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Egypt Leftists Slam U.S. Ambassador

September 23, 2002

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CAIRO, Egypt (AP) _ Forty Egyptian leftists declared the U.S. ambassador ``persona non grata″ after he accused the Egyptian media of irresponsibility and distorting the facts about the Sept. 11 attacks.

A statement criticizing Ambassador David Welch signed by 34 leftist intellectuals and writers appeared in several Arab newspapers Sunday. One of the organizers, newspaper columnist Ahmed Taha el-Nuqr, said six others had signed the statement after it was sent to the papers.

El-Nuqr, a columnist with the pro-government newspaper Al-Akhbar, said he and others were ``shocked″ by an article by Welch published in Al-Ahram, one of Egypt’s leading pro-government dailies, and posted on the embassy Web site Friday.

In his article, Welch called on ``responsible media″ to ``exercise their editorial judgment.″

Many in the Arab world don’t believe that Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida terror network carried out the Sept. 11 attacks. Speculation the United States or Israel was behind the attacks to create a reason for attacking Arabs and Muslims is rampant, despite the appearance on Arab television stations of bin Laden and other al-Qaida members claiming responsibility for the attacks.

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