|Al-Ahram Weekly Online
29 Nov. - 5 Dec. 2001
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875||Current issue | Previous issue | Site map|
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The 11 September attacks reflect not only the flagrant injustice of globalisation, to which the bitterness and hatred of the suicide bombers bear testimony, but the terrible injustices that rule the world today. US policies can seem directly responsible for these injustices; hence the attack on the symbols of American civilisation.
What we must remember, however, is that bitterness and hatred arise among the dispossessed in the Third World; the causes, therefore, are not only global. The despair of the suicide bombers resulted not only from international policies but also from specific local conditions. It is possible to address these, at least, directly.
Violence permeates every aspect of life, from patriarchal authority in the family to school curricula designed to crush the students' opinions. Socially and economically, the vast majority have no say in matters pertaining to their daily lives. In academia, chauvinist structures rule the pursuit of knowledge, so that women are often at a disadvantage.
These are some of the kinds of discrimination from which our world suffers. Race, class and gender affect individual lives and fates, and so a violent reaction from the underprivileged is only to be expected.
To counter terrorism, in other words, moral and material violence in all these spheres must be addressed. As H G Wells remarked, the history of humanity is a race in which disaster and learning compete. If we are to prevent disaster, we must engage in a great deal of learning -- in the true sense of the word. Only then can global violence be addressed effectively.
*This week's Soapbox speaker is a professor of communications at Cairo University.
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