Sandy: the storm dividing the Arab world between sympathy and conspiracy
An Egyptian revolutionary, University of Cairo student and new mother, was one of the first victims of hurricane Sandy, it emerged today.
Professor Mai Sa’eed Al Arabi was among those killed in New York when the super-storm hit the megalopolis a few days ago. She had traveled to the city to get her PhD, not realizing that a trip to the US could be more dangerous than staying in the Middle East.
Mai took a big part in the Egyptian revolution, signing up to the April 6th Youth Movement and joining protestors in Tahrir Square to oust ex-President, Hosni Mubarak. Members of the youth group have mourned her passing on their official Facebook page.
The married mother of one also campaigned for liberal presidential candidate, Dr. Mohammad ElBaradei. Mai, who died just a few weeks before her 23rd birthday, is survived by her husband, Amjad Mahmoud and three-month-old son, Yousef.
At least 73 others have died after the giant storm hit the East Coast of America, attacking some of the most densely populated areas of the country.
For most Middle Easterners, the tragedy was a time to come together and pray for the safety of the American people. But for some radicals, the devastation caused by Sandy was a sign of God’s judgement on a population of “infidels”. The Grand Mufti of Saudi today stepped in to curb the tide of ‘gloating’.
At the most extreme end of the spectrum, the conspiracy theories took a more sinister turn. On one Syrian pro-regime Facebook group, the blame was placed firmly on the country’s rebels. Members of the ‘Syrian Armed Forces News Network’ page claimed President Bashar al Assad, along with Iranian forces, had engineered the hurricane as punishment for opposing him.
According to the post: “… hurricane Sandy, now buffeting the U.S., was carried out by highly advanced technology developed by the heroic Iranian regime, in coordination with our resistant regime.”
For the most part, Arab netizens laughed, with many commenting only with a string of ‘hahahahas’ on the page. Syrian pro-rebel Facebook pages took the opportunity to offer their own prayers for the victims of hurricane Sandy, presenting themselves as taking the moral high ground, unlike their pro-regime counterparts.
What do you think about hurricane Sandy? Is it some kind of punishment or the working of a complex weather system? Tell us your thoughts below.