A Muslim calls for sanity
by Prince El Hassan Ben Talal
as moderator of the World Conference on Religion
and Peace, nor as a Muslim directly descended from the Prophet Mohammad,
but as a member of our common human family, I wish to express my deepest
condolences to the families, friends and colleagues who have lost loved
ones in the heinous attacks in New York and other cities of the United
States of America on Sept. 11, 2001. I further extend my deepest sympathy
to the people of the United States of America, to all concerned humanity
and to President George W. Bush.
The world's faithful stand
aghast at the tragedy that has befallen ordinary people of all nations and
faiths who live within the United States, and I condemn unequivocally this
outrage against humanity.
Respecting the sanctity of
life is the cornerstone of all great faiths. Such acts of extreme
violence, in which innocent men, women and children are both the targets
and the pawns, are totally unjustifiable. No religious tradition can or
will tolerate such behaviour and all will loudly condemn it.
Terrorism is by nature
indiscriminate, killing civilians of all ages, colours and persuasions; it
intimidates individuals and communities the world over; its very existence
depends upon its ability to perpetuate fear; it is perhaps the most
dreadful tool used to express violence.
The proliferation of terrorist
cells operating throughout the world challenges us all, particularly
governments, which will have to address this provocation at all levels in
the 21st century. A piecemeal approach will not do. Nor will a reaction
based upon conjecture as to whom might be responsible. In times like
these, it is easy to act immediately and to think things through only once
irrevocable decisions have been made.
I therefore urge the United
States and the international community to exercise restraint in the face
of this daunting challenge. And I urge that this challenge be seen as a
global challenge, for terrorism affects all nations, large and small.
I also urge all people of
goodwill to recall the wise words of Dr Martin Luther King Jr, who said
that hate, like cancer, “begets hate and violence begets violence in a
never-ending circle of destruction”.
In the aftermath of this
heinous crime, there is the risk that specific communities, such as the
Muslims, will face violent repercussions; Isalmophobia is not, alas, an
uncommon form of xenophobia and intolerance. So it must be emphasised that
all ordinary Muslims stand together in condemning such acts of terror.
Contemporary Muslim societies have been largely shaped by the recent
legacy of their colonial subjugation. Yet, despite their often grim social
reality, ordinary Muslim men, women and children abhor those who would use
violence to air their grievances.
Muslims, Christians and Jews
have a common shared history. The politics of the Middle East must not be
allowed to destroy the natural capacity that people of faith have to live
together and to work together. We must always hold fast to the moral
values contained in our common heritage despite the conflicting rights and
comparable injustices still separating us. Bloodshed is no answer.
Tuesday's tragic events serve
to remind us that the world today is increasingly interconnected. And as
borders come to lose their meaning, no nation can afford to isolate
itself. We are moving towards a single world with a single agenda and that
agenda must be set with a view to fostering reconciliation and
Although tit-for-tat measures
may sometimes appear to be an attractive option in the short term, we in
the Middle East know that they only make a mockery of any and all attempts
at real peace — between traditions, between nations, between civilisations,
between equals. We ourselves have failed to develop a civilised framework
for disagreement. Sometimes, too, we reject international processes that
just might allow us to find a new way forward. This is a mistake and one
that must not be repeated in the context of the struggle against
A common consensus must be
reached to strengthen UN Security Council resolutions encouraging
international cooperation against terrorist activities. Our goal will be
to tighten the noose around terrorist networks and their supporters. World
leaders and religious representatives across the globe must also send out
a clear message that terrorism is anathema to any religion and must be
isolated from it.
As we contemplate, in the days
and weeks ahead, the horrific images of devastation now etched in our
memories and share the grief of our neighbours in the United States, we
will also search for other ways to reinforce our common humanity and
identify our common fears. For, make no mistake about it: Yesterday's
attacks were aimed at one world composed of many nations and not at one
Prince El Hassan Ben Talal
contributed this article to the Jordan Times.
by courtesy & © 2001 Jordan