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Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|Reaction to Sept 11 and other good articles!|
|07/19/02 at 07:23:58|
Although I don't agree with everything on this site, I think it has a lot of excellent articles and links. Surprisingly I agreed with most of them. Probably because the author (although not Muslim) is viewing things from a World perspective, instead of the usual "American media" one.
Reaction to the September 11, 2001 events
It was with disbelief and shock that around the world, people saw the news footage of the events on September 11, 2001 of the planes-turned-missiles that saw the destruction of the World Trade Center towers and damage of the Pentagon. What is probably the worst terrorist attack on the United States, is totally inexcusable and to be condemned.
Initial fears were that over 6000 people had been killed. In December 2001, as reported by British paper, the Independent (December 21, 2001), New York officials said that number was below 3000. (There have been a number of factors for this declining number, including initial overestimates, more than one person reporting missing person, heroic rescue operations, etc. This lower number doesn't in any way reduce impact though.)
The subsequent bombing of Afghanistan to attack Osama Bin Laden's Al Qaeda terrorist network and the Taliban for harboring them has also led to some 3,500 civilian deaths, according to an independent study released at the beginning of December 2001.
The ghastly terrorist attacks led to a mixture of political, social and economic reaction around the world.
As extremist Arab terrorists are believed to be the perpetrators, hatred and anti-Islam sentiment, without distinguishing the despotic militants from ordinary Muslims has increased, even though most of the Muslim communities around the world have condemned this act.
While visible efforts were seen by politicians to try to separate terrorists from Muslims in general, it has not been easy. On the one hand, from years of economic and geopolitical history, there are some aspects of distrust, while on the other hand, extremists in the Muslim and Christian communities are further adding to the antagonisms. For example, earlier on especially during the height of the shock and anger, extremist tendencies in the West resulted in beating and even killings of Muslims and even non-Muslims, while others saw this as "proof" that Islam is inherently violent or that it is the threat to the rest of the world, etc. And on the Muslim side, there have also been equally extreme reactions, from support of these terrorist acts to even being convinced that this was some sort of Zionist conspiracy! In both cases these seem to be a minority of people with such extreme views but of course the concern is always that it will increase as the situations progress and escalate.
There was no question that there was going to be some sort of retaliation and response from America. One could not have expected them seriously to refrain from wanting to take revenge. Yet the fear was in what form this revenge would be and how it would be carried out, plus the impacts on ordinary Afghans who have suffered at the hands of the Taliban and outside forces and influences for years. In addition, some eight months after the attacks it is coming out in the mainstream press around the world that the CIA had warned George Bush of the threats weeks before September 11. This has caused an uproar in many places, including the United States Congress, where members are demanding more information to understand if all those deaths could have been prevented.
Resulting "War on Terror"
Since the terrible events of September 11, growing domestic and international criticism of the Bush Administration has quietened, considerably. The September 11 events have resulted in a "war on terror" which has seen Bush's popularity soar.
Up to September 11, 2001, the Bush administration was being criticized around the world for its stances on various issues domestically and internationally. Even European and other allies were very critical of numerous positions.
But even before the Bush Administration, throughout the world, many nations and groups of people had expressed their frustrations in various ways at the impacts U.S. foreign policies had on them on all sorts of issues, ranging from economic/globalization issues that have deepened poverty for most around the world; geopolitics/arms/missile defense; environmental issues and so on. Protests either directly, or indirectly at U.S. policies have occurred all around the world -- especially on globalization issues -- as mentioned on this web site. (See the section on global protests for more on that, for example).
Yet that cannot be an excuse for the atrocity of September 11 as it killed many innocent people. At the same time, people have correctly pointed out that when other regions around the world have faced similar terrorist attacks, the outpouring of concern and condemnation has not been as much. This Washington Post news article is an example.
However, behind the unity of the American people in the shock of September 11, there has resulted heightened security and concerns throughout the world which of course affects all citizens. For many there is the concern of the crackdown of freedoms and civil liberties in various nations that has resulted because of this. There is also a concern that various countries around the world can also use this "war on terror" as an excuse to pursue more military-oriented options.
Even in the U.S. some of the resulting policies on how suspects will be treated, on how access to personal information will be made available for security concerns and so on, have led to debates at all levels on what is considered an attack on civil liberties, and what is reasonable for security. On the foreign policy arena, there is increasing concern that the U.S. will be able to use the "war on terror" to pursue aggressive policies that were previously criticized by many other people. This can range from economic, to political and even military policies.
There is a concern too, importantly, that the resulting "war on terror", with its loose definition of terror will also affect all those working honestly for peace and social justice for all, as even they will come under scrutiny for perhaps appropriately criticizing policies of any number of nations and organizations around the world, including those from the West.
The "war on terror" has in some respects, led to what some have called a "war on freedom".
While citizens everywhere, especially Americans, are rightly outraged at the attacks, the mainstream media has largely concentrated on the effects, the various aftermaths and impacts, and reporting what political leaders are doing, saying or not doing, or not saying, etc. They have also reported immense detail on some of the aspects of the actual bombing in Afghanistan, etc. As with most other conflicts in recent history though, media reporting, while enormous in quantity, is comparatively lacking in depth, historical context, and investigative analysis on the causes that fuel such outrageous militant extremism and terrorism.
The so-called "range of discourse" then, is quite narrow, but within it, coverage is quite detailed. The reporting of some aspects is indeed very moving and very good. There is though, appropriate criticism of some extremism creeping into some aspects of the mainstream media as well, in certain circumstances. Importantly, however, our range of perspectives is also affected by the range of discourse. This is especially relevant now, as citizens seek answers on how and why such a terrible atrocity could be committed. (For more on the coverage of the media, with analysis and critique of the mainstream media itself, see the mediachannel.org web site, which provides many articles. Also, see this web site's section on the media.)
Will violence lead to more violence?
With all the vivid imagery, we can only now begin to imagine how other people and societies around the world have suffered in other situations. With often worse results, albeit not so sudden and shocking, entire cities/regions have been leveled and/or enormous amount of life has been lost in places like Kosovo, Iraq, Democratic Republic of Congo, East Timor, Hiroshima/Nagasaki, all over Europe during the World Wars, and too many other places to be able to list here.
With the US-led bombing campaign on Afghanistan now, there has always been more and more concern about civilians being caught in the middle. Indeed, by early December 2001, some 3,500 Afghan civilians were believed to have been killed by U.S. bombing. Furthermore, many aid agencies have criticized the food drops for not delivering much actual aid and being a token gesture, rather than an effective one.
Perhaps one of the biggest fears, which were voiced before the retaliation started is that retaliated violence could result in more retaliated violence and we risk tit-for-tat violence that looks hard to get out of. In all this, civilians on all sides will always be affected. We only need remind ourselves of that shuddering speach by Osama Bin Laden on his threats of retaliation against civilians and of various "hawkish" politicians in the West asking for the equivalent of no mercy. Martin Luther King is worth quoting:
The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it... Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate.... Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. -- Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Yet, how does one get out of this vicious circle? Of course it is not easy, and even a lot of the "peace movement" struggle on this answer, but perhaps if more voice was given in the media to these broader views, then alternative thoughts could be considered. True, more on peace-related alternatives are discussed in TV forums and debates, but when it comes to the actual reporting and one-on-one discussion and analysis, the context is limited to the current actions and the options and discussions are within those confines, mostly. On the foreign policy front, even recent history of the last 50 years or so has been questionable by both Western leaders and Middle Eastern leaders.
|07/21/02 at 04:17:56|
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