Al Ahram scarcely the most objective of commentators

In its most recent issue (no. 674, 22-28 Jan.) Al Ahram fired a broadside at Israel’s ambassador to Sweden, Mr Zvi Mazel, who has previously served as his country’s ambassador to Egypt.

The highly respected tone-setting Egyptian weekly took Ambassador Mazel to task, noting that his actions smacked of vandalism against an exhibit that merely “invited spectators to examine the motives of the suicide bomber”.

I would be delighted if Al Ahram were to write another article in a similarly straight-talking vein. This article should invite the Egyptian and wider Arab public to examine the motives and celebrate the fanatics who almost brought the Egyptian tourist industry and thus the entire Egyptian economy to its knees a few years ago with a spate of indiscriminate bombings targeting randomly selected tourists and tourist installations throughout the country. In the interests of even-handedness, I would naturally expect to see an art piece of a similarly controversial nature commissioned by the Government of Egypt and put on display on the premises of the Egyptian Tourism Ministry, while Ministry officials in Arabic defend the artwork’s legitimacy and instruct the country’s security forces to defend the right to freedom of expression through art.

This would make it far easier to agree with Al Ahram’s article in Issue no. 674 and to sympathise with both its tone and intent.

Until then, it might be better to refrain from adding further fuel to an issue that is causing immense pain to the people most closely affected by the scandalous exhibit in Stockholm – Sweden’s Jewish minority who for years have been suffering increasingly overt aggression by extremists nurtured on precisely this kind of encouragement.