Monday, December 21, 2009

Fort hood and the media

By Zeki Amedi

After the 9/11 attacks, the Islamic and Arab nationalists attacked the American media, accusing them of racism because they focused on the nationality of the 9/11 attackers. The nationalists claimed that there was no proper evidence that Arabs and Muslims were behind the attacks. Furthermore, Al-Jazeera was quick to spread a fabricated story that Jewish employees skipped work at the World Trade Center on September 11. The network later apologized for reporting this false story, but the apology was given an insignificant amount of coverage in comparison to the report itself.

The fact is that Bin Laden has revealed all the details of the 9/11 plan and has admitted to being responsible for the attacks on Washington and New York and similar attacks in Europe. Moreover, he refers to his organization as "the international front to fight Jews and Christians". Despite these facts, the Arab-Islamic nationalist media continues to deny Al-Qaeda’s involvement, even in the face of solid contradictory evidence. For instance, Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an influential Egyptian Islamic scholar, claims that Al-Qaeda is only assuming responsibility as a public relations ploy. In addition, Dr. Ahmed Al Kubeisi, Iraq's top Sunni cleric, stated just a couple of weeks ago that no one believes in the 9/11 “story” anymore.

When the Military Major Nidal Malik Hasan shooting incident unfolded, the Islamic and Arab nationalists immediately accused the U.S. Government and media of racism, claiming they focused only on Hasan’s Arab and Muslim origins. The issue, they believed, was no more than an American shooting other Americans. They stated that the United States had experienced similar incidents in its history by religions other than Islam. Therefore, why was terrorism only attributed to Arabs and Muslims?

The truth is that no one in the United States dares to stereotype Muslims as terrorists. However, if these deadly terror attacks continue, Americans may begin to do so. Of course, Americans have experienced terrorist activities from other racial and religious groups throughout history. However, the difference is that those terrorists are not engaging in jihad, performing terrible deeds blessed by religious clerks and many political parties.

In the Arab world, the media referred to the suicide-murderers as martyrs. In contrast, most major Muslim clerics condemn terrorism, partly because they do not want to face the wrath of the Arab public. Many important and influential Arabs will first express their disapproval of American policy in the Middle East, then condemn Islamic terrorism. Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal is a most notable example, writing a $10 million check after 9/11 for disaster relief, then suggesting that the US “re-examine its policies in the Middle East and adopt a more balanced stance toward the Palestinian cause.”

The U.S. Media is trying hard to cover up the incidents of terrorism by American Muslims. For example, in March of 2006, Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar, an Iranian-born American citizen, confessed to intentionally hitting people with a sports utility vehicle on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to "avenge the deaths of Muslims worldwide" and to "punish" the United States government. While no one was killed in the attack, nine people were injured. However, the media gave little attention to the incident compared to the Fort Hood incident. The reason probably has to do with the small number of victims in the Chapel Hill incident, and the interesting, new prospect that presented itself in the Nidal case. Nidal was born in United States and had an American education, but that didn’t stop his involvement in the sort of religious extremism that prevails in the Arab region of the world, betraying and killing his fellow Americans.

I do not think that any other society respects Democracy and people’s rights in the way America does. I do not think the other people in the world would deal with terrorist activities with the same spirit of civility that Americans showed. Those who accuse the US government of discrimination against Muslims after Sept. 11 because the US illegally delayed citizenship for Muslim-Americans simultaneously defend the Arab regimes that do not grant citizenship to their own original inhabitants because of race. Those same Arabs who believe that the military psychiatrist Major Nidal Malik Hasan should have had a right to break up his contract so he could stay away from the war in Iraq and Afghanistan simultaneously defend the Arab regimes who would outright execute anyone unwilling to fight in their wars.

To accuse the democratic world of racism and a lack of respect for minority rights is ridiculous, but to accuse the democratic world of naiveté and lack of understanding of what is happening in the Muslim world is reasonable. Americans know almost nothing about Arab and Islamic countries beyond what is in the movies. They find it difficult to distinguish between Islam as a religion and modern religious political extremist ideology. The United States and Western Europe countries have opened the door of political asylum to all seekers, including the most wanted terrorists in their original countries. Those terrorists abuse the Freedom of Speech, spreading the culture of hatred. They afflict the Western governments and Muslim community alike. Imams preach jihad and extremism and call for support to terrorist groups fighting the US army. They do not preach solely in Gaza or Waziristan. The fact of the matter is that they preach in US mosques, too. Because of the absence of oversight and accountability, many Imams hurt the reputation of Muslims every day and raise more questions about our Muslim community and probably influence our kids as well.