Saturday, September 04, 2004

Bloodbath in Belsan

The Guardian's Susan Sevareid has an article about Arab reaction to the attack at the school in Beslan, Russia.

Selected Quote:

[A] prominent Arab journalist wrote that Muslims must acknowledge the painful fact that Muslims are the main perpetrators of terrorism. "Our terrorist sons are an end-product of our corrupted culture," Abdulrahman al-Rashed, general manager of Al-Arabiya television, wrote in his daily column published in the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper. It ran under the headline, "The Painful Truth: All the World Terrorists are Muslims!" ....Arab TV stations repeatedly aired footage of terrified young survivors being carried from the school siege scene, while pictures of dead and wounded children ran on front pages of Saturday's newspapers in the region. Ahmed Bahgat, an Egyptian Islamist and columnist for Egypt's leading pro-government newspaper, Al-Ahram, wrote that the images "showed Muslims as monsters who are fed by the blood of children and the pain of their families." "If all the enemies of Islam united together and decided to harm it ... they wouldn't have ruined and harmed its image as much as the sons of Islam have done by their stupidity, miscalculations, and misunderstanding of the nature of this age," Bahgat wrote.

Of course, the headline is false that all the world's terrorists today are muslims. A few recent examples spring to mind, Eric Rudolph was a christian terrorist while Eric Harris and Dylan Kleibold were atheist terrorists.

Thomas R. O'Connor, a professor of criminology, has a fascinating page on the history of terrorism that discusses the many different definitions of terrorism used by governments and academics.

Selected quotes:
Terrorism has been around as a major nuisance to governments as long as recorded history. The Bible advocates terror, assassination, and annihilation in several places (see the book of Numbers and book of Joshua). Regicide, or the killing of kings by rivals, and the brutal suppression of loyalists afterwards, has been an established pattern of political ascent since Julius Caesar (44 B.C.). The Zealots in Israel (100 A.D.) fought Roman occupation with hit-and-run tactics in public places. The Assassins in Iraq (1100 A.D.) fought the Christian Crusaders with suicide tactics. The Thuggees in India (1300 A.D.) kidnapped travelers for sacrifice to their Goddess of Terror, Kali. The Spanish Inquisition (1469-1600) dealt with Heretics by systematized torture, and the whole medieval era was based on terrorizing a countryside. The Luddites (1811-1816) destroyed machinery and any symbol of modern technology. A Serb terrorist (1914) started World War I. Hitler's rise to power (1932) involved plans for genocide. Nations like Ireland, Cyprus, Algeria, Tunisia, and Israel probably would have never become republics if not for revolutionary terrorism, and more than a few people would say the United States was founded on terrorism. However defined, it is clear that terrorism has helped shape world history in a variety of ways, and it has long meant different things to different people.

* * * *

There is no one, good definition of terrorism. In fact, it might be impossible to define because it is intangible and fluctuates according to historical and geographical contexts. Some forms of it are indistinguishable from crime, revolution, and war. Other forms of it are easily distinguishable. Each and every person knows that they would in some way, some day, under some back-against-the-wall condition, support some form of terrorism (as a tactic of last resort) in the name of some deeply cherished cause or value. You may already be a supporter of terrorism, or you may live under a government that practices terrorism, and not know it. There is no universally accepted definition of terrorism (Long 1990).


Cite: T.R. O'Connor's Definitions of Terrorism (Last Updated July 24,2004). MegaLinks in Criminal Justice.

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