which were orchestrated by Middle Eastern men. “All religions, including Islam, advocate morality and tolerance. When a person decides to become a terrorist, then he adopts a new religion and a new national credo,” he said.

“Regardless of any pent-up anger over U.S. policies, I think this act is unjustified and only precipitates negative results,” said Mohamed Rumeihi, secretary general of Kuwait’s National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters.

The complete program is available to the media on CD-Rom.

Radio Sawa, launched on March 23, 2002, is a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week, Arabic-language service aimed at listeners under 30. The station, which is under the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), is distributed on FM, AM and shortwave as well as digital satellite and Internet.

The BBG is a nine-member, presidentially appointed body which supervises all U.S. government-supported international broadcasting, including the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Radio and TV Marti, and WORLDNET Television.