It has been a decade since the 9/11 attacks. The world was shocked to see how vulnerable America was against such a horrible strike. At first, the enemy was the terrorist organization Al Qaeda headed by Osama Bin Laden. In time the enemy became Islam. It was interesting to see the change in perception.
In 2003 Al Qaeda bombed the HSBC headquarters, the British Embassy and some Jewish Temples inIstanbul. In spite of the strategic places where the bombs were placed, the people who died were mostly Turks, Jewish and Muslim. Bin Laden had no problem attacking a Muslim nation and he was not yet perceived as the symbol of Islam by Christian countries.
How that happened often puzzles me, although I recall reading articles on the subject in the late nineties, long before 9/11 had occurred. Political forecasts at the time were suggesting that the threat of communism is going to be replaced by the threat of Islam. Frankly, it seemed a bit far off at the time. I had grown up in a secular Muslim country. The pieces I read were suggesting that the American public needs an enemy and with the cold war ending, communism could no longer be considered much of a threat, so it was going to be Islam.
Time proved the argument to be true. Fifteen years later we see an American public, with the idea that Islam means terror.
Could that really be the case? Could a religion that has the second largest following in the world be about terrorism?
“Come on who is going to believe that?” is what crossed one’s mind back in 1997.
Hollywood movies from the cold war era always picture the Russian as the bad guys and movies dated after 2001 always portray the Muslim, mostly Arabs as the bad guys.
How is this relevant?
It is no secret that the majority of the public is very much influenced by such movies. Not only in America but in most countries the general public does not have in depth information on history, or cultures of different nations.
The fact that Al Qaeda placed bombs in Istanbul makes them the enemy to Muslims as well. Yet the perception was never so, it was more like Osama calls for Jihad, he does it in the name of Islam so all Muslims shall be in agreement with him.
The world of Islam may not at all be in agreement with Al Qaeda but there is another point that seems to be missed, which often puzzles me. Millions of Muslims had died in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine.
How is that they do not matter?
What kind of mindset justifies attacks when they come from one side and condemns them when from a different side?
This draws my attention back to the Hollywood movies. They create a myth that is fun to buy into. In most of these movies, American values are highlighted in every possible way, where people matter! America is mostly featured as the invincible police of the world, the country that ends disputes and makes things right. The truth however turned out to be a little different. When Housni Mubarek, tried to hold on to his dictatorship, before it was known to the world that the people of Egypt were ready to die, before backing down, President Obama made a statement saying ” Our priority in the region is stability, over democracy.”
The rest of the world interpreted this as “We get on with this dictator, he listens to us, tough luck that the people are not fond of him.”
After a courageous fight of the people, everyone decided to support the public as opposed to the dictator.
How is this relevant?
Well, all these movies make it look like American soldiers are in the Middle-East or Afghanistan, trying to establish democracy for the people. Those who fight back are never perceived as people who defend their country, but surely terrorists.
Arabs live in caves, in most of these movies. I’m sure the writers of those movie scripts have no idea that the Algebra class that they possibly struggled with is named after the Arabian chemist Al-Gebir.
Yes! It is the Arabs who advanced the world in something that is needed in many fields from Aerospace to computing.
The word Checkmate comes from the Arabic Shah-Mat. French borrowed their word from Arabic shah mat “the king is dead”. The Arabic phrase is made up of shah “king”, a word borrowed from Persian (as in the Shah of Iran) plus mat “died” from Mata “to die”.
The oldest known Chess books or parts thereof are in Arabic, written about 850 AD.
Yes! Arabs were writing books on chess, long before the western world ever heard of the game.
Aristotle’s teachings were first written in Arabic and later translated into Greek from the Arabic, scriptures. Guess why? Because the Eastern world had the appreciation to write his work before the rest could recognize his importance.
“Ibn Sīnā, or Avicenna as he is better known, was an outstanding Persian scientist around the beginning of the 11th century; he was the true successor to Aristotle. His writings on medicine and drugs, which were particularly authoritative and remained so until the Renaissance, did much to bring the works of Aristotle back to Europe, where they were translated into Latin from Arabic.” (http://www.britannica.com/facts/5/498724/Avicenna-as-discussed-in-biology)
Ibn Sina recognized and made Aristotle known to the East in 11th century, the Renaissance happened between the 14th and 17th century.
Ibn Sina also wrote medical textbooks in Arabic, which doctors like Maimonides used all over the Abbasid Empire and (once they had been translated into Latin) all over Europe too all through the Middle Ages. Ibn Sina may have been the first person to realize that you could catch diseases like measles or smallpox or tuberculosis from other people.
I could go on with many more examples, but the point that I’ve been trying to establish is that Arabian or Persian scientist and philosophers have advanced the world in vital areas such as medicine, science, philosophy and much more. Portraying them as tribal people living in caves is simply absurd and shows ignorance of the portrayer. I do not mean to blame the world’s chaos on a bunch of movies but no one can deny their influence. The entertainment industry has no obligation to enlighten people. Then again all that misleading might have caused people to have a false sense of security while trapped in those buildings during 9/11 and kept them from trying to find a way out when they had the chance.
Al-Qaida’s attack on innocent civilians has been condemned by the world, but as mentioned earlier in the article they had attacked Istanbul as well, and killed Muslims. Terrorism is a terrible thing to suffer from but the assumption that anyone who follows the same faith or speaks the same language with the attacker is also a potential terrorist is just absurd.
Considering all the help of advanced technology in this time and age one would hope that members of different civilizations would understand each other, as opposed to clashing with one another. When a movie like the Avatar comes out, suddenly everyone loves and understands each other and nature…..One can only hope that that is the direction mankind will eventually be headed towards…..we are meant to complete each other not omit…..
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