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7/7 is not 9/11 for Muslim World

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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 party.

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 very happy.

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 wall.

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.

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