On the Tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks the world mourned the Americans who lost their lives but there was little mention of the millions who have suffered and died as a result of American’s foreign policy.
This month saw the 10th anniversary of one of the most shocking and saddening events of recent times. On September 11th 2001 the 1,350 feet Twin Towers of the World Trade centre where wiped from the New York skyline. The Iconic Towers burned to the ground after two hijacked planes smashed into them, an- other hijacked plane crashed into the pentagon (U.S defence department headquarters) and a fourth plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania causing a total of 2,996 deaths.
Since then a number of memorial services have been held and memorial buildings have been erected in tribute to the American’s who lost their lives on that day. Earlier this month services were held in New York and Britain while The Empty Sky memorial was unveiled in the city of New Jersey earlier this month. This memorial features the names of each of the 746 victims who lived in New Jersey etched in stainless steel in 4-inch-high letters.
However there has been little if any recognition of those who suffered at the hands of America’s “War on terror” which was launched in response to 9/11.
Al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden were quickly accused of orchestrating the attacks and the American Gov- ernment demanded that the Taliban (leaders of Afghanistan at the time) hand him over.
In response the Taliban offered to try Bin Laden in an Afghan court, or have him extradited to a third country so long as the United States provided evidence of his guilt. The US refused as they were unable to prove that Bin Laden was responsible.
Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeff, the Afghan ambassador to Pakistan made it clear at the time that his country were keen to avoid war with America,
“War is nothing but pain and death, blood does not wash blood, negotiations are a good path and we can discuss all issues including Osama.”
Nonetheless the American Government was not interested in negotiations and on October 11th 2001, be- gan bombing Afghanistan. 40,000 Afghan civilians are estimated to have died as a result of the war.
Although their mission was to capture Osama Bin Laden and destroy the Taliban, the relentless bombings caused thousands of Afghans civilians their lives as missiles and bombs missed their military bases and truck residential areas. During the initial invasion a 2,000lb bomb missed its military target and innocent civilians were murdered, this incident was admitted by the Pentagon themselves.
The War in Iraq was sparked by false claims that the country possessed “weapons of mass destruc- tion”. The ORB (Opinion Research Business) organisation reported that over 1 million Iraqi’s had been killed during the conflict between 2003 and 2007 and these
figures are constantly rising as the war rages on.
The propaganda against “Muslim terrorists” follow- ing 9/11 caused the stigmatisation of Muslims and Middle Eastern people across the world. This negative perception has led to discrimination, assault and in many cases murder.
The FBI were exposed earlier this month for teaching agents that Muslims were terrorists as a series of official training materials were leaked to the press. One transcript claimed that “mainstream” Muslims were likely to be terrorist sympathizers, that the prophet Muhammad was a “cult leader,” and that the more “de- vout” a Muslim is, the more likely he is to be “violent”.
In the immediate aftermath of the September 11th attacks, hate crimes against people of Middle Eastern Descent in America became five times more frequent and thousands of cases of assault, theft and threaten- ing behaviour toward Muslims have been reported by Arab American Institute in the years since.
One of the most shocking cases occurred in September 2007 when Zohreh Assemi, an Iranian American and nail salon owner was robbed, beaten, and called a “terrorist” in September 2007. The two robbers destroyed her shop, smashed her hand with a hammer and sliced her face with a box cutter before stealing money from the till and telling her to return to her native country.
Ms Assemi had in fact decided to become a US citizenship following the events of 9/11 to show support for the country and claims that the fact they had called her a terrorist was more painful that the assault itself.
In 2005, Kamal Raza Butt from Pakistan was visiting Britain to see friends and family friends. During a stroll to the newsagents he was beaten to death by a gang of youths who accused him of being a member of the Taliban. The following year a mosque in Preston was attacked with bricks and a 20 year old man was stabbed in what police admitted was “ a racially motivated attack”.
In 2010, a study entitled, Are French Muslims Discriminated Against in Their Own Country?, found that
“Muslims sending out resumes in hopes of a job interview had 2.5 times less chance than Christians” with similar credentials “of a positive response to their applications”. In 2009, a French mosque was vandalised and pig feet were hung outside. The biggest mosque in the Canandian capital city Toronto was firebombed and vandalised last year.
In 2009 Egyptian Pharmacist Marwa Ali El-Sherbini was murdered in Germany after providing evidence in her case against Alex Wiens who had made several racist remarks about her being a Muslim.
During the trial Wiens claimed that Muslims were monsters and even asked the judge why they had not been deported after the attack of September 11th in America. As Ms El-Sherbin (who was three months pregnant at the time) left the court with her family, Wiens attacked the family with a kitchen knife killing her and critically injuring her husband who had tried to protect her. To make matters worse Police Officers shot her husband rather than Wiens under the impression that he was the assailant.
Considering the murder and suffering of millions due to America’s response to 9/11, why is it that the Ameri can Government and mainstream media focus solely on the 3000 Americans civilians who were killed? Why is it that every Ameri- can or British Soldier who dies in Afghanistan and Iraq is branded a hero and receives widespread sympathetic media coverage but the massacre of Iraqi and Afghan Civilians is only fleetingly reported?
Every single human life is precious regardless of nationality or religion. So the next time you think about the casualties of 9/11 or soldiers killed in war spare a thought for the innocent civilians who lost their lives as their towns and cities were destroyed. Spare a thought for those who have suffered and continue to suffer due to the negative stereotypes enforced by the American Government and the media.
America may have felt the initial blow but it was Iraq, Afghanistan, Muslims and people of Middle Eastern descent who ultimately suffered the most damaging effects of 9/11.