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Reaction to Terror Mixed in Middle East - 2001-09-12


Headlines in Middle East newspapers are reflecting the horror of Tuesday's terrorist attack in the United States. But the sentiment on the streets of the Middle East is a bit different.

"Terror spread in the United States."

"Panic in the USA."

"Darkest Day in American History."

"America is Burning."

"Resurrection Day in the States."

"International Shock."

These were the banner headlines in newspapers across the Middle East Wednesday. Many of them uncharacteristically were printed in red.

The headline that appeared in El Ahram in Cairo seemed to say it all: "State of Surprise and Shock Throughout the World."

Leaders in the Middle East are responding with words of sympathy, condemnation, and condolences. Even the long-time nemesis of the United States, Libya, sent a message of sympathy. There was no such message from Iraq.

However, there was a somewhat different flavor at local coffee shops in Cairo Wednesday regarding Tuesday's terrorist attacks.

While everyone that VOA spoke with in Cairo said there should be no tolerance for terrorism, many seemed to suggest that, maybe, the United States had gotten something it deserved.

One woman smiled when she said "we're happy, very happy and we can't say more than that," she said, "civilians are another thing, they are innocent people who have not committed something wrong,' she said, 'but it is because America is taking a stance against us."

A man in Cairo said the United States should have paid more attention to the Middle East. "America is the first and biggest nation all over the world," he said. "It should look around them, all the areas. That means the Middle East problem, for example. Why you didn't put your hand on it? You can finish everything, the struggle between the Israelis and the Palestinians."

Another Cairo resident had this reaction. "This is a very sad event because of the civilian loss of life," he said. "It's a very sad event and these terrorist attacks should be stopped, civilian attacks should be stopped all over the world."

This man in Cairo said he would not dance in the street over the terrorist attack against the United States, but said he is not crying about it either. He says he is not pleased innocent people were killed but he says he opposes America's continued support for Israel against Palestinians and therefore, he says, the attack made him feel very happy.

Security at U.S. and Israeli facilities throughout the Middle East is on the highest state of alert.

The U.S. embassy in Cairo is closed and personnel were asked to keep their children home from school. The American University in Cairo is closed. The family members of Israel's embassy staff in Cairo were evacuated to Israel late Tuesday. It was the second such evacuation in the past year due to security concerns.