13th April 2002 Sdr Steven Gan Editor, Malaysiakini
Thank you for carrying in English and BM reports on the anti-Israel gathering in front of the US Embassy yesterday afternoon. I stand corrected, but I get the impression from the reports that your reporters were not present there. Or, did you have to rely on the rather slanted AFP report because you were constrained by some kind of directive to certain media not to report on what really happened at the gathering?
Unfortunately, the AFP did not report the statements made by the BA top leaders to the assembly after their meeting with the US Ambassador. They stated that during that meeting, after the BA memorandum was presented and the Ambassador responded, there was quite a lengthy and cordial discussion.
Basically, the BA delegation condemned the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and the atrocities and destruction the Zionist regime has caused. We urged the President Bush to act immediately and decisively to effect the Israeli withdrawal. The delegation also expressed strongly the view that Ariel Sharon should be indicted for his war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Nowhere in the BA Memorandum and at no time during the speeches made by the BA top leaders was the call for Holy War or Jihad made. I do not know what Mahfuz Omar, PAS youth head, who was not a member of the delegation, told the crowd or the AFP reporter. But if he really said what the AFP reported, then I am sure he was only expressing his personal views.
The views of BA were officially stated in the BA memorandum and the statements made by the leaders to the assembly after meeting the Ambassador. I hope Malaysiakini could kindly publish the memorandum in full, and if possible, the statements made by Datuk Haji Fadzil Noor and Dr Wan Azizah Ismail.
Malaysiakini also carried a “report” by Nash Rahman. I am most surprised that that “report” is really a verbatim translation of the AFP report that you published. To say the least, I think it is misleading (if not unethical) for any journalist to publish under his own name a “report” which in actual fact is merely a nearly full translation of another person’s report.
Finally, a minor point regarding the number of people who participated in the gathering. In my estimate and the estimate many others (including a police officer), there were certainly more than 3000 there. The crowd that crammed around the speakers “platform” was easily around 1500. Across the road, those who lined up two or three persons deep, prominently holding banners and posters, there was surely about the same number.
Dr Syed Husin Ali