Dehumanizing Muslims Is TerrorismI admire your newspaper...


April 03, 1993

Dehumanizing Muslims Is Terrorism

I admire your newspaper for the coverage of World Trade Center bombing. It has been fairly well balanced, given the information available at the time, and less sensational compared to other popular media.

Generally, its stories, columns and editorials try to separate the individuals responsible and all other Muslims as a group.

I have some objections, though, to Jonathan Power's column, "Democracy is the Best Antidote to Fundamentalism" (Opinion * Commentary March 12). I agree with him about the theme of the column, but I reject his choice of comments and reference from the history.

He began, "The World Trade Center bomb seems to have inextricably linked the word 'terrorist' to 'fundamentalist.' The Muslim faith, in particular its Arab adherents, are demonized once more. As Martin Luther wrote, 'Mohammed is a kingdom of revenge, wrath and desolution.' Three centuries ago it was at the gates of Vienna. Today it is at the port of New York."

As we do not demonize Christianity on the basis of fanaticism of one nation, Christian Serbs, giving one of the few examples, so we should not demonize the whole faith of a religion, which has almost one billion followers around the world, on the basis of an action of a single individual or group.

I do not think that the reference from Martin Luther was appropriate in the context. First of all, it is not a declaration of war. Secondly, I do not think that Jonathan Power will like to choose a similar kind of reference from the history for some other religious or racial group, even though there are plenty available.

I want to make it clear that I strongly condemn such kind of action (bombing of World Trade Center), and one of the reasons in doing so is my Islamic faith.

Destruction of private property and hurting innocent people for whatever reason have no room in Islam. There are strict rules on the subject in Islamic codes even in an event of war.

We Muslims call Mohammed (peace be upon him) kindness to the world, and one of the reasons is that in his life time, the biggest revolution and victory of Islamic history, conquest of Mecca, occurred.

This was completely bloodless and all enemies of Islam, even the worst of them, were given total amnesty. The word Islam itself means peace.

It is very painful for us Muslims to hear that some individuals and groups engage in such acts of terrorism and claim to be practicing Islam.

It is even more disturbing that actions of such groups are being exploited by some groups and countries. These countries use this as an excuse to deny the human rights of certain individuals and to suppress and torture some groups by labeling them "Muslim fundamentalists," "Islamic terrorists" and "Muslim militants" etc., etc.

By doing so they dehumanize them and then engage in their own campaign of terror. We can see this happening in Israel, Algeria, Turkey and Egypt. This is becoming so popular around the world that Serbs in former Yugoslavia and Indians in Kashmir are also trying unsuccessfully to play the same card.

I hope that the world would be able to see the difference and condemn the state-sponsored terrorism and also support the right to freedom of these nations and human rights of these individuals.

I also hope that all those responsible for the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and other such acts would be brought to justice and punished so that in future no one dare to commit such kind of horror.

Ghazala Afaq


Values Dictate Police Performance

I am writing about the recent grand jury investigation faulting the mayor, state's attorney and police commissioner for their failure in controlling the drug epidemic in Baltimore City.

Employed as a police officer in the city for over 20 years, I have come to accept the fact that public criticism of the police and our tactics is a favorite American pastime. I have also come to accept the fact that our "war" to control the curse of the drug dealer and the attendant violence that he brings to our streets cannot be won without the support of our citizens.

We as police officers have no control over the cultural, social or psychological forces that make up the diverse community which is Baltimore.

The urban condition is complex. To blame the police commissioner for the social ills of our city is ludicrous. This is analogous to the physician who is reprimanded for being unable to save the life of a patient who suffers from a terminal disease.

Then where does the responsibility lie? Look inward, Baltimore, toward your own values and your responsibility for social control.

What are the values that you would impose on and expect from your police officers? After my 20 years of service I have to admit you haven't given me a clue.

Our police district commanders are swamped with complaints about the low-level drug dealers that infest the community. The 911 system is deluged with reports of low-level drug dealers operating unchecked on street corners.

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