VISCONTI Why, in your opinion, did
DR. AHMED It was a combination of
several factors. The initial thrust
for 9/11 came primarily from the
Middle East from certain Arabs.
It’s coming directly with links to
the Palestinian-Israeli problem of
the monarchies of the Middle East.
They’re angered with the perception that the United States is supporting those monarchies.
The United States is in a state
of war with Afghanistan, and that’s
a new creator of conflict that has
nothing to do with the Middle East
or with 9/11.
We need to be very wary about
trying to locate simplistic answers
to this really complex and urgent
question. Unless we really understand what caused it, we are not
going to be in a better position to
face this coming decade.
with what they need for a decent
life. They don’t have jobs, incomes,
They feel a sense of siege from
globalization. They are ruled
over by utterly callous autocratic
regimes. It is this anger and frustration that has manifested itself at the
extreme in support for terrorists
like Osama bin Laden.
What bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri really wanted to do was
overthrow their own governments.
In that sense, they are very much
like the young men and women
who rallied in Tahrir Square. They
took an incredibly courageous and
constructive course of action; bin
Laden took a very unproductive,
very destructive course of action.
Ultimately, they do emanate from
this common wellspring of anger
and frustration that you see is
endemic all across the region.
Franklin and Jefferson all rolled
into one. Jinnah’s vision is a
modern Muslim state. He wants
women’s rights, minority rights,
respect for the constitution and
The average Muslim within
Cairo or Karachi has no hope. He’s
either going to follow Osama bin
Laden and violence, or he’s going
to follow Jinnah and take the path
The Muslim world has decided
between these two poles. That is
why we have to understand the
notion of democracy, which is
crucial for us here in the United
States, who more or less invented
these concepts. As for the Muslim
world over there, there can be no
Bin Laden or Jinnah?
DR. POLLACK The immediate cause
was Osama bin Laden and the
most violent extremists. They do
not represent the larger Muslim
community. They’ve gotten it into
their heads that they need to bring
about violent, sudden change in the
They want to take the Muslim
world back to the seventh century,
something painfully few in the
Muslim world have any interest
in whatsoever. They decided the
United States was the force blocking them.
It’s just as important to understand that there is a wider set of
issues, a backdrop to not just 9/11
but to the entire phenomenon
of this extremist terrorism. The
Middle East is full of people who
are deeply angry and frustrated
with their circumstances. The Arab
state system is broken, economically, politically, socially. It is absolutely failing to provide its people
DR. AHMED In 1999, at Cambridge
University, I wrote a paper for
“History Today.” I drew two models
of Muslim society. One extreme is
this character Osama bin Laden
who represents anger, violence,
confrontation and hatred. On
the other side of the spectrum is
Muhammad Ali Jinnah, founding father of the modern state
of Pakistan. He is Washington,
VISCONTI How much of that struggle
do you think is playing out with
Muslims in America?
DR. POLLACK I traveled to 75 cities for my project “Journey Into
America,” spending a year talking
to every kind of American, every
kind of Muslim.
Americans would ask me why
Muslims hate us, or if a neighbor
BIAS COMPLAINTS FROM MUSLIMS ARE INCREASING
TOTAL OF ISLAM-RELATED RELIGIOUS COMPLAINTS IN THE LAST DECADE
598 504 507 593 606 668
’ 10 ’ 11