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World Opinion Roundup by Jefferson Morley

Still Divided Three Years Later

Sept. 11 Anniversary Fails to Unite World in U.S. 'War on Terror'

By Jefferson Morley
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 14, 2004; 9:55 AM

The third anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington was a dismal and discouraging moment in the eyes of many pundits outside the United States.

"The world is not safer that it was three years ago," declared El Pais (subscription required), one of the leading newspapers of Spain. The Beslan school massacre in Chechnya, a car bombing in Jakarta, and the spread of fighting in Iraq only deepened the gloom. It was, said the editors of the Sydney Morning Herald, "a dreadful anniversary."

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Such uneasiness was evident in the countries whose fate is most entwined with the Sept. 11 attacks.

In Afghanistan, the anniversary was noted with mixed emotions, according to the Daily Times of Pakistan. Some people were "glad of the US-led intervention that toppled the Taliban." Others remain "deeply suspicious of Washington's intentions." The Afghan Recovery Report found the same ambivalence.

In Saudi Arabia, expressions of guilt over the fact that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi competed with hostile declarations toward U.S. policy in the Middle East.

The Saudi-based Arab News and the London Arabic daily Asharq Al-Awsat (in Arabic) collaborated on a special report for the anniversary, including a self-critical look at Islam from a leading Arab journalist.

"It is a certain fact that not all Muslims are terrorists, but it is equally certain, and exceptionally painful, that almost all terrorists are Muslims," wrote Abdel Rahman al-Rashed, general manager of the Al-Arabiya news channel.

From the hostage-takers of Beslan and Iraq to the bombers of Riyadh [in May 2003] and Khobar [in 1996] to the downing of two airliners in Russia, all the perpetrators were Muslims.

"What a pathetic record," he wrote. "What an abominable 'achievement.' Does all this tell us anything about ourselves, our societies and our culture?"

His answer: "We cannot clear our names unless we own up to the shameful fact that terrorism has become an Islamic enterprise; an almost exclusive monopoly, implemented by Muslim men and women."

But Omani journalist Essa bin Mohammed Al Zedjali, also writing for the Arab News said the U.S. response to 9-11 is worse than the original crime.

"What happened on that day has been manipulated by the US administration to frame a policy, which is being implemented under the banner 'war on terrorism,'" he wrote.

"Under the new policy, the US assumed the right to fight what it called terrorism wherever and whenever it is, and unleashed its military might within and outside its borders."

In Iraq, columnist Hameed Abdullah suggested the U.S.-led ouster of Saddam Hussein was more of a benefit to the world at large than it was to his own countrymen.

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