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11-07-2003, 11:17 PM
Arabs Bristle At Bush's Speech on Democracy
Commentators Criticize Interference, Hypocracy
Associated Press
Saturday, November 8, 2003; Page A16

CAIRO, Nov. 7 -- The Iranian government told President Bush to mind his own business Friday after he called for greater democracy in the Middle East, and commentators across the region expressed similar and equally caustic views.

While some stressed that most people in the Middle East genuinely want democracy, Bush's preaching on freedom aroused resentment in a region where the United States is accused of waging war on Iraq and siding blindly with Israel against the Palestinians.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry's spokesman, Hamid Reza Asefi, condemned Bush's speech, delivered Thursday in Washington, as an "obvious interference in Iran's internal affairs," the country's Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

"No individual, or group, has ever commissioned Mr. Bush to safeguard their rights . . . and basically, keeping in mind the dark record of the United States in suppressing the democratic movements around the globe, he is not in a position to talk about such issues," Asefi was quoted as saying.

Few other Middle Eastern governments had immediate reactions, because Bush's speech came Thursday night in the Middle East, when Muslims, observing Ramadan, were breaking their daytime fasts. But newspaper editorials and columnists across the region, while praising the merits of democracy, said Washington either could not or would not help freedom flourish in the Arab world.

"Arabs want democracy. They hate their corrupt regimes more than they hate the United States," wrote Abdul Bari Atwan, editor in chief of the London-based Arabic-language daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi.

"But," he added, "they are not going to listen attentively to the speech of the American president, first, because the consecutive American administrations, in the past 50 years, supported those regimes . . . and because all true democracies in the world came as a result of internal struggle, not due to foreign intervention, particularly American."

In its Friday edition, a signed editorial in the leading Lebanese daily An Nahar described the speech as "very attractive words" but said that "before they become tangible policies that deal with the real problems, they will continue to be boring, empty rhetoric."

"Exposing the region's ills is useless. We already know them.
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11-08-2003, 09:58 AM

"Arabs want democracy. They hate their corrupt regimes more than they hate the United States," <hr /></blockquote>

Well that's good to know at least /ccboard/images/graemlins/laugh.gif