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February 06, 2003

Arab Media Reactions to the Columbia Space Shuttle Disaster

In some cases, articles printed in the Arab press concerning the diaster of the American space ship did contain sympathy and consolation for an event that had an impact on all peoples, but overall, the typical Arab (a religion of peace and love) naturally enough used the event to spew hatred.
(...)In Al-Dustour, columnist Arib Al-Rantawi wrote about the displays of joy which appeared on Islamic websites. "Only the sick and mentally feeble dance with
joy at the Columbia space shuttle disaster. This is not an occasion for gloating. After all, the American space program is part of the scientific heritage of humanity..."

"The rejection of the 'nationalist terrorism' theory behind the Columbia disaster apparently did not please some, and they hastened to develop a theory of 'divine retribution' against the arrogant infidels... Once again, the Arab mind was revealed as an unfathomable storehouse of 'illogic,' as if we were a nation that does not learn from its defeats and catastrophes and hastens to bring up myths at every juncture. This is what happened in 1967; it recurred, tragically, in the Gulf War... and here we are, repeating the
same tales now."

The Death of Israeli Astronaut Col. Ilan Ramon "Is Enough to Arouse Joy in Every Heart that Beats Arabism and Islam"

Most of the comments on the disaster mentioned Col. Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli astronaut. However, choosing not to mention him at all was Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Reza Asafi, who expressed "sorrow about the explosion of the Columbia space shuttle in the skies of the U.S. and
condolences [for] the American and Indian crew members. Iran distinguishes between Iran-U.S. political differences and scientific and human issues, and hopes that events of this kind will not prevent the information centers from continuing their struggle to discover the secrets of the universe."

In an article titled "Ramon Can Go to Hell," Hamed Salamin, a columnist for the UAE daily Al-Bayan, wrote: "Feelings of sadness and joy intermingle at the sight of the fragments of the American space shuttle Columbia scattering in the skies of Texas. These conflicting feelings make those feeling them
probe the obscurity of their souls to seek out the reasons for the sadness and the joy... An atmosphere of sadness and shock overcame the Israelis two days ago when NASA announced [Ramon's] death... This is enough to arouse joy in every heart that beats Arabism and Islam..."

"Perhaps the sight of the Columbia shuttle's crashing in the town of Palestine, Texas reminds the Israeli people of the daily tragedy of the Palestinians - of the sorrow, the blood, and the massacres that the army of the [Zionist] entity carries out on the occupied lands. But it would not appear that the vast majority of Israelis have feelings for others... The Columbia disaster is a loss to all, even though emotions are conflicting. Sincerest condolences to the American people and to the families of the six
American astronauts, and Ramon should go to hell. There is no sorrow for himwhatsoever."
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