English Peace Frog

A political and personal blog in English and (a little) Japanese.

Location: Japan

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Study the Spanish Response to Terrorism

The response, according to a CNN report I just watched, to the train bombings in Spain is interesting and instructive. After "Spain's 9/11", the Spanish government, contrary to intuition (and the model of the U.S.'s response), did not launch an invasion on Morocco (or, like the U.S., on the wrong country, like, I don't know, Madagascar), relaxed immigration policies, and granted amnesty to illegal immigrants from North Africa already living in the country. It also produced and spread educational materials promoting understanding and tolerance of Muslims in Spain (including a video called "the Moroccan Experience"). According to the members of the Islamic community (people interviewed on the street), the result of the government's efforts is that radical beliefs among Spanish Muslims are becoming "increasingly rare". Much more significant, the Islamic Commission of Spain, the chief body for Spain's 1,000,000 Muslims, did no less than issue a fatwa against Osama bin Laden!

How many Muslim organizations in the U.S. have done that?


Blogger Saije said...

I'm not sure I see the comparison. The government of Morocco was not implicated in the Madrid attack (unlike the Afