“I”m bringing some news from D.C.,” Khalid Turanni, executive director of American Muslims for Jerusalem told a crowd in the Pendleton Room last night. “History did not start on September 11th.”
Turanni spoke at an event titled “Why Do “They” Hate “Us.”” He said the events of Sept. 11 were a combination of many geographical political dynamics that culminated with what he called a “heinous crime.”
“It is important for us to try to get to the roots of what happened, why this took place, not to justify it but to try to explain it,” he said. “To examine our relationship with the world, especially with those who cheered when Sept. 11 took place.”
Turanni said while the tragedy opened many people”s eyes, there has been a national sentiment to muffle the attempt to explore why the tragedy occurred.
“There is confusion between trying to shed light on the root cause to avoid it happening again and excusing what happened,” he said.
He also addressed the image of the United States in the Muslim world and argued against the idea that America is hated because it is seen as free.
Turanni attributed anti-American sentiments largely to American foreign policy and the way the term “democracy” is used and enforced.
He discussed situations in Iran and Zaire as well as Nicaragua, citing instances when he said the U.S. has been responsible for democratic and anti-democratic influences that have shaped the modern history of these countries.
“When people asked for democracy, we took away their democratic government and we put back the dictator,” he said, referring to a situation in Zaire. “It happens over years and years and anti-American sentiment grows and grows.”
News coverage of world events is also an issue, Turanni said. He said that some events that make headlines for days in other places do not get noticeable coverage in the American press.
He spoke about the $5 billion given to Israel annually, and how the amount of money Americans put into the conflict is more than the total amount of money given to Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean combined, with the exception of Colombia and Egypt.
“These are facts and figures people from Pakistan to Morocco know this is something that is daily news. People are very very interested in that,” he said.
“We are not disconnected from the world anymore,” he said. “But before September 11th people thought we can be busy just reading our own news without realizing how involved with the rest of the world we are,” he said.
LSA junior Fatina Abdrabboh said that following Sept. 11 she feels it is essential to have speakers and educational programs that explain Muslim perspectives. “There”s been a revival in curiosity about the Muslim world and the Arab world in general,” she said. “It”s key to understand the concerns of the Muslim people regarding U.S. foreign policy.”
Abdrabboh added that University students have the responsibility to broaden their horizons and expand their understanding of world views, including gaining an understanding of the “hatred” that the many in the Muslim world have for the United States. “Central to all of this is U.S. foreign policy,” she said.
For LSA sophomore Kirstn Tatar, the event was a chance to get a different viewpoint on world events. She said she wanted to see a perspective other than that presented in the U.S. media because she said she feels the media does not always present viewpoints held worldwide.
“We”re kind of self-centered so we need to listen to people who”ve been and experienced other perspectives to know what”s really going on,” she said. “Our politics in our country affect people in other countries and we should be able to know what”s going on and decide if we want to do something about it.”