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After 9/11, Address Muslim Societies' Ills

September 14, 2002

Re "For Many Muslims, Bin Laden Remains a Scapegoat of the U.S.," Sept. 11: Although in many Muslim countries there is deep denial that Osama bin Laden and his terror network were responsible for the attacks on 9/11, this is not the case with the American Muslim community. As a board member of two major Muslim organizations, the Muslim Public Affairs Council and the Council of Pakistan American Affairs, and a columnist for a major ethnic newspaper, I have never doubted the guilt of Al Qaeda. American Muslims stand in complete solidarity with our fellow citizens and want to see this country protected against any repeat of last year's tragedies.

The deep denial of Bin Laden's guilt in the Muslim world stems from poor knowledge of the outside world, suspicion of the U.S. and dislike of its foreign policy and a lack of adequate press coverage that details the overwhelming public evidence of guilt. But the biggest factors are shame and embarrassment over this horrible tragedy and an unwillingness to confront fully what these actions tell us about the state of Muslim societies.

Muslim societies have tremendous social problems that are slowly being addressed. But the present reality is one of weakness and profound dysfunction, and the attacks of 9/11 highlight how dysfunctional and out of step with reality they have become. The proper response is introspective analysis followed by reform, but this path is cut off by lack of freedom in these dictatorial societies. So instead, the path of least resistance is chosen: denial.

If we go ahead with President Bush's plans to topple Saddam Hussein, then we as a nation must commit ourselves to nation-building of the intense variety that transformed Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan after World War II. A truly free and democratic Iraq would allow a portion of the Arab world to begin to deal with these difficult issues.

Nayyer Ali

Huntington Beach

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The insistence by Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge and Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft that Americans should defiantly go about their everyday lives in the face of the new terrorist threats seems ludicrous and hypocritical because the same threats forced our fearless Vice President Dick Cheney to cancel his Sept. 11 appearances and go into hiding.

As Americans we should instead follow the example of a true hero, Buzz Aldrin: When confronted by an irrational zealot, punch him on the nose and walk on (Sept. 10).

Brian Christian

Hollywood

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Those of us old enough to recall Dec. 7, 1941, with clarity also recall that Dec. 7, 1942, brought none of the remembering and memorializing that Sept. 11 brought. Of course, many more people--civilians--were killed in 2001, but still, Dec. 7 was a tremendous shock. Instead, we buckled down and really went to war.

The response this time can't be as targeted, true, but the media have been truly maudlin-plus in all the replays.

William C. Pryor

Anaheim

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