A prominent Arab journalist wrote that Muslims must acknowledge the painful fact that Muslims are the main perpetrators of terrorism.
'Our terrorist sons are an end product of our corrupted culture,' Abdulrahman al-Rashed, general manager of Al-Arabiya television, wrote in his daily column published in the pan-Arab Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper. It ran under the headline, 'The Painful Truth: All the World Terrorists are Muslims!'
Al Rashed ran through a list of recent attacks by Islamic extremist groups -- in Russia, Iraq, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen -- many of which are influenced by the ideology of Osama bin Laden, the Saudi born leader of the al-Qaida terror network.
'Most perpetrators of suicide operations in buses, schools and residential buildings around the world for the past 10 years have been Muslims,' he wrote. Muslims will be unable to cleanse their image unless 'we admit the scandalous facts,' rather than offer condemnations or justifications.
'The picture is humiliating, painful and harsh for all of us.'
Arab TV stations repeatedly aired footage of terrified young survivors being carried from the school siege scene, while pictures of dead and wounded children ran on front pages of Saturday's Arab newspapers.
Ahmed Bahgat, an Egyptian Islamist and columnist for Egypt's leading pro-government newspaper, Al-Ahram, wrote that the images 'showed Muslims as monsters who are fed by the blood of children and the pain of their families.'
'If all the enemies of Islam united together and decided to harm it ... they wouldn't have ruined and harmed its image as much as the sons of Islam have done by their stupidity, miscalculations, and misunderstanding of the nature of this age,' Bahgat wrote.
Other Islamists were more cautious in their criticism.
Mohammed Mahdi Akef, leader of Egypt's largest Islamic group, the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, said the siege did not fit the Islamic concept of 'jihad,' or holy war, but took care not to characterize it as terrorism.
'What happened ... is not jihad because our Islam obligates us to respect the souls of human beings,' Akef said. 'Real jihad should target occupiers of our lands only like the Palestinian and Iraqi resistance.'
Ali Abdullah, an Islamic scholar in Bahrain who follows the ultraconservative Salafi stream of Islam, condemned the school attack as 'un-Islamic,' but insisted Muslims weren't behind it.
'I have no doubt in my mind that this is the work of the Israelis who want to tarnish the image of Muslims and are working alongside Russians who have their own agenda against the Muslims in Chechnya,' said Abdullah, reviving an old conspiracy theory altered to fit any situation."