Our society has been fully securitised by a authorities that also attracts on 9/11 as we speak regardless of 20 years of the disastrous Struggle on Terror. CAGE’s Worldwide Witness Marketing campaign presents a begin for us to get out of the downward spiral.
I used to be in surgical procedure on 9/11, and I used to be on account of depart the subsequent day for a visit to the US, to show and study aid medication with an organisation referred to as Docs Worldwide. We had been planning on going into the Appalachian Mountains to place a few of our data into apply.
After I first heard in regards to the 9/11 assaults I used to be incredulous and initially did not actually soak up what had occurred till I used to be again from work and had an opportunity to listen to and see the surprising footage.
I realised pretty shortly my US journey would most likely not happen and it could have been a blessing in disguise because the considered me, as a bearded Muslim being on the US mainland submit 9/11, would have carried important threat. Actually the primary casualty of submit 9/11 Islamophobic assaults was a Sikh who was mistaken for a Muslim due to his beard and turban, and murdered.
As a result of the US was on a warfare footing and airspace was closed it was abundantly clear I’d not be capable of fly. Nonetheless, already I had adopted the mindset of being a “suspect”. The media and politicians by that time had been in a frenzy, and there was an comprehensible concern and need to make sure there have been no extra assaults within the offing.
In a single day the insecurity of the world post-9/11 flooded into our each day lives with a profound influence and it is reverberations are nonetheless evident to today.
In my very own case, it began at work. The one subject of dialog amongst workers and even sufferers was about this seismic occasion. I nonetheless bear in mind an aged affected person who I noticed a couple of days after 9/11 who had fought in WW2; he was livid and described the assaults as akin to the Japanese assault on Pearl Harbour. He was so incandescent with rage he forgot why he had booked in to see me!
His uncooked emotion unnerved me. I felt visceral concern for my household and others who could possibly be recognized as Muslims.
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A detailed name and escape from Pakistan
Nonetheless, my very own anxieties and issues pale in significance to these immediately impacted by the assaults. This consists of not solely those that misplaced their lives throughout the assaults, but additionally the numerous civilians who had been killed because the Struggle on Terror prolonged all through the world, and those that had been tortured, renditioned or detained with out trial in Guantanamo.
After my failed journey to the US, I went to Pakistan and Afghanistan to test on the medical tasks we had in place there and if these would nonetheless be viable and protected, since Bush and Blair had declared the Struggle on Terror and already attacked Afghanistan.
After I arrived the concern and paranoia was palpable. Regardless of being of Pakistani origin and fluent within the language it was not troublesome to determine me as somebody from overseas. I began to note loads of furtive appears to be like in direction of me and my colleagues, which had been in no small half as a result of bounties introduced by the Individuals for details about or for “individuals of curiosity”. The previous President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf even boasted in his biography of the thousands and thousands Pakistan earned from these bounties.
The deteriorating safety scenario and warfare made it straightforward for us to determine to wrap up the clinic programme, and shortly we left to return to the UK.
In hindsight this was a really fortuitous escape, for which I’ll all the time be grateful, however as somebody who believes in future, it planted the seed in me for the subsequent chapter in my life; I left humanitarian aid and obtained concerned with others to arrange the advocacy group CAGE.
Like most individuals, once I noticed the long-lasting pictures of the boys in orange jumpsuits, these photos had been ingrained in my reminiscence. The query which I wanted to have answered was “who’re these males in orange underneath the masks, ear defenders and gloves, who’ve been stripped of their humanity and displayed like trophies to the world?”
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I additionally knew that if occasions had taken a unique course, I might very simply have ended up in an orange jumpsuit on my knees in Guantanamo and described as “the worst of the worst”. There however for the grace of God, go I.
Two males impacted me specifically. Once we started documenting their circumstances by way of translating Arabic information pages, I noticed a photograph of a person I recognised from being in Croatia; he had been the top of the Kuwaiti humanitarian mission there, and nothing to do with terrorism.
The opposite man was the journalist from Al-Jazeera, Sami al-Hajj. At the moment, journalists like John Simpson had been reporting from Afghanistan and being hailed as heroes, however then you definitely had Sami who, as a result of he was Muslim, was handled as a felony and tortured.
We knew this type of remedy existed earlier than 9/11 however we thought it was solely performed by brutal and barbaric regimes.
Nonetheless, post-9/11 the “champions of liberty and human rights” engaged in the identical practices immediately, or they outsourced their torture to brutal and barbaric paid firms, in a twisted type of “ethics”.
In addition to symbolizing the best way by which the Struggle on Terror has eroded the rule of regulation, Guantanamo – and the orange jumpsuit – has to today functioned as a broader type of tarring and feathering of Muslims; it’s there to disgrace, scare and to warn.
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A second to ask the urgent questions
A submit 9/11 world ought to trigger us to ask some onerous questions of ourselves and our world.
On the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 assaults I by no means anticipated to see the coalition forces beating a hasty ignominious retreat from Afghanistan.
However we should not be caught unaware. We should ask: has the Struggle on Terror actually ended?
If every of us displays on our personal society and likewise appears to be like in direction of the remainder of the world, it turns into clear that the structure constructed from the ashes of 9/11 is all encompassing. Guantanamo continues to be open. The 39 remaining detainees exist there, ready for justice.
On a extra prosaic degree, Muslims should encounter the fixed soundtrack of suspicion in our lives after we journey, or within the UK, after we should stay underneath the slogan of suspicion and aggression: “See it. Say it. Sorted!”
Through the pandemic we have now a powerful libertarian motion opposing lockdown measures regardless of over 130,000 deaths. However the identical individuals are all too joyful to take away their footwear at airports and hand over fluids over 100ml due to far-fetched terrorist plots.
The Forestall program has spawned a multi-million pound cottage business which has been foisted by the least reliable members of society on these society trusts essentially the most: academics, docs and social employees.
The language of the Struggle on Terror of “tackling terrorists” and “extremists” has been co-opted by regimes as numerous as India, China and Myanmar and has been leveraged within the UK to focus on campaigners in opposition to local weather change like Extinction Rebel.
And whistle-blowers like Craig Murray and Julian Assange are imprisoned however those that led the Struggle on Terror, Bush and Blair, stay strolling free.
It behoves us to study classes from the previous 20 years and to have a reality and reconciliation fee. To that finish, this 12 months our Worldwide Witness Marketing campaign brings collectively the voices of survivors who’ve endured torture, rendition, Guantanamo Bay, and who’ve been subjected to discriminatory counter terrorism legal guidelines from around the globe.
The retreat of armies is just not the tip of the Struggle on Terror. Till justice tempered by forgiveness is enacted, true peace will proceed to evade us all.
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The views expressed on this article belong to the writer and don’t essentially mirror the editorial coverage of Center East Monitor.