Campus News

September 9, 2010

Insight on the post-9/11 world

In the nine years since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the United States has seen a great deal of change, but many challenges ignited that day still face the nation. Emory faculty experts in Islam, human rights, Muslims in America, law and terrorism are providing their perspective on issues the country currently faces, such as the so-called Ground Zero mosque, Islamophobia, Guantanamo Bay and national security.

Suppressed fears
Vince Cornell
, Middle East and Islamic studies expert, says the proposed mosque near the World Trade Center site is bringing to the forefront a lot of suppressed fears about Islam. After 9/11, many questions were raised about what exactly Muslims believe: Do they all want to destroy America? Is Islam a violent religion? Cornell believes that many Americans let these questions go unanswered.  

Now with the mosque controversy, he says politicians are stirring the pot because "it’s an issue of convenience more than an issue of principle … The more Muslims are heard speaking about their religion from their own point of view... the more people will realize Muslims are people. People are people," says Cornell, Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies.

Terrorism is the world's problem  
Islam and human rights scholar and activist Abdullahi An-Na'im says he's not concerned about the rhetoric and debate surrounding the mosque near ground zero – he's just happy there is a debate. What An-Na'im wants people to know, though, is that terrorism is not coming from mainstream Muslim communities.

"In Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, more Muslims [are] by far victims of this terrorist violence everyday... The problem is a global human problem, not an American problem," says An-Na'im, Charles Candler Howard Professor of Law. "To see the arbitrary violence and terrorism is an enemy of every people and every cause."

Are we safe?
It's the resounding question that's been asked over and over again since 9/11 with no definite answers. Law and terrorism expert Charles Shanor says, "there's literally no way of thoroughly answering that question."

The Emory Law professor says there may be more jihadists now, but most of the terrorist training camps in Afghanistan have been destroyed. Because of this, he expects to see more amateurish terrorist activities that lack technology and training.

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