Blood and Belief

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September 10, 2004; Page W13

More than 350 people murdered, primarily children, along with teachers and parents: Even among terrorist incidents, this one stands out for its horror. Russians, staggered by what happened this week in the north Ossetian town of Beslan, are trying to understand the nature of the enemy they confront. So are the rest of us, since it may be our enemy too. Is it?

For President Vladimir Putin, the answer is clear-cut. Russia is fighting extremist Islam, and it must be destroyed. From what we know so far, such a characterization accurately describes the child-killers in Beslan, who acted in accordance with “religious” instructions, issued on a Chechen Islamist Web site, that distort the Koran to justify the taking and killing of non-Muslim hostages. But Mr. Putin wants to claim that the broader Chechen separatist movement is rooted in extremist Islam, as if the region were a wholly owned subsidiary of al Qaeda. The truth is more complicated.

Read the entire article on The Wall Street Journal website.


Al-Arabiya GM: Muslims are main perpetrators of terrorism

The Associated Press

Updated: 6:32 a.m. ET Sept. 4, 2004CAIRO, Egypt – Muslims worldwide are the main perpetrators of terrorism, a humiliating and painful truth that must be acknowledged, a prominent Arab writer and television executive wrote Saturday, as Middle East media and officials expressed horror at the bloody rebel siege of a Russian school.

Unusually forthright self-criticism followed the end of the hostage crisis, along with warnings that such actions inflict more damage to the image of Islam than all its enemies could hope. Arab leaders and Muslim clerics denounced the school seizure as unjustifiable and expressed their sympathy.

Russian commandos stormed the school Friday in Beslan, Russia; it had been taken over by rebels demanding independence for Chechnya. Russian officials said Saturday that the death toll was at least 250, with twice as many wounded. Many of the casualties were children.

Images of terrified young survivors being carried from the scene aired repeatedly on Arab TV stations. Pictures of dead and wounded children ran on front pages of Arab newspapers Saturday.

Read the entire article on the MSNBC website.