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BY M.M. Afrah,
Toronto (Canada)

I am frustrated with the way terrorism is described by the Western media and politicians with words like Muslim terrorists or Muslim fundamentalists and by people who know very little or nothing about the teaching of Islam. By the way I am a Humanist who do not condone terrorism from any quarter. I strongly believe that life is sacrosanct and should not be taken away from innocent people. As a matter of fact I have trouble sleeping at night whenever I recollect the two commercial airliners slamming the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York on September 11.

I am also puzzled about how the entire search for world terrorists has been going. The thing that gets to me the most is that the Western media has been focusing on "Muslim terrorists" for quite sometimes. Yes, those who committed the heinous crime against the United States on September 11 were Arabs from the Middle East (none of them was a Somali national). And by the way, not all Arabs are Muslims. And yes, the alleged Osama bin Laden's videotape was given wider publicity in the West and the rest of the world. But many people are skeptic about its authencity, saying, and here I quote Professor Henri Towil, a Lebanese Christian at Beirut University who said: "How can someone who committed a barbaric acts allows himself to be video taped, boosting victory with a smile on his face? Why did someone deny us to listen to his own voice, instead of English translation that's difficult to decipher? Besides, the Taliban and Al-Qaeda had forbidden TVs, Video recordings, radio transistors, tape recorders, computers and all kinds of modern gadgets as un-Islamic, that's their version of Islam," he said.

World terrorism has been a major issue ever since the dawn of history. But it took thousands of years to classify it as a war. But what about those innocent people who live in countries alleged to have harboured and supported terrorists? Not everyone in those countries is responsible for the barbaric attacks on the US. It should be a war against evil and not against ethnics and religion.

And yes. Terrorists in other countries should be focused as well. I recall the words of a young Somali-Canadian who said if America's global war against terrorism is to be believed it should include the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in Northern Ireland, Somalia's homegrown Mooryaan and the ETA Basque separatists in Spain who maim innocent civilians. Now the thorny question of who is a terrorist and who is not is still hanging in the air. Reuters, the worldwide news agency based in London recently sent an advisory note to its correspondents around the world, saying that "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter."

If the Ku Klux Klan and the American militia in the US with their burning cross planted in front of the dwellings of law-abiding African-Americans are not classified as terrorists by the powers that be, I do not have an answer to that question. Another question is; what leads terrorists to commit suicide acts against an established entity? That question too still hangs in the air. Some say grievances and injustice. But that is not an excuse to commit World War Two Japanese-style kami kazi. The Quranic Scriptures forbids suicide.

Has anybody ever thought that a Muslim or an Arab did not commit the Holocaust in nazi Germany? Has anybody also thought that Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber was not a Muslim but a white Christian American citizen, although the media had prematurely jumped the gun by accusing Muslim terrorists from the Middle East for committing that tragedy in Oklahoma City? They had shamefully dismembered or retracted that accusation. But the damage has already been done.

How about back in 1998 when a Jewish-American settler opened fire on Muslim worshippers inside the Ibrahim (Abraham) Mosque? What about back in 1998 when an Israeli citizen in Tel Aviv assassinated Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli Prime Minister? Who destroyed the Ayodia Mosque in India? Those responsible were described as Hindu Fundamentalists and mentally deranged people, rather than terrorists.

Dwelling on Indian history, the man who assassinated the revered Mahatma Gandhi was never described as Hindu terrorist. Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated because of his straightforward answer to a question put to him about his faith. He said, "I am a Hindu, but I am also a Muslim, a Christian and a Jew". He strongly believed in religious co-existence and to worship the same God in harmony. Likewise, non-Muslims assassinated Indian Prime Minister, Mrs. Indhira Gandhi and her son Sanjay Gandhi who was also a Prime Minister.

The list of non-Muslim terrorists and assassins goes on and on and it leaves a bad taste in my soul to think that Muslims are being victimized for the crime of few others.

For example, a country like Somalia is now being targeted for giving shelters to members of "fleeing" Al-Qaeda network. International journalists who visited the country during the last ten years or so, maintain that the Somali people have been living in a yo yo of agony. But a humiliated US intelligence agencies on September 11 have decided to make Somalia an escape goat and that it should be the next target for B52s and "Daisy Cutters".

Common sense precaution and reliable information (not a tip-off by people with vested interests) are needed to root out international terrorists who sought shelters in war-torn, chaos-ridden countries like Somalia. Officials of the shaky government in Mogadishu repeatedly said they needed a helping hand to combat terrorism at home and abroad. But the vexing question is are there Al-Qaeda training bases in Somalia? I do not know. On to you, Mr. Bush.

The blood of one person will always haunt one.

M.M. Afrah 2001

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