Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I am not Osama bin Laden

Michael Totten interviews Sayyed Mohammad Ali El Husseini, a Shia alama who lives in the dahiyeh, the Hezbollah stronghold in Beirut. He is, however, firmly opposed to Hezbollah, wants the Iranians out, is grateful to Bush for getting the Syrians out, is a bit cagey about Israel, approves of the American removal of Saddam Hussein and seems favourably disposed towards democracy, or at least, sees dictatorship as violence. In other words, not your raving Muslim cleric that we can't get enough of. I wish we'd heard from blokes like this during the Cartoons ruckus or similar upheavals in the Arab and Muslim Street.

While I was in Germany, I met a student. He told me that I am a Muslim, that I am a terrorist. I told him that he is the German, that he burned people. I said Why are you talking to me? I didn’t burn anybody. I told him also that I didn’t terrorize anybody, and that I was the first person to condemn what Osama bin Laden did to America on 9/11. I told him that we, the Shia people, in Iraq we were the first victims. Saddam killed civilian people, he cut off our heads, he blew up our houses. I told him that Hitler burned the Jews. Nobody in the world has done what he did. Then I told him we are the same. You are German, and you are not Hitler. I am a Muslim, but I am not Osama bin Laden.”
[Italics in original]
Wish I'd been there for that conversation. About the Hezbollah protests in downtown Beirut
“All of those people,” Husseini said, “most of them, who go to the protest downtown have no work to do. They earn 30 dollars per day.”

“Being downtown they get paid 30 dollars a day?” I said.

“Yes,” he said. “If they had work to do, they will not go down there. This is Iranian money, the green money. Nasrallah talked about it. We must exchange it with government money.”

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