One beautiful September morning when the sky was unbelievably blue, the sunlight eerily ethereal and the air mystically magic, two silver jetliners flew straight into the Twin Towers killing everyone in them and destroying America’s most prized edifice. Hellfire followed. It took weeks, nay months to recover. The words ‘Taliban’ and ‘Al-Qaeda’ were introduced overnight in American diction. The world at large too discovered the term Al-Qaeda which before 9/11 was little known.
I remember Wolf Blitzer of CNN interviewing our then ambassador in Washington Maliha Lodhi. He asked her what Al-Qaeda meant and drew a blank from her. (It means The Hub) Dr Lodhi was in the dark, as were the whole of America and the rest of the world. Nor did suicide bombers exist then. People didn’t blow themselves up to kill others.
Sporadic cases of this kind of murder happened in Israel, but the rest of the universe remained detached and unaware of this monster which was soon to rear its ugly face in other parts of the globe. ‘War on terror’ was yet another phrase, unheard of until President Bush made it a household term and said he would “smoke” the terrorists out wherever they be hiding.
Nineteen Arab hijackers who called themselves Muslims and attacked innocent people in the name of Islam on September 11, 2001, have forever left a black mark on 23 per cent of the world’s population and the second largest religion on earth.
Nine years have gone by since 9/11, but the fires of hate, hostility and distrust among Muslims, Jews and Christians remain. They simmer at times; rage at others, but never go out. When one out of five Americans today firmly believes that President Barack Obama is a Muslim and not a Christian because he’s never seen attending church or carrying a Bible ala his predecessors Bill Clinton and George Bush, what is one to say?
Let’s get back to our Burlington Coat Factory building which got picked up by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf with Saudi funds. The plan is to convert it into an Islamic Centre on the lines of a Muslim YMCA. But the right wing media led by Fox News is determined to whip up a mass hysteria against the idea, determined to singe the plan. The bigots with loud mouths and empty brains at the channel are churning hate and anger against Muslims. They are drawing right wing conservatives in their fold willing to spread more hate and anger wherever their voices can reach.
One man alone is taking up the cudgels for the embryonic Islamic Centre near the bombed site. He is Jon Stewart. And he’s skewering Fox News! The job that a Muslim in general and a Saudi in particular should be doing is instead being done by a Jew! He’s one of the few who presents the true face of Islam as it should be to his Comedy Channel viewers here in America via his Daily Show with Jon Stewart. It’s perhaps the best watched late night show going. It has no peers.
On “Fox & Friends” the Islamophobic anchors and their guests continue to smear the reputation of Feisal Abdul Rauf, asking questions like, “Where is this money coming from? This guy has questionable ties. The Kingdom Foundation, which has been a funder of Imam Rauf in the past, is this Saudi organisation headed up by the guy who tried to give Rudy Giuliani $10 million after 9/11 that was sent back. He funds radical madrassas all over the world.”
As it turns out that the “guy” is Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal who is now hold your breath; the largest shareholder after the Murdoch family, of News Corp, who in turn owns Fox News!
“That’s right. The guy Fox is painting as a sinister money force owns part of Fox News,” Jon Stewart screamed. “We know that it’s a terror mosque, because the money may be coming from a bad guy, who definitely owns part of Fox News. Now we know that he’s a bad guy, because we just heard it on Fox News. And by hearing it on Fox News, watching Fox News, I’m increasing their viewership and their advertising rates go up. Now part of that money goes to the bad guy we learnt about on Fox, because he’s their part-owner, Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, allowing him then to ‘make it rain,’ so to speak, on the terror mosque.” Bravo Stewart.
Fox News tells Americans that the Saudi prince is funding Islamic radicalism; it doesn’t want Americans to know that the same ‘guy’ is also funding Fox News! That’s the inconvenient truth.