News 09/11/01

USU Muslims condemn terrorist attack

By Leon D'souza and Will Bettmann

It was like a scene straight from the movies.

Only worse.

And this time, Bruce Willis wasn't around to save the day.

Astonishing terrorist strikes in the United States quickly reached a global audience Tuesday, with many around the world watching live coverage as both World Trade Center towers collapsed.

In the West Bank city of Nablus, thousands of Palestinians poured into the streets to celebrate, chanting "God is great" and distributing candy to passers-by, even as their leader, Yasser Arafat, expressed horror over the attacks.

Audiences were transfixed by the awful images from New York and Washington, and world leaders expressed solidarity with an America that looked more vulnerable than ever, offering a stream of condolences.

A number of media commentators and political leaders speculated Tuesday that the hijackings were the handiwork of one or more terrorist organizations from the Middle East.

Muslim students at Utah State University condemned the attacks.

"I don't think Islam calls for killing innocent people and children. They [terrorists] may be Muslim, but they apply Islam in the wrong way," said Abedalrazef Khalil, an international student from Palestine. "There is no justification for any terrorist attack."

However, some Muslim students on campus believe that U.S. foreign policy was at least partially responsible for yesterdays attacks.

"When they [US government] bombed Afghanistan to look for Osama, there were many innocent people who died in that bombing. When they bombed Iraq, they bombed one of the hospitals during Ramadan, the fasting month, and all they said was that they did not mean to do it," said one international student who wished to remain anonymous.

Peter Galderisi, associate professor of political science, urged USU students to be extremely cautious in responding to Tuesday's events.

"In 1979 and 1980, during the Iran hostage crisis, Arab students on campuses across the country were accosted and even attacked. Even if we assume it was someone from the Middle East, it was probably a small group. It doesn't mean that students here support that group(s)," said Galderisi.

ASUSU President Steve Palmer said he heard reports of international students being threatened at Weber State University. Palmer said he was working with other Utah university student body presidents on a statewide initiative to hold vigils and other events to mourn the attacks and promote inter-cultural understanding. Steve Starks, student body president at WSU, denied that any threats had been issued. USU's vigil will be at 8 p.m. Thursday on the steps of Old Main, and will be addressed by President Kermit L. Hall.

Muslim students hope that Tuesday's events will help Americans empathize with the turmoil and suffering many Middle Easterners deal with on an everyday basis.

"I think deeply there is a relationship between what's happening here in America and in the Middle East. I hope today's events teach political forces a lesson; that there are people suffering and they have to help them. They must find a solution to the crisis in the Middle East, and stand in a fair position between Palestinians and Israelis," said Khalil.

Galderisi said that the precision and scale of the attacks led him to believe that the work was a collaboration of numerous terrorist organizations. Muhammad Al-hamlan, an international student from Saudi Arabia, agreed.

"I think it's no single group. It has to be a multi-organizational act. If it's Bin Laden or the Taliban, they're crazy. But the governments pushed them to do it, said Al-hamlan.

This report contains information from the Associated Press




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