By Farooq Sulehria
Despite official mournings and condolences issued by Muslim rulers,
the mass mood was largely that of jubilation, at worst, or that
of indifference, at best in the wake of S11. Six days after the
September 11 attack, Labour Party Pakistan's secretary Farooq
Tariq circulated a report regarding reaction to S11 in Pakistan.
Few excerpts below will sum up the mood:
I am writing this mail from Toba Tek Singh, my home town, 300
kilometers away from Lahore, situated in the central Punjab. It
is mainly a peasant dominated area. The town is in the grip of
religious fundamentalists. I was in Lahore for four days after
the Tuesday terrorist attack on American cities. At Lahore, the
mood among many workers and ordinary citizens were of joy and
happiness that the Americans have been taught the lesson at last.
But there was also a sympathy for those killed in the terrorist
attack. It was not a mood of fanaticism of all out support for
the religious fundamentalist. But at Toba Tek Singh, the mood
was that of fanaticism. As I arrived here after six hours of driving
from Lahore to see my ageing father, I was bombarded with questions
by him. A trader all his life, now fighting with the banks to
give back the loans he has once taken in the hope that the agriculture
income will be better but disappointed all the time. All his initiatives
to enhance his ever decreasing income went nowhere. All his life,
he remained loyal to Muslim League, a conservative bourgeoisie
He told me that the whole town is happy about the incidents.
I spoke to Mamma ( his real name is Mohammed Sadiq but he is
know as mumma).He is a peasant working at the land on monthly
wages. Mumma told me that some one at last has taught a lesson
to the most powerful nations on the earth. How this could happen?
I asked him, He told me that it is the work of God.
Six days after the Tuesday attacks on American cities, it seems
tha generally many are happy and feel the pride that at last some
one has done the job,they should be doing. One villager told me
that the incident of America is like this that if a peasant gets
up in a village and fight against the feudal lord with no weapons.No
one in the village ever thought of fighting against the feudalbefore.Then
this peasant win the fight, the whole village peasants will be
Thus concluded Farooq: It is very clear we the progressive forces
are among very few who have to condemn terrorism, individual or
state level. This mood was not bound to Pakistan or Muslim world,
Latin Americans in many countries publicly celebrated the attacks.
And not to forget Serbia.
But Madrid bombings (3/11) did not arouse any such 'excitement'.
There was either indifference ( then what we get killed everyday
in Palestine, Chechnya, Iraq) or condemnation. Also, a big presence
of immigrants in Spain, with Muslim/Arab background, in fact raised
alarm for their relatives back home. Meantime, the S11 experiences
had taught a new lesson: Washington in fact made use of S11.
Growing travel restrictions, deportation of Muslims, Arabs from
the USA and an increased witch hunt of Arabs in USA, despite fomenting
more anti-Americanism, drove home the message that terrorism does
not work in 'our' favour.
The London bombing (7/7) has only further reinforced the reaction
to Madrid bombings. First of all, London, with its 10 percent
Muslim population, houses big chunk of Muslim Diaspora settled
across Europe. An immediate reaction to London bombing, noted
by BBC Urdu Service, was a barrage of telephone calls.
The fear of backlash in London was so big that the British government
had appealed the Muslim community to stay home. This was another
lesson for Muslims that individual acts of terrorism, no matter
how 'effective', bring backlash for ordinary people.
The middle classes in Muslim world, having economic dependence
on West, have felt an extra pinch. An increased immigration control
is bad for their carriers, business, and education for children
and so on.
Of course, then-what-we-get-killed-everyday mood persists but
has gone in background. Either, there is general condemnation
or concern for consequences.
This changed consciousness will isolate the fundamentalists in
Muslim world. The impact on Muslim Diaspora in Europe however
will be different. Increasing racism and new anti-terrorism laws
would further isolate them and they would be further pushed to
Sweden it seems is heading the same course when Prime Minsiter
Göran Persson hints at new anti-terrorism laws. A lesson
European masters are not learning is: one needs policies not laws
to fight back terrorism.