Elaph.com, a leading Arab world news website, played a trick on its readers this morning, with a story headlined: “Bush to cancel the election, declare a state of emergency and extend his term in office.”
The London-based site quoted unnamed American sources saying President Bush had “called an emergency joint session of Congress to suspend the outcome of the presidential election, citing grave national security threats that would result from the election of Senator Barack Obama as president.”
The online newspaper, apparently poking fun at corrupt dictators in many Arab and African countries, where leaders never cede power, regardless of the popular will, said Bush called for the “immediate suspension of the election in view of credible information, obtained by the CIA and confirmed by friendly foreign intelligence services, that Obama is linked to suspected terrorist cells in Afghanistan and Iran,” and that the president-elect “had been established to have links with a leading figure in Al Qaeda in Iraq.”
"The change that will sweep US politics and its future identity will not stop at US borders.”
The paper, owned by a Saudi entrepreneur and former editor-in-chief of the leading Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, reported that Obama and his family “have been arrested, while Senator McCain seems to have disappeared or [is] possibly detained in an undisclosed location.” Bush also “ordered hundreds of thousands of riot police into major US cities to maintain the piece and thwart this foreign conspiracy.”
Better still, the prank appears to have fooled a number of Arab readers, who commented on the story on the website!
Bush in the dustbin of history
On the Qatar-owned Al-Jazeera website Mohamed Youssef wrote:
“Congratulations to the American people and to all African Americans and to all Africans in general and to all advocates of civil rights. Let Bush and his associates and supporters and McCain go to the dustbin of history.”
Despite others' skepticism, some Arabs are pinning their hopes on the new Democratic president to press for genuine democratization of Arab regimes. On Al-Jazeera's website, Mai Shadid wrote:
"The change that will sweep US politics and its future identity will not stop at US borders, but it will also be exported to the outside and will definitely reach the Arab region, which has been tightly closed to all currents of democracy and political and economic reforms. It was the alliance between subsequent US administrations and the oppressive and corrupt [Arab] regimes that prevented the exportation of change to this region. Now we have an American administration that wants to save itself and learn from the mistakes of its predecessors in order to save its country and people.”
Tears of grief and tears of joy
Kuwait’s Awan newspaper published a color picture of a teary-eyed Obama on its front page, taking note of the fact that his grandmother had died a day before she could witness his historic victory.
Jordan for Obama
Jordan’s Ammon news website celebrated Obama’s victory, and pointed out that a symbolic vote taken at an American Embassy party on election night showed that, of 169 who cast votes, 124 voted for Obama, compared to 45 for McCain.
Al-Hayat, a leading London-based pan-Arab newspaper, had this banner headline: “Everything is possible in America. ” The kicker to its story: “In an historic election reminiscent of Kennedy, record turnout and exceptional enthusiasm.”
Annahar, the leading daily from Lebanon, had three words to say: “America Chose Change.”