Elimination of Terrorism or Beginning of New Crusades.
|By Prof. Khurshid Ahmad.
The 11th of September 2001 has become a black, torturous and unforgettable day in the history of America. It is being said that the tragedy on this day shook to the roots not only America but
the entire Weste
|The 110-storey World Trade Center that was constructed 23 years ago with the cost of $ 1 billion over an area of 16 acres, that has given to New York its new identity, where 50,000 eople worked,
and whose annual rent exceeded $ 3 billion, had become a symbol of financial and economic power of America and a sign of grandeur of global capitalism but also its economic capital. Similarly,
Pentagon was like a walled-city, where 24,000 people worked and which was the symbol of American global military might. These two buildings were reduced to rubbles in the span of one hour after being hit by three hijacked American airplanes. While the destruction of these two buildings and death of thousands of people were horrendous enough, it lashed at today's sole super-power whose defense budget accounts for 36 percent of the total defense expenses of the entire world and on its reputation and standing in such a way that done away with the myth of America's nvincibility. The defense system and governance of America came to a complete standstill for quite some time, and the global power that is now roaring with all force actually remained without any head of state for 24 hours. President, Vice President, Speaker of the Congress were running for safety
wherever it could be found - in the air or in the under-ground digs. This has now precedence in the history of this century. The ordeals that the American leadership passed through after the attacks and what was evident from its appearance and statements can be described as shock, umiliation, anger, wrath and fury, retaliation and revenge and throes of madness.
It is now about three weeks since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Yet, America and the Western world is still in the state of confusion and perturbation. While there is uncertainty all over, signs of "doing something" are ringing alarm bells. As to realize the proverb 'to make the innocent suffer for the sin of the guilty', Arabs and Muslims are being targeted, Osama bin Ladin has become the object for wrath and fury and preparations are continuing for attack on Afghanistan. The elephant is about to blow the gnat, but this is a perverse attempt to divert attention from real factors and causes of its failures, hate and incredibility.
It is disturbing that review and analysis of the situation in the light of the principles of truth and justice is almost extinct (apart from some feeble voices). Those who have power and who are entrusted with global leadership, are behaving like wounded beast with their avowals to eliminate anyone whom they suspect. They are all out to do that. President Bush says that it is a declaration of war, beyond being a terrorist act, but fails to tell who is the enemy in this war, which state or force is the opponent, and where this war is going to take place. In the Pearl Harbor bombing, the invader and its location both were known. Today, neither the perpetrators of the terrorist acts are known nor is it clear who supported the suicide attackers and where they are now. To make the situation even worse, this is being called 'war on civilization' and the world is thus being divided into two to suggest that the West constitutes the civilized world while others are savages. It is being said that not only the terrorists will be eliminated but
the states that provide shelter to them will also meet the same fate.
It has been forgotten that America itself provided shelter to the terrorists of IRA and America was not just backing numerous armed groups that carried out terrorism in countries like Cuba and
dozens in Latin America besides Iraq, Libya, and Iran etc., but the CIA and certain other lobbies have quite overtly been training and arming them. Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense ecretary Rumsfeld have quite unequivocally said, "one of the goals is ending states that sponsor terrorism". An army of intellectuals, writers, and media people is advocating for revenge and state oppression. Former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagle Burger says: There is only one way to begin to deal with people like this, and that is you have to kill some of them even if they are not immediately directly involved in this thing.
A guru of American foreign policy, and guilty of genocide of tens of thousands in Vietnam, Cambodia, Chili and other countries, Henry Kissinger says that while nobody knows whether Bin Ladin is involved in these acts or not, but immediate punitive action is necessary even though it is not enough. Action against the whole network and against the countries where traces of this network are to be found is the real goal.
But then the Government should be charged with a systematic response that, one hopes, will end the way the attack on Pearl harbor ended - with the destruction of the system that is responsible for it. (The Washington Post, Sept. 12). His advice for America is to go alone if other countries do not cooperate, it should not wait for any consensus. This is what an intellectual and responsible person has to say, while the general trend is reflecting from the following three examples.Rich Lowry writes in the Washington Post:
If we flatten part of Damascus or Tehran or whatever it takes, that is part of the solution. (Sept.13)
Steve Durleevy writes in the New York Post:The response to this unimaginable 21st century Pearl Harbor should be as simple as it is swift - kill the bustards. A gunshot between the eyes, blow them to smithereens, poison them if you have to. As to cities or countries that host these worms, bomb them with basketball combs. (Sept. 12)
In the New York Daily News, Ann Comlter has gone to the extent of saying: This is no time to be precarious about locating the exact individuals directly involved in this particular terrorist
attack. We should invade these countries, kill their leaders. We were not punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities, we killed civilians. That is war. And this is war. (Sept. 12)
This is how an extreme atmosphere is being created and the one that has Arabs and Muslims as its targets. Using the term of 'crusade', President Bush has served the purpose of adding fuel to fire. Islam is being presented as a religion that encourages terrorism, and Muslims as terrorist group. This is the consequence of this approach and policy that such incidents, which run into hundreds, have taken place in America and Britain in these days where mosques, schools, Islamic centers, Muslim homes, and even passersby Muslim women have become the targets of abuse. Some 300 revengeful acts have been registered in America alone, and it is continuing. Irony is that notonly Muslims but also Sikhs are being maltreated and killed just for their appearance. Is this the civilization and higher system of life that is said to be threatened by terrorism!
