9/11’s Shadow

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9-11 landing gear

The photo above is of part of the landing gear of one of the two planes that hit the Twin Towers in 2001. It was discovered by a surveyor in downtown Manhattan while they were working on one of the buildings it was sitting between. It’s just another piece of history that April has thrown up to remind us we still live in the shadow of that day.

This month we’ve seen the escalation of the issues in Syria, arrests made here and abroad in connection with thwarted terrorist attempts and of course the tragic events in Boston. The last twelve years have seen the problems sewn in that day follow us around ever since. So much so that our culture has absorbed it and children that weren’t alive or have no real memory of the events that day have grown up with certain preconceptions about the world and people of different races.

In the twelve years since 9/11 there have been twelve terrorist attacks out with Iraq & Afghanistan attributed to Al Qaeda or Islamic Fundamental Extremists as part of the War on Terror (From Wikipedia):

  • 2002 Bali bombings in Indonesia
  • 2003 Casablanca bombings and 2007 Casablanca bombings in Morocco
  • 2003 Istanbul bombings in Turkey
  • 2004 Madrid train bombings in Spain
  • 7 July 2005 London bombings
  • 2007 Glasgow International Airport attack
  • 11 April 2007 Algiers bombings in Algeria
  • 2009 Fort Hood shooting in the United States
  • 2011 Cirebon bombing in Indonesia
  • 2011 Marrakech bombing in Morocco
  • 2012 U.S. Consulate attack in Benghazi in Libya
  • 2013 Boston Marathon bombings in the United States

Are we safer today than we were the day before 9/11? Politicians would say yes, but more often that not it’s the perception rather than the reality that informs us. Depending on which figures you look at some claim that over one million people have died between the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and if you take the “Arab Spring” into consideration that figure is continuing to rise all the time with events in Syria.

I think that we will be facing continued “wars” in whichever form they take for the foreseeable future – has there ever been a point in our existence we weren’t fighting over something? The problem is with this fight is it can never be “won” in a traditional sense. Look at the current issues in Egypt where we celebrated the people rising up to now face a different person in charge who still runs the country under military laws and has passed constitutions that still discriminate against some in the population. We in the west have to realise that other countries don’t all want to be like us with our version of democracy, ethics and morals. The main thing for me that 9/11 did was polarize opinion and show the issues that had been silently hiding beneath the surface.

We are not safer because of the actions we have taken in the past. The failure to sit down with Israel and Palestine to try to come to an agreement without any prejudice or favour to either party still remains the key to the middle east. Working with Muslim communities to ensure close bonds are made so understanding and education of each other happens to open up a dialogue and trust between us will stop the wrong and hysterical views on the religion. Sorting the damage done in Iraq and Afghanistan to give those countries their independence back with a strong infrastructure to thrive and develop and to stand up to those within its borders that wish to do others harm. We need to engage more with African nations to prevent this issue from spreading any further – already there are major political and religious issues in some countries and Al Qaeda have already set up camp in several African states.

While we must always remember 3000 people died that day in New York, the aftermath has been more bloody and damaging to the world than anything that happened that day. The reaction of the US, UK and their allies led to wars that couldn’t be justified and we have spent money that could have been used to build bridges rather than blow them up. Even those who opposed the wars have been dragged into it one way or another.

But we can’t live in fear. We cannot allow all these issues stop us from achieving humanitarian goals, helping those who need help around the world, welcoming those who need a safe place to live to our shores. If we live in fear then the terrorists have won and so have our politicians in using that same fear to force through legislation that stops us as law-abiding citizens living a free and fruitful life.

We’re not safer, but we are all much more aware of the issues involved and as I always advocate knowledge help us to understand the problems. While it might not solve them, the more people who have an understanding of the actual issues and not the perceived ones the more chance we have of rebuilding relations between opposite sides and reducing the dangers.

There will always be terrorism, what we cannot do is give them a reason to do it.

JD

 

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