9 January 2004

I killed people. I did it for my country

SAADI YACEF: Now, for the Arab population, there's really no reason for them to use terrorism. The real terrorism would be to go into the schools and begin to educate people and begin to bring them to a level of more scientific knowledge. You fight for something like this. They want to really apply a religion that's different from the religion of Muhammad. For example, in Algeria in certain places, if you're sitting in a chair and you're eating with a fork, what you're doing is considered to be against Islam. You're the enemy of Islam. Because the Prophet Muhammad didn't eat with a fork -- you have to eat with your fingers! And now there's terrorism in Algeria -- a little -- it's been going on for about 10 years. And children of a few years old are being killed. Why? Why? For what reason? They are free, in a country that's free. We shouldn't have pity for these kinds of people, because these people are really destroyers. What they're doing is not to defend a cause or the truth. If it was for a just cause, then yes. But just to go out and kill, to bring down two towers in New York, what's the result?

SALON: In Iraq, are the bombings of the American soldiers just?

SAADI YACEF: Yes. [Hesitates.] I would've given a lot of money and done a lot to get rid of Saddam. But where is the democracy? Arabs have never been democratic, only in a few countries.

[The allotted interview time ends, and Yacef and his entourage prepare to leave.]

SALON: But is that a problem of the Arabs or a problem of the West?

SAADI YACEF: It's a problem of the whole world. You have to learn to be democratic, developed over time. Somebody can't just come over to you and say, 'Now you have to be democratic.' It must be learned.

Yacef produced, and starred in, The battle of Algiers. He's now an Algerian senator. The interview is disturbing, but fascinating, especially his point that the French kept making the same errors in one colony after another and always insisted they were there for the good of the colonised people. What he does not address is why there was so little Arab opposition to Saddam or the other Arab dictators.

What we don't address is why the governments of the West deal with tyrants.

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