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Analysis: Arab world reacts to murder of young Israeli Arab woman in Istanbul terror attack

Rachel Avraham explains how media outlets and social media within Arab Israeli society, the Palestinian Authority and the Arab world at large responded to the murder of the late Lian Nasser, age 19, who was killed in the Istanbul terror attack on New Year’s Eve.
Photo Credit: Channel 2 News

Usually, whenever an Israeli is killed in a terror attack, most of the Arab world either praises the terrorist for killing a member of the perceived “Zionist enemy” or justifies such an act of brutal terror due to perceived Palestinian grievances against the State of Israel. Even when the perpetrators are not Palestinian and the victims are non-Israeli Jews such as in the terror attack that occurred in a Parisian kosher supermarket in 2015, Hamas and other elements within the Arab world praised the perpetrators as “martyrs.” Given this, the question arises following the recent murderous terror attack on New Year’s Eve in Istanbul that was orchestrated by ISIS, how did the Arab world react to the murder of an Israeli Arab young woman?

According to the Times of Israel, Palestinian social media discussed the terror attack thoroughly and although many Palestinians were sympathetic to the fate of the late Lian Nasser, age 19, a large number of Palestinian social media users were critical of Nasser and her Israeli Arab friends “for going against the Muslim tradition by being in a nightclub and celebrating the secular New Year.” Other Israeli Arabs who survived this brutal terror attack were flabbergasted by such responses coming from Palestinian social media. Tira resident Dr. Ala’a Abdulahi, who was also in the nightclub at the time of the terror attack, told Channel 10 television: “It is better to ignore such people. They are ignorant.” Nur Samara, another resident of Tira, even filed a Police complaint against such people: “These were girls who just wanted to travel, to enjoy themselves, to eat and drink. That’s all.”

Official Arab media outlets were a bit more sympathetic.  However, the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency considered Lian Nasser to be a Palestinian and not an Israeli Arab while emphasizing that she was buried in a Muslim cemetery.  Furthermore, they described what happened in Istanbul to be a “shooting attack” rather than a terror attack, preferring to only use the world terror to describe what happened in quotation marks. Nevertheless, they did cover Nasser’s family in a humane manner, which is something that they usually would not do if the victim had been Jewish. They quoted the mother as stating: “Where is my precious daughter? How can I go on in life without her? Lian, wake up, even for a minute so that I can hug you and tell you how much I love you.” They also noted that Mamun Abd al-Hay, the mayor of Tira, declared a day of mourning.

The Egyptian Al Ahram coverage was a bit better. They had no problem calling Lian Nasser an Israeli Arab. They noted that she was the youngest victim in the Istanbul terror attack and quoted her uncle as calling her a “kind, loveable and clever” person. For the Egyptian Al Ahram, what happened was a massacre and not just a terror attack. However, they still used the word terrorism in quotation marks and referred to the ISIS terror suspect as a “militant.”

Al Arabiya also did not have a problem stating that Lian Nasser was an Israeli Arab. However, they also preferred to label the Istanbul terror attack as a “deadly New Year’s eve attack” rather than as a terror attack. They too only used the word terror in quotation marks. However, their piece did humanize the victim. Al Arabiya quoted Lian’s father Layan Nasser as stating that he was against his daughter going to Istanbul for it was not safe but his daughter, who loved fashion and make-up, did not listen to him. According to her cousin Hadil Haj-Yihya, “She really wanted this trip. It was her first trip abroad and she was so excited to travel. She was just an innocent kid. She doesn’t know about politics and terrorism. She just wanted to live life.”

While Lian Nasser maybe was not a politically active person, there are those that have tried to politicize her murder. According to a recent report published in Arutz Sheva, Lian’s mother Lucy described her daughter as a “martyr” and “saint” during her funeral that was attended by more than one politician from the Joint Arab List. At the funeral, MK Ahmed Tibi stated: “ISIS is not Islam and most of the victims of its crimes are Muslims. The entire Arab public is shocked and feels great sadness and anger. ISIS is a fascistic cancer.” It is important to note that Tibi does not usually condemn terror attacks against Israelis. This statement came after Tibi called for a rebellion against Israel on a Hezbollah affiliated TV channel.

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