"He was very religious, and he didn't greet women. He wouldn't even look at a woman if she was wearing a short skirt," wrote Lawrence Wright in a September 2002 New Yorker article on Ayman al-Zawahiri, "The Man Behind Bin Laden: How an Egyptian doctor became a master of terror." With talk of al-Zawahiri as likely successor to the late Osama, sent to his great reward yesterday by America's finest, we are pleased to republish our January 2, 2004 "The woman made me do it, Lord," the top blog entry in a Google News search this morning:
January 2, 2004. Is that all it really comes down to? A man's fear of his own feelings towards women? We were struck with the thought today in reading Art & Literature's "Articles of Note" republication of a September 2002 The New Yorker article by Lawrence Wright on Ayman Zawahiri, "The Man behind Bin Laden: How an Egyptian doctor became a master of terror."
Here's what caught our eye:
. . . In 1950, the year before Ayman al-Zawahiri was born, Sayyid Qutb, a well-known literary critic in Cairo, returned home after spending two years at Colorado State College of Education, in Greeley.
. . . "It is astonishing to realize, despite his advanced education and his perfectionism, how primitive the American really is in his views on life," Qutb wrote upon his return to Egypt. "His behavior reminds us of the era of the caveman. He is primitive in the way he lusts after power, ignoring ideals and manners and principles." Qutb was impressed by the number of churches in America—there were more than twenty in Greeley alone—and yet the Americans he met seemed completely uninterested in spiritual matters. He was appalled to witness a dance in a church recreation hall, during which the minister, setting the mood for the couples, dimmed the lights and played "Baby, It's Cold Outside." "It is difficult to differentiate between a church and any other place that is set up for entertainment, or what they call in their language, 'fun,' " he wrote. . . The American was primitive in his art as well. "Jazz is his preferred music, and it is created by Negroes to satisfy their love of noise and to whet their sexual desires," he concluded.
. . . Qutb returned to Egypt a radically changed man. In what he saw as the spiritual wasteland of America, he re-created himself as a militant Muslim, and he came back to Egypt with the vision of an Islam that would throw off the vulgar influences of the West. Islamic society had to be purified, and the only mechanism powerful enough to cleanse it was the ancient and bloody instrument of jihad. "Qutb was the most prominent theoretician of the fundamentalist movements," Zawahiri later wrote . . . "Qutb said, 'Brother push ahead, for your path is soaked in blood. Do not turn your head right or left but look only up to Heaven.' "
Similarly, when Zawahiri was in the market for a wife, "He had made a favorable impression on the Nowair family, who were a little dazzled by his distinguished ancestry. 'He was polite and agreeable,'" Essam says. "'He was very religious, and he didn't greet women. He wouldn't even look at a woman if she was wearing a short skirt.'"
Hey, guys, lighten up.