FINALLY, THE WEST FINDS A WAY TO SANCTION RADICAL ISLAMIST ELITES
"After Sept. 11, 2001, Lebanese officials and Arab visitors here say, many wealthy Saudis and Gulf Arabs no longer felt welcome on their customary trips to Europe and the United States because of harsh questioning at airports and suspicion on the streets. Further, many worry about political unrest and attacks inspired by Al Qaeda in their own countries and see second homes in Lebanon as a possible refuge".
That measure already seems to contribute to the grwoing inter-Arab debate in Beirut- BEIRUT - A rash of violent attacks by Islamic militants worldwide has sparked a debate among Arab intellectuals.
Their concern: Why the majority of terror acts are committed by terrorists acting in the name of Islam.
Some blame the violence on an atmosphere of intolerance and extremism that has bred hatred of non-Muslims and urge honest soul-searching as a remedy.
Others insist the problem is with the West, particularly the United States and its unconditional support of Israel and its war on Iraq.
The debate in newspaper columns, letters from readers and TV talk shows may be low-key, intermittent and limited to the intellectual elite.
But some Arabs believe it is a step towards breaking the taboo of speaking out against problems within the Muslim religious establishment and its clergy and reversing support for extremism.
'The debate is a very positive indicator,' said Mr Sateh Noureddine, managing editor of Lebanon's As-Safir newspaper.
'If it continues, it could pose the larger and more important question of how qualified the Muslim religious establishment and clergy are to lead a political platform.'
He added: 'Right now, Muslim youths can choose only between Osama bin Laden and semi-literate clerics. What is required is an Arab religious establishment that's civilised, educated and vigilant.'
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