Before a World Cup qualifying match this week in Canberra, Australia, Saudi Arabia’s national soccer team failed to observe a moment of silence for the eight people killed, two of them Australian nationals, in the London Bridge terror attack Sunday. According to The Wall Street Journal:
The incident prompted a furious response in Australia, with the crowd jeering the Saudi team, which instead of lining up moved into positions for the coming match on Thursday as Australia’s players linked arms to pay silent respects to victims. While many of the Saudi players stood still, others including the team captain, Osama Hawsawi, continued warm-ups and stretches.
The moment of disrespect prompted the Saudi Arabia Football Federation to issue an apology for the team, stating it condemns “all acts of terrorism” and “deeply regrets and unreservedly apologies (sic) for any offense caused by the failure of some members of the representative team of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to formally observe the one minute’s silence in memory of the victims of the London terrorist attack. The players did not intend any disrespect to the memories of the victims or to cause upset to their families, friends or any individual affected by the atrocity.”
That’s all fine and well; and an apology, in the world we currently inhabit, is welcomed.
However, the Football Federation Australia issued a statement Friday indicating it knew beforehand the Saudi team would not line up and show respect for the moment of silence because, the team said, it wasn’t in “keeping with Saudi culture.”
Well. Let’s talk about that for a second. Despite Saudi Arabia being a Middle Eastern ally of the United States, its support and promotion of Wahhabism — the extreme version of Islam born in Saudi Arabia that is favored by the virulent murderers of the Islamic State — makes the soccer team’s petulance in the face of a moment to honor the loss of innocent life galling and not a little infuriating.
Every time a terror attack occurs, the world asks anew: Where are the moderate Muslims expressing their outrage and sadness at the perversion of their religious ideology?
Apparently they’re doing hamstring stretches on the sidelines, in keeping with the metaphor.
Flimsy apologies after the fact are weak, moderate Muslims. If you want to end the carnage — which often happens right in your own neighborhoods — you’re going to need to get in the game.