May 13, 2001
Egyptian Editor-in-Chief: Peres is a Nazi; Apology out of Question
By Mohammad Baali
Albawaba.com – Cairo
The editor-in-chief of an Egyptian opposition paper, which has described Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres as a Nazi, has reiterated his paper’s position, rejecting the idea of apology.
Abdullah Sinnawi, head of Al Arabi, the mouthpiece of the Nasserist party, reiterated that Zionism is not only another face of Nazism, but rather “a double Nazism,” as he put it in a interview with Albawaba.com here.
Sinnawi was responding to Israeli protests against a headline story attacking Peres during a recent visit to Cairo to discuss Egyptian-Jordanian peace plan with the Egyptian government.
Following are excerpts of the interview:
Q: Why has the story on Peres aroused this commotion?
A: What happened was that Al Arabi had embraced the public opinion in Egypt where the people are furious at the barbarian Zionist aggression on Palestinian civilians, the most recent episode of which was the killing of an infant and storming into refugee camps.
Although we have always condemned Nazism, we have never heard that the Nazis bombarded civilian houses and refugee camps. Despite all the ugliness of their practices, the Nazis never tried to depict the torture they practiced against the detainees as a legitimate act. In sum, Zionism is double Nazism combining racism, brutality and uprooting [of Palestinians from their land].
Besides, the UN in 1975 equated between Zionism and racism, but in the aftermath of the peace accords [between Israel on one hand, and Egypt and Jordan on the other] and the collapse of the former Soviet Union, Israel succeeded in repealing the decision.
We have not invented the description; we only told a fact and revived the ailing memory.
Peres protested that at his meeting with [Egyptian] President Hosni Mubarak and [Foreign Minister] Amr Moussa. After that, the Israeli ambassador filed an official protest demanding an apology from us. We replied that this was a joke, and an out-of-question and totally unaccepted matter because it has to do with our political honor.
Q: Has there been any official pressure on you to apologize?
A: Never. Al Arabi has said what is on the mind of the whole people, and we were followed by other newspapers like [pro-government] Al Akhbar and [the opposition paper] Al Wafd, which used the same expression. We have succeeded in attracting the public attention to a new way of handling Israel in the media by stating the fact that Israel is a neo-nazi.
I also noticed that Syrian President Bashar Assad has also used the same expression in describing Israel. I do call on media people [in the Arab World] to unveil the facts of Israel’s aggression and barbarianism.
Q: You have been the chief editor of Al Arabi for a year now. What are similar issues the paper has moved to the limelight?
A: Although Al Arabi is a Nasserist paper, we have indulged ourselves in all the national and social issues, including that of public freedoms.
When Asha’ab [Islamist paper] was closed down, we were the only newspaper that published the articles of Adel Hussein, although we disagreed with his views over the “a Banquet of Sea Weeds,” [controversial novel].
Moreover, when [the human rights activist] Saad Eddine Ibrahim was arrested, our stand was clear: We were against Western infiltration into our research organizations, but this did not prevent us from guaranteeing an objective coverage of the issue by giving him [Ibrahim] the chance to express his points of view. We were simply not convinced of the reasons the government declared when the arrest took place.
In another issue, we voiced our determined stance against hereditary presidency. With due respect to President Assad, we raised the issue [of his succession of his father] and its reflections on Egypt.
There has also been the case of the famous headline: Al Sadat, the Supreme Traitor, which triggered a lawsuit [filed by Jihan, the widow of the assassinated president Anwar Sadat, against the paper].
Q: What are the difficulties you have faced during this year?
A: The word difficulties cannot aptly describe what we have been through; maybe “impossibilities” would do.
Our newspaper has only one direct telephone line, and an outdated fax machine. Salaries are always delayed, and a total financial collapse is looming. As a matter of fact, without the fighting spirit of the editors here, the paper would halt printing.
Q: Does the government harass you?
A: There are restrictions and pressures placed on Al Arabi. But as far as I am concerned, the publication of the paper is good to the image of the government. It shows that giving room to the only true opposition paper is an indication of political openness in the country.
Q: Final word?
A: Despite all the financial hardships we are going through in this paper, we will remain firm on our stands against corruption, Nazi Zionism, and the necessity of dialogue among all political groups.
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