This post on Abu Aardvark yesterday is definitely worth reading. It’s his live-blogged account of a discussion on Al-Jazeera yesterday between program host Ahmed Mansour and Lebanon’s highest Shiite religious authority Sayed Mohamed Husayn Fadlallah. As Marc writes there,
- It never used to be seen as unusual for someone like Fadlallah to be featured on al-Jazeera, but in the current state of Sunni-Shia hysteria I guess it’s worth noting.
It’s also an absolutely fascinating encounter, one of the most interesting I’ve seen since this whole Shia-Sunni business got going (note: all that follows is liveblogging, not from transcript, so apologies if some of the wording isn’t exactly right). Mansour sympathizes with the Sunni insurgency – he was the reporter whose reporting from Falluja in 2004 caused such problems for the American campaign there. He pushed Fadlallah hard, in his polite but dogged way, on the position of the Shia in Arab politics. A lot of major tropes in current Sunni-Shia tensions were raised openly, with no screaming. This chance for a major Shia personality to directly address a vast Sunni audience, and to air sensitive issues openly in a calm setting, was a good example of what a platform like al-Jazeera can offer – sure, some people will complain about some of the points which were made being inflammatory or offensive, but the point is that all of those points are already very much out there anyway, and at least here they could be rebutted or debated.
… Fadlallah firmly denounced Sunni-Shia bloodshed of any kind, and called on all intra-Muslim killing to stop. But he also aired complaints about the “takfiris” (his word [ML]; means something like “hardline Sunni repudiators of Shiites” ~HC) who openly called for the killing of Shia Muslims. Fadlallah’s bottom line: the Muslim umma needs to understand that the problems are not between Sunni and Shia but between Islam and the American administration.
Overall, a simply fascinating exchange. No time to analyze it any further, but well worth everyone’s attention.
It does sound like an interesting program. We don’t have t.v. here. If anyone can point me to a downloadable version or a trancsript of it, that would be great.
Update, Fri a.m. Cairo time:
Thanks to the kind soul who sent me the fairly lengthy BBC-monitoring account of the program, which you can now read here.