From worlds away -- maybe another planet -- "explanations" for the tsunami catastrophe begin.
On Palestinian Authority TV, according to MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute), Sheik Ibrahim Mudeiris asked Allah in a Friday sermon to have mercy on "all the Muslims who died" in the tsunami. Which means everyone else is on his own. Next, the sheik railed against the disaster's cause, which was neither earth, skies nor anything divine in between. It seems it all had to do with "the oppression and corruption caused by America and the Jews" -- naturally. General corruption in Bangkok worked its way into the homily as well, but mainly as the sordid site of "Zionist and American investments." The question for his flock was: "Do you want the sea to lower its waves in the face of this corruption that it sees with its own eyes?" "No," he replied, "the zero hour has come." Too bad his handlers haven't.
Saudi cleric Muhammad Al-Munajjid's take, as broadcast on state-controlled Saudi television (also reported by MEMRI), was somewhat more religious. Or rather more anti-religious. Make that anti-Christian. "The problem is that the (Christian) holidays are accompanied by forbidden things: by immorality, abomination, adultery, alcohol, drunken dancing and ... and revelry," he said, displaying a less-than-Dickensian expansiveness of spirit. "At the height of immorality, Allah took vengeance on these criminals ... Allah struck them with an earthquake. He finished off the Richter scale," he added. "All nine levels gone."
No mention of the tens of thousands of non-Christians "gone" alongside said "criminals" -- and, of course, no mention of the vast amounts of "criminal" (and even, ye gods, Jewish) aid pouring into the region, most expeditiously via the United States military, in amounts that dwarf the contributions of the Muslim world.
Then there's the Web site Jihad Unspun. In a feat of contorted thinking not even The New York Times editorial page would attempt, it connects the killer from the sea to Thailand's support for United States foreign policy -- that is, for "the Christian Crusaders" at "the altar of capitalism." No word on why Allah kept other U.S. allies tsunami-free, not to mention Washington, D.C., and Tel Aviv.
Still, it's not all about blaming the Great Satan. In Indonesia, The Washington Post reports Muslim imams are blaming themselves -- or, rather, their congregations. They have explained the colossal devastation as a warning from Allah against people's laxity in observing sharia law. "God is angry with Aceh people, because most of them do not do what is written in the Koran and the Hadith (the collected sayings and actions of the prophet Mohammed)," one cleric told the newspaper.