The year 1990 was difficult for everyone in the field of journalism and politics. The Arab media was divided, war was declared on all levels, and unaffiliated journalists were disoriented. Additionally, French authorities locked down all Arab media establishments tied to Saddam’s regime in the wake of his occupation of Kuwait, and we found ourselves amidst a raging war which we neither planned nor were ready for.
Majalla magazine played a crucial role in the ongoing battle by reporting the invasion and the international vigilance to confront it. On another front, powerful pro-Saddam media was also widespread, and it stated that Iraq is facing the western alliance and claimed an alleged plot against Baghdad, ignoring the displacement of more than one million Kuwaiti and other individuals and heinous executions committed against them.
Within this brawl, pro-Saddam associates launched a campaign against Majalla magazine, and articles were written attacking the prominent scholar and writer Edward Saeed who was one of the magazine’s leading writers. The late Edward Saeed was constantly asked to leave the so-called “oil nations” and join Saddam’s division.
At the end of the year, I was surprised by Dr Saeed’s letter of apology to carry on writing in Majalla, admitting he faces enormous pressures demanding him to stop. We exchanged correspondence, and I had no need to explain to him the nature of the political dispute and I reassured him that Majalla magazine never held anyone accountable for their views or inclinations, and in return, no one should expect from us political statements consistent with theirs. Indeed, Saeed was known for criticizing Saddam and his occupation of Kuwait and also refusing speech polarity from Western countries and their ongoing silence towards the Israeli occupation, without linking the two matters together.
Unfortunately, he was subjected to pressure and refrained from writing, for many of his friends in Washington, who were Arab figures, diplomats, and intellectuals of the Arab American community, allied with Saddam and formed an opposition group supporting the Iraqi invasion back then!
Edward Saeed continued visiting us in London and valued that Majalla was the first Arab publication which transported him to the world of the Arab readers who used to read his translated intellective writings from American media and other Western publishing houses.
Majalla was Saeed’s first experience writing to Arabs, and it revealed everything he used to overlook. He gained vast popularity and respect among the Arab intellectuals, and I had met Saeed during my days in the US. I attended his first lecture at the American University in Washington when I was studying there in the early ’80s and then working as a reporter for the Al-Jazeera newspaper in the capital as well. Saeed had exceeded the limits of his academic fame, as he was a professor of comparative English literature at Columbia University, and he became one of the most prominent figures in political media discussions in the United States. He was also known for his most renowned book "Orientalism" and other publications such as “Kharej al Makan”. Moreover, he was an accomplished pianist.
When Saeed began writing for Majalla, we were concerned about his Arabic writing kills, and he told me he asks his mother to proofread his works. Then we agreed he would write his article in English.
Saeed is greatly valued in the West. His worth was only recognized by the elites of the Arab world, and this made him one of the Magazines very important pillars for many years.