Sunday, May 02, 2004

The other "Arab street" 

Several Western news outlets have by now picked up the story of the big anti-terrorism demonstration that took place in the Jordanian capital Amman a few days ago. While initially I quoted (via an Arab news agency) the official estimate of 250,000 participating in the march, other sources are being less generous with their figures. They range from "thousands", through "20,000" (the most common), to "40,000"; with several still sticking to "250,000".

Whatever the actual number, it is a positive sign that at least some regional elites are waking up to the terrorist threat, albeit only now that their own asses seem to be on the line.

The Amman rally received an interesting semi-official imprimatur, with King Abdullah's wife, Queen Rania, leading the march. It must give the Islamo-fascist types apoplexy not only to see some in the Arab world openly disagreeing with their modus operandi, but also being led in that endeavour by a woman.

Rania has released an official statement which says in part: "I believe the silent majority has started to speak out against terrorism in a first-of-its-kind demonstration in the Arab and Muslim world on this scale." Queen Rania seems by all accounts to be a pretty cool royal - check out her profile in "Time" magazine.

As the march took place on Thursday, it's unlikely that it will achieve any more media coverage. Some of the giants of the news business who thought it newsworthy enough included "Sarasota Herald-Tribune" ("Southwest Florida's Information Leader") and "Xposed" ("Men's Online Magazine"). But not "New York Times", "Washington Post", "Los Angeles Times", or for that matter CNN or BBC.

This is not a question of "liberal media bias" - the silence in this case cuts across ideological lines (although Fox managed to bury the mention of the demonstration in the second last paragraph of the general story about the terrorist attacks in Jordan). OK, so it's not a huge news story, but the big media has nevertheless missed out on a chance to let the world news audience hear some moderate voices coming out of the Muslim world. Contrast it with every time half a dozen losers somewhere in the Middle East burn an American flag.

Oh well, maybe Queen Rania should try for 500,000 next time.

MEANWHILE: Unfortunately another anti-terror rally, this time in Phoenix, Arizona, doesn't go nearly as well. Let's hope thought that it's a start of something good.


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