Tuesday, September 11, 2007

In Memoriam

September 11, or 911, has been etched into the psyche of many since that day when two Boeing 747 jets full of passengers deliberately crashed into each of the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York. I rose up that morning to prepare to go to work. As was my custom then, I switched on CNN and let it run while I busied myself getting ready, but there was nothing more busy then than what was appearing on my TV screen that morning.

Over and over, the news replayed the scenes where 2 planes, one after another, drove straight into the World Trade Center buildings, causing them to eventually collapse like a deck of cards, carrying everyone in the buildings with them, including the firemen who had entered the building earlier to rescue people from the towering infernos . My mother, who lived with me then, also witness the scenes, but she seemed nonchalant, as if these things happen all the time. You can't blame her. In her time, she has lived through the Second World War and seen more destruction and brutality and on a much wider scale and intensity than what was showing on TV that day.

Nevertheless, this latest drama was incredulous, it was terrible, it was shocking, and the enormity of the tragedy was yet unfolding though the actual incident had taken place 6 hours earlier half way across the world from where I lived. At work that day, I heard the first people mouthing '911' as if there was no other way to refer to the horror of the incident except through a coded reference. The Chinese media used the same numbers (jiu yao yao) to refer to the incident. I imagine that every other language on earth, including Arabic, used those same numbers.

On this day, 11th September, 2007, six years to the day that that tragedy occurred, we remember the over 3000 innocent people who died in the Towers, we remember the heroism of the firemen who died in the line of duty and we remember the reporters weeping while they reported on the incident near ground zero - it was heart-wrenching to watch these same reporters overcome with grief and yet having to bring the news of the terrible tragedy to the rest of the shocked world.

Of the men and organisations that perpetrated this atrocity, we remember them as we remember people like Hitler, nay, infinitely worst than Hitler. It would not be far from the truth if we remember them as we think of what Satan looked like. Ironically, their action was done in the name of their Islamic God. People of the west in the last 20 years or so had begun to be enamoured of the Islamic religion. Droves were abandoning their age-old religions and converting over to it. After 911, it was timeout and re-evaluation. I would like to think that this has nothing to do with Islam, but somehow, over the last six years, the association has stuck because the terrorists keep on invoking the name of their Islamic God while the moderates among them stand by quietly as if in acquiecense.

6 years on, these Islamic terrorists are still alive and bombing. 6 years on, the moderate and the faithful among the mighty Islamic faith have done little to effectively dent the extreme elements among them. 6 years on, we still have to take off our shoes in some airports, not because we need to walk on holy ground, but to show that we are not terrorists. 6 years on, countries still put up a security wall rivaling the Great Wall of China whenever any event involving 'Westerners' are staged. 6 years on, cities from London to Madrid to Islamabad still suffer aftershocks of 911.

We would like the 3000 odd people to rest in peace, but, sadly, the world continues its war on terror.