An Inclusive Litany

10/22/01

A Reuters dispatch from London, October 22, 2001:
The United States has put a face on terrorism—and that face is Arab: just the sort of action analysts fear will pit the West against Islam.

They say the new U.S. "most wanted" list is more dramatic than diplomatic and risks inciting racial hatred, for all the West's insistence that it is fighting terrorism and not Islam.

"The irony is that by personalising and demonising you alienate. Despite all the attempts to show that its battle is not against Islam, [U.S. President George W.] Bush is making it all about Islam," said George Joffe, a Middle East expert at Cambridge University.

"All the indicators, the simplifiers—the head dress, the beards, the appearance—all indicate a particular group, associated with a particular culture. All this goes against the attempts by the U.S. administration to de-demonise Islam."

Bush's list, unveiled on Wednesday, smacked of the same kind of "Wild West" imagery as his vow to capture "Dead or Alive" the Saudi-born Osama bin Laden, prime suspect in the September 11 attacks on the U.S. landmarks that killed more than 5,500....

Since so many of those appearing on Wednesday's "most wanted terrorists" posters—which offer a $5 million reward—were Arab in appearance and all had Muslim names, many Arabs and Muslims fear they will now become targets of racial attacks....

Analysts say anti-U.S. sentiment could harden following the release of the posters and the continuing military strikes on Muslim Afghanistan for harbouring bin Laden.

Surely white Christians could make a U.S. most-wanted list?

"Why pick on Arabs? Are there no South Americans, Irish, Serbs, Japanese among the most wanted? This will increase the bitterness people here feel against the West," Hussein Amin, a writer on Islamic affairs and former Egyptian ambassador to Algeria, told Reuters.

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