Debating our debate
Marc Schulman's blog on the article I wrote with our Editor Isabel Hilton misses most of the points despite generous quotations - thanks for them. Solana linked to it below. It is far too defensive. A huge debate is finally opening up in the United States about the dangers of the way it is seeking to impose democracy, and it is not 'anti-American' to make these points just because one is not American.
As for the leadership of the anti-war demonstrations, I agree. We refer to the exceptional size and genuine character of the popular feeling against President Bush's war of choice. Alas, the leadership of the organisations that called them were there because they opposed the war in Afghanistan. In my view, their sectarianism ensured that there was no popular, or democratic follow-through.
There is a good discussion about this in Todd Gitlin's blog at TPM cafe.
In his blog, Somali-Norwegian Bill Ainashe shoots down Hazem Saghieh & Saleh Bechir's argument on openDemocracy that the "muslim community" is a European invention. He says the community even "predates the European colonialists" and was the foundation for a Muslim empire that ruled for centuries...
A new paradigm for the fight against terror
'One of the most surprising political developments since the attacks of Sept.
11. 2001 has been the extent to which the fight against terrorism has divided
the democratic world' writes Fernando Cardoso
former president of
But Cardoso has faith. The 'seemingly unbridgeable gulf' between those who wanted to counter terrorism through 'taking the battle to the enemy' and those who 'tended to minimise the threat' is not so unbridgeable after all. It is the Madrid Agenda, Cardoso believes, that may prove to be our golden gate.
"Arabs out of Iraq"
Inflammatory graffiti has begun to appear on the walls of Baghdad saying, "Arabs out of Iraq" and "We back the government - Arabs go home", The Independent (UK) reports. New strict residency rules to detain and expel foreign Arabs, suspected of aiding the insurgency, have triggered both protest and support.
Foreign Muslim fighters in Iraq are a familiar story, but the focus on foreign Arabs is new. Targeted groups include Palestinians, Sudanese Arabs, Syrians, Saudis, Egyptians, and even Chechens and Iranians. The LA Times observes: "For those who have lived here for years, the xenophobia is painful. Most Arabs came for work, often with proper papers."
For an insight into the difference between an Arab and a Muslim response to the "war on terror", see Dyab Abou Jahjah on The thirty year war on terror, and Fareena Alam on A humane Muslim future. Add your thoughts and read Dyab Abou Jahjah's comments on the distinctions and stereotypes in our forum discussion.
Thanks for being there
Thanks to everyone who held a meeting on democracy and terrorism on Friday, March 11. Please remember to let us know what happened at your meeting and what you spoke about, here. You can also send your comments by email to firstname.lastname@example.org - any length or format is fine. We'll be back soon with more news on the meetings and post-summit reflection.
Retiro Gardens, Madrid, March 11
A little girl rides past on a tricycle clutching a packet of crisps and an old woman wipes tears away and puts her hanky back in her pocket. It is almost silent here but for the clanking of metal on metal as workmen dismantle the stage where the king and mourners had stood.
I am sitting on a low wall next to the memorial hill that has been created in memory of all the victims of terrorism. In Retiro gardens, a few minutes from Atocha station, the sun is out and spring is in the air.
Listening to the US Attorney General...
I have just come from listening to His Excellency the new Attorney General of the USA, Alberto Gonzales, speaking to a session at the Madrid summit. The difference of tone between him and most other speakers was striking. All our important speakers are emphasising that fundamental principles of the rule of law and human rights must be safeguarded or the terrorists will win. Mr. Gonzalesview is that in the fight against terrorism we must "seize the initiative in a way that is consistent with the rule of law". Rarely can the word consistent have seemed so miserable and diminished.
Everyone else I have heard speak at the Summit - look at Kofi Annan's speech for a clear example - has gone out of their way to recognise the long list of terrorist outrages from Bali to Bagdhad that have taken place between September 11 and March 11 - except Alberto Gonzales. The words talk about a global struggle, but the world as it is lived seems not to figure in any felt or human way.
He spoke of the need to "fight terrorism and advance freedom so that the world will be more peaceful" but the tone was militaristic, and his conclusion left no room for doubt: "we will not be divided, we will taste victory."
It did not leave a particularly democratic taste in my mouth.
11 March meeting: a London debate
If you haven't yet peopled a meeting to discuss democracy and terror on 11 March, and you're in London, how about peopling this one? It's open to all and you don't need a ticket.
"Democracy and Terror"
A panel debate on the first anniversary of the Madrid bombings to reflect on the human cost of terror and consider a just, democratic response. With Richard Norton-Taylor, Steve Crawshaw, Alex Colas, Marcus Gerhardt, Dominic Hilton, Douglas Murray.
openDemocracy and The Grimshaw Club invite you to join them at LSE, 6-7.30pm.
Madrid recommendations: internet and democracy
The document, The Infrastructure of Democracy, states: "truth emerges best in open conversation among people with divergent views".
"Terrorism is everyone's issue. The internet connects everyone. A connected citizenry is the best defense against terrorist propaganda."
Consider yourself a connected citizen? This is about the part you play.
The Madrid Summit - Creative debates
Over the last two days of the Madrid Summit, twenty panel discussions have been running, covering subjects from ‘Stopping the spread of WMDs’ to ‘Terrorism and the travel industry.’I was also there for part of the panel on Democracy, Terrorism and the Open Internet. There were lots more panels, and I was the note-taker on a couple of these: ‘Protecting the Humanitarian Space in the Face of Violence and Terror’ and ‘Women, religion, terror, democracy.’ I’ll tell you a little about the first.