To the editor,
I was working with a United Nations refugee program in Guinea, West Africa, on 9/11. We watched the towers fall on television. I listened to the extensive 24-hour wall-to-wall radio coverage of the news on the BBC World Service. The Guineans asked me to give their condolences to the people in America: to you, to us.
Sara Jawhari, a Kansas City, Mo., senior at KU, is an American Muslim. She wrote about her experiences in the University Daily Kansan last week. “We saw Americans unite at candlelight vigils and memorial services and found signs and bumper stickers that announced ‘United We Stand…’” But, “it was clear to me that Arabs and Muslims weren’t included in this unity.” “Our nationality and patriotism was questioned.” Sara wishes that someday “I could hold up the sign that states ‘United We Stand’ and truly believe it.”
Sometime after we began the controversial wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the International Herald Tribune published an article by a British parliamentarian. She said that the Bush administration (and the media) made a mistake by calling this “an attack on America.” Instead, she said, it should have been labeled “a crime against humanity” in order to place this atrocity in proper perspective and to better garner international support for any subsequent U.S. actions. Unfortunately, it became a war against Arabs and Muslims. We alienated many people and left a lot of nations on the other side of the fence, including our friends in Guinea … and people like KU student Sara Jawhari.