Bin Laden’s War Against ”Freethinkers”
Daniele Castellani Perelli 11 July 2006

“What is new about Bin Laden’s rhetoric in his most recent tape? The most interesting aspect of it from my perspective is that the speech involves everybody”. Tariq Alhomayed is the Editor-in-Chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, the leading pan-Arab international daily. According to Memri, an American institute specializing in monitoring Arab media, Alhomayed has been the only journalist of a prominent Arab newspaper to attack Bin Laden’s threats. In an audiocassette released on April 23rd , 2006, Bin Laden addressed the issue of the Danish cartoons, and warned that anyone mocking the Prophet Mohammed or making fun of Islam should be killed.

In his editorial “Bin Laden’s Speech…More Danger Ahead”, published on April 25th, Alhomayed firmly criticised the Saudi terrorist, whose examples in the speech “are further proof that he has a weak understanding of history and is a poor political player”. However, Alhomayed also admitted that Bin Laden has proved himself “a master of incitement”, especially in his call to fight liberal Arab intellectuals whom he described as “the mockers of Islam”. This part of the speech Alhomayed argues was “paradoxically not discussed by either the media in the West or the Middle East”. Even though Saudi authorities have found, in the past, lists of writers and journalists wanted by Al-Qaeda members, this time the threat comes directly from the leader himself.

Bin Laden, in fact, attacked Arab “freethinkers”, naming several of them, and calling for them to be killed. “He cited the precedent of Ka’b ibn Al-Ashraf" underlines Memri "whom the Prophet had killed for writing poems against him, as a model for proper conduct in such cases”. “Many of them are writers in newspapers" said Bin Laden as quoted by the reformist website Middle East Transparent "and many of them are actors and broadcasters in the media. We warn here that a Muslim is not allowed to listen to any program that includes discussion with heretics, or to watch any show that makes fun of Islam and religious Muslims, for this is one of the greatest sins”. Bin Laden’s list of "heretics" includes scholars like Ahmad Al Baghdadi, Turki Al-Hamad, Hassan Al Turabi, Gamal Al Banna, Mohammad Said Al Eshmawi, Wafa Sultan, Lafif Al Akhdar and many others.

“The danger of this incitement by Bin Laden is that it coincides with daily campaigns that feature on Islamist fundamentalist websites, what I call the kitchens of hatred" concludes Tariq Alhomayed "It seems to be a launching signal, in which case, security authorities need to take a clear stand against such instigators and be well prepared for what is to come”.