Saudi anti-terrorism summit panned on social media

Use of clip of Palestinian fighter at Islamic Coalition against Terrorism conference in Riyadh stirs social media storm.

islamic coalition
The Riyadh conference featured a clip showing a Palestinian fighting Israeli forces [Al Jazeera]

Palestinians and Arabs on social media have reacted with anger after a newly formed, self-proclaimed anti-terrorism coalition opened their first meeting in Riyadh with a video that included a scene of a Palestinian fighting Israeli occupation forces.

Monday’s summit of the Islamic Coalition Against Terrorism was attended by representatives from 41 Muslim countries and was led by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

It is unclear whether the inclusion of the clip was deliberate.

People on social media characterised the incident as a form of Arab “normalisation” with the Israeli occupation, at the expense of Palestinians.

The image of the Palestinian dates back to 2001, during the second Palestinian uprising (intifada) against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Social media lit up after the video presentation, with many Palestinians and Arabs showing their discontent on Twitter about the usage of the image.

“This image from the video that was shown in the opening session of the ‘Council of ministers of defence of the Islamic Coalition to Combat Terrorism’ in Saudi Arabia is from 2001 and is a Palestinian resistance fighter clashing with the occupation army in the south of occupied Jerusalem. To those who are hurrying to normalise with the occupation, it was and will always be: resistance is not terrorism,” one Twitter user wrote. 

“This is resistance and the highest degree of honour and dignity, which you lack. Terrorism is what you have carried out against your oppressed people for decades,” another tweeted.

“People do not care what your criteria for classifying terrorism is. Terrorism is all who normalise with Israel. Palestinian resistance has more honour than you.”

“The heads of Arab states have no values when they call those who lift our [Arab and Islamic states] heads high, terrorists.”

Others said there was no question that the usage of the image was deliberate.

“Do you think it was a mistake or a coincidence? No; it was intentional to strike Palestinian resistance and to normalise with the Zionists, and this is only to pave the way.”

Avichay Adraee, Israeli army spokesperson, also weighed in, describing the inclusion of the clip as proof of agreement over what is “terrorism”.

“The Arabs speak the truth, whether it was a mistake or intentional. Terrorism is terrorism […] There is no need for Hamas and its supporters to be angered, for no one should be ashamed of what they are. What happened today is that the ‘disease’ was detected. Will it be eradicated?” he said on Twitter.

The incident comes as Saudi Arabia is facing criticism from Palestinians after Israeli officials openly discussed covert ties and normalisation with Riyadh.

In June, the Arab world reacted similarly after the Saudi foreign minister called on Qatar to end its support of Hamas, the Gaza-based movement. 

Adel al-Jubeir characterised Hamas as a “terrorist organisation” amid a rift between Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain.

Thousands of social media users stressed that resistance is the right of the Palestinian people in order to gain freedom from Israeli occupation.

They also said that speaking about Hamas as a “terrorist movement” is doing a service to Israel and echoes the statements of Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli prime minister

At the time, Salim al-Menhali, a UAE-based professor of international relations, said: “It is normal that Hamas is resistance, not terrorism, for it does not attack anyone; it defends Palestine from the occupiers… What is not normal is for Hamas to be attacked to please the enemy.”

Source: Al Jazeera