In the morning of 11 September 2001, 19 Muslim men hijacked four commercial jet airliners at different airports of the United States to launch the deadliest attack on the country since the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbour 60 years ago. The mayhem that these men wreaked that day has changed the course of history forever. In New York alone 2, 602 people died, when the terrorists took control of two planes and rammed them into the twin towers of the World Trade Centre that used to stand tall in the city's plushy landscape. The third plane crashed into the Pentagon building in Virginia; and the crew and passengers of the fourth plane retook control from the terrorists before it nose-dived into a field in Shanksville, in a rural county of Pennsylvania. Apart from the 19 hijackers, 2, 973 died in the attacks, implications of which have left a deep wound, an unhealable one to speak of, in the "American Psyche".
It is usually said about the attack on Pearl Harbour that the Japanese had awakened a sleeping giant; 9-11 has been an invitation to war, and the United States has so far paid heed to it well, if that is the phrase one must resort to. These have so far led to two wars, a dangerous divide in an already volatile Middle East, talks of a clash of civilisations have gathered momentum; and Muslims, particularly who live in the West and hence more well-off than their Eastern counterparts, all on a sudden, have found themselves torn between their loyalties to a rich European culture and their own age-old Islamic origin. Most, who provide menial labour and otherwise would have remained unnoticed, have become the centre of an increasing debate. Their presence is one of the prime reasons behind an ever-increasing sense of xenophobia and fascism; and Europe, which has always prided itself on its secular democratic values, since the 9-11, has been fighting a losing battle to draw a line between liberty and surveillance, religious freedom and bigotry.
Countries and regions with a Muslim majority are gradually slipping into chaos. Like the many-headed monster in Greek mythology, Islamic Fascism has grown and gained momentum; be it in the South Asian Sub Continent or the Far East or the former republics of the Soviet Union, religion-based politics, precisely the one that preaches hatred towards the US, is progressively gaining more followers. The Middle East, on the other hand, is a different ball game altogether: After the Arab defeat to the nascent Jewish state of Israel in 1948, the occupations of West Bank and Gaza have come into the spotlight, coupled with that are Israel's nuclear armament, and, what many in the Arab streets think the US's one-sided support of the Jewish state. When the Soviet Empire was still alive and menacing, the Arabs had a choice, however bad it was-- a sombre and timid polarisation had taken place in the region: Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, and a part of Yemen looked up to Moscow for help; the rest, especially the indolent monarchs sought the US's -- the free world's -- helping hand, visibly to fend off the march of the Red Flag towards the holy land.
And a threat there was, a real one, not something the bone-idle Kings could have made up; Afghanistan fell for the Russians. The US and its allies used all it had at their disposal to repel the Marxists from the South Asian Sub Continent. Mujahidins, armed with the rocket-propelled grenades supplied by the Free World even made it to the front cover of the newsmagazines of the Free World. After the humiliating defeat of the Red Army on the hot mountainous terrains of the country and the subsequent demise of the Soviet Union, these Mujahidins -- enjoying a semi-cult status now, courtesy of Rambo III, a sequel of a Hollywood flick, have quickly turned their newly liberated country to start exporting militant Islam. So, the Middle East, eagerly awaiting the advent of a radical ideology that they will be able to identify with, has soon found one; it is no surprise, then, that sweets of different colours and shapes would be in circulation in different Palestinian camps after those beastly attacks on innocent men, women and children in the US.
The events of 9-11, in fact, has not polarised not only Muslims, but it has made a far-flung impact on the Western ways of life too. All the major religions have been radicalised -- with alarm the world has seen a rise of militant Hinduism in India, a new lease of life for Christianity in HIV AIDS-stricken Africa and America. Fanaticism itself is given a new shape in the US, where Evangelists and the so-called Jewish lobby wield increasing power over the Bush Administration. More and more conspiracy theories have taken birth, most in rumour-ridden Muslim streets. Of them one blame the CIA, the US intelligence, another holds the view that Mossad (Ha-Mosad le-Modi'in u-le-Tafkidim Meyuhadim), the Israeli counter intelligence had drugged these innocent Arab youths to make them do something so ghastly and barbaric. These only manifest the miseries and wretchedness that some in the Muslim world are flooded with.
However much the World's Media try to abdicate it, the 9-11 also coincides with the arrival of global capitalism, which is witnessing the long arm of the multinationals stretch a bit further into the remoter and chaster territories of the Middle East and South Asia. So much so for 19 young men, some even in their late teens, who barely had any idea of what they were up to when they walked into the terminus buildings of the airports of the World's lone superpower.
(R) thedailystar.net 2006