Sveitsiske Die Weltwoche har intervjuet sjefredaktøren for Al-Jazeera, Ahmed Sheikh. Sheikh er fra Nablus. Han vil gjerne stå for en profesjonell nyhetsformidling. Men bekjenner seg åpent til politiske standpunkt, som synet på palestinske selvmordsbombere. Al-Jazeera kaller dem ikke det:

Mr. Sheikh, as the Editor in Chief of Al-Jazeera, you are one of the most important opinion-makers in the Arab world. What do you call suicide bombers?

For what is happening in Palestine, we never use the expression «suicide bombing.»

What do you call it then?

In English, I would describe it as «bombings.»

And in Arabic?

Literally translated, we would speak of «commando attacks.» In our culture, it is precisely not suicide.

But instead a praiseworthy act?

When the country is occupied and the people are being killed by the enemy, everyone must take action, even if he sacrifices himself in so doing.

Even if in so doing he kills innocent civilians?

That is not a Palestinian problem, but a problem of the Israelis.

You’re avoiding the question.

Not at all. When the Israeli Army attacks, it kills civilians. An army should be able to distinguish between military and civilian targets. But how many innocent people did it kill in Beit Hanoun? And then they justify this in saying that the grenade went astray, that there was a technical problem or something. But who believes that?

Det er interessant at Ahmed Sheikh sier at «in our culture it is precisely not suicede». Argumentet om «vår kultur» er politisk tvilsomt, og selvmord er strengt forbudt i Koranen.

Sheikh ser dystert på fremtiden. Han vil at sønnen på 30 forlater Jordan slik at barnebarnet kan få utdannelse i Vesten. Sheikh sier problemet er at Midtøsten er for lite dynamisk, og bruker Mubarak som eksempel. Etter 25 år med stagnasjon burde han få avløsning og ikke nye sju år ved makten. Men så spør intervjueren hva grunnen er til stagnasjonen, og får til svar: opprettelsen av staten Israel.

Who is responsible for the situation?

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the most important reasons why these crises and problems continue to simmer. The day when Israel was founded created the basis for our problems. The West should finally come to understand this. Everything would be much calmer if the Palestinians were given their rights.

Do you mean to say that if Israel did not exist, there would suddenly be democracy in Egypt, that the schools in Morocco would be better, that the public clinics in Jordan would function better?

I think so.

Can you please explain to me what the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has to do with these problems?

The Palestinian cause is central for Arab thinking.

In the end, is it a matter of feelings of self-esteem?

Exactly. It’s because we always lose to Israel. It gnaws at the people in the Middle East that such a small country as Israel, with only about 7 million inhabitants, can defeat the Arab nation with its 350 million. That hurts our collective ego. The Palestinian problem is in the genes of every Arab. The West’s problem is that it does not understand this.

Farlig å snakke om gener. Noe av den samme mentaliteten uttrykker Mahmoud Ahmadinejad når han sier til Der Spiegel at det er helt naturstridig at et folk skal påta seg skylden for noe og la seg ydmyke. «No people accepts its own humiliation,» sa Ahmadinejad. Det er noe av den samme stoltheten Ahmed Sheik flagger, og den er et stort hinder for fremskritt. Man skylder på kultur og gener, mens det er en bestemt form for mannskultur som gjør ødelegger fremveksten av et moderne samfunn.

An Interview With Al-Jazeera Editor-in-Chief Ahmed Sheikh
Pierre Heumann | 07 Dec 2006
World Politics Watch

In what countries are you blacklisted at the moment?

Saudi Arabia has never allowed us to work. Just once, we were allowed to report on the Hajj and I went there to shoot a film. Tunisia and Algeria have stopped us; Iraq banned us temporarily; for a time our reporters were also not allowed into Syria, Jordan, and Kuwait. We also have problems in Sudan, because we report on the atrocities in Darfur, where innocent people are being killed. In Khartoum, they weren’t happy that we broadcast a report on this subject and they threw us out. Later, however, the Sudanese thought better of it and they let us work in the country again. We never make compromises, because we don’t want to put our credibility at risk. The Iranians also shut down our bureau for a time, after we broadcast a report on the oppressed Arab minority in Iran. The report provoked demonstrations in Iran and the Iranian government held us responsible. We don’t want to serve as the mouthpiece of those in power — as, unfortunately, so many of our competitors do.