The Stand of Islamic MovementsWhatever might be the attitude of America and the West and language they might be using to express their emotions, our attitude as Muslims and the Ummah should be based on truth, justice and moderation. Instead of retaliating with blow for blow, we should adopt the language of logic and adhere to the truth for this is what Qur'an commands: And when you judge between the people, you judge with justice. (al-Nisa 4:58) O Believers! Be steadfast in righteousness and just in giving witnesses for the sake of Allah; the enmity of any people shouldnot so provoke you as to turn you away from justice. Do justice for it is akin to piety. (al-Maida 5:8) Protection of human life and respect for it are among the basic teachings of Islam, and there is no distinction between Muslim and non-Muslim, man and woman, friend and foe. The value of life is equal for all and to take one's life without justification is in violation of the commands of Allah and His Prophet. Allah says 'We made Adam and his progeny respectable and dignified', not just Muslims or the People of Scriptures. Also: Do not kill any soul whose killing has been forbidden by Allah, except by right. (al-Asra 17:33) He who killed any person, unless it be a person guilty of man-slaughter, or of spreading chaos in the land, should be looked upon as though he had slain all mankind, and he who saved one life should be regarded as though he had saved the lives of all mankind. (al-Maida 5:32)
How can a religion that imparts such teachings tolerate the killing of innocent people in an act of terrorism? This is why Muslims not only in America and Europe but from all over the world, their movements and governments of almost all Muslim countries have felt shock over the death of thousands of people in the terrorist acts of Sept. 11. They have felt it deeply in the cores of their hearts and have condemned it without any reservation and have called for bringing the perpetrators to the book. To us, this is not an American loss, but of the entire humanity; the sorrow is not restricted to America, it is shared by the entire humanity. The fact that has further identified this loss and sorrow with us is that 1,000 of the total 5,000 people that were killed in the World Trade Center, who hailed from 63 countries and who included followers of all religions, were Muslims. This means that out of every five, one was Muslim!
More than 100 leaders of Islamic movements, scholars and thinkers of the Muslim world first condemned this 'killing without right' in their communiquÃ© on Sept. 12 and then enunciated Islamic view and stand of Muslims through another statement on Sept. 18. While they condemned 'killing without right', they also warned against revenge and retaliatory 'killing without right' and with distinct wisdom and boldness they upheld the principles of justice and rule of law.
This statement reflects the sentiments of the entire Muslim Ummah: We have unequivocally condemned the dastardly terrorist attack on establishments in New York and Washington, whose victims belong to some forty countries and major religions of the world.
Islam upholds sanctity of human life as the Qur'an declares that killing one innocent human being is like killing the entire human race. The tragedy of the Sept. 11 is a crime against humanity
and the Muslims all over the world mourn all victims of this aggression as a common loss of America and the whole world. We also affirm that victims of terrorism in all parts of the
world deserve equal sympathy and concern and all those who stand for the equality of human kind must condemn and fight terrorism in all parts of the world.
We also uphold and affirm the principle that whoever is responsible for acts of terrorism against human beings; individual, group or government, must be brought to book and punished for that without let or discrimination.
But any attempt to arbitrarily punish people in the name of 'war against terrorism' without establishing through an impartial process the guilt of the suspected would also constitute an act
of terrorism and cannot be allowed or condoned. Independent proof of guilt is a minimum demand of principles and justice and natural and international law. We, therefore, appeal to all Governments of the world, particularly, the US Government not to resort to any arbitrary or unilateral use of force only on the basis of suspicion nor try to become the accuser, the prosecutor, the judge, and the executor rolled into one. We also besiege the Secretary General of the UN and the leaders of all Arab, Muslim and European countries to play their role in saving the world from wanton bloodshed and escalation of violence leading to greater conflicts and confrontations between the states and the people of the world. Terrorism can be fought only by resort to means that are just, judicious and conducive to peace and tranquility in the world.
We must not be a party to or even passive spectators to steps are smack of vendetta, retaliation, arrogance and international brinkmanship. Let all people stand for justice and make a concerted effort to fight terrorism by punishing its perpetrators through due process of law and also strive for the elimination of all the injustices, exploitations and hegemonistic policies that lie at the root of many a terrorism in the world. (Sept. 18)
This is the principled and realistic stand of the Muslim Ummah. It is the duty of all Muslim governments and organizations to be firm on this stand at this critical juncture with wisdom, sincerity, and courage, and not to surrender before force, coercion, and pressure. They should neither be overwhelmed by the invasion of propaganda, nor should adopt such a response that is removed from truth and righteousness.