News of former Israeli premier Ariel Sharon’s death prompted a deluge of activity on social media, much of it by Arabs angered by the former Zionist leader’s major role in Israel's growing violence and aggression against the Palestinians.
Using the Twitter hashtag “RIH [Rest in Hell] Sharon,” users of the social networking site made comments against the man popularly known by Israelis as “The King of Israel” and “The Lion of God.”
Twitter user @Inabileh wrote “now he will go and meet Adolf, I’m sure that’s what he wanted :( he was a sadistic psychopath who loved blood, death, torture and rape.”
Riyadh-based Twitter user @Moooly_alshehri wrote “it is not only good news and happiness for Palestine but for all Islamic countries … Thanks god,” while UAE-based @Sadiqjarrar said that Sharon “Snatches the title of “the first enemy of the Arabs” and a track record of massacres against humanity.”
On Facebook, Habib Siddiqui from Qatar said “bye bye Sharon, some deaths are worth celebrating,” while Hani Dahlan from Kuwait said “I guess Sharon delayed his departure out of fear!”
“You know who is he meeting in hell tonight?? All his Earthy Enemies including Arafat who will welcome him for sure, with a suffocating kiss,” Dahlan added.
A popular one-liner shared on social media networks goes: “Satan has finally decided to retire now that a bigger devil [Sharon] has become available to run hell.”
So why is Sharon so unpopular in the Arab world?
“I think many Arabs and Palestinians think of him as one of the most malignant prime ministers of Israeli,” Khaled Fahmy, a professor and chair of American University of Cairo’s history department told Al Arabiya News.
Sharon’s long, eventful run in the Israeli military and army mean that he has “serious blood on his hands” according to the academic.
“Sharon is not someone to be subtle or polite about,” said Fahmy. “This is not a military general or just a prime minister who had a coma, this is someone with a very bloody history. I’m not surprised at all that people think of him as the devil,” he added.
In 1983, a commission established by the Israeli government found that he bore “personal responsibility” for the massacre by Lebanese militias of Palestinian civilians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in 1982 that happened during Sharon’s tenure as defense minister.
However, being found responsible for the incident did not affect Sharon’s successful prime ministerial bid two decades later.
Much of Sharon’s power base would have been with “extreme right wing” Israelis who support settlements seeping over into Palestinian territory, Fahmy said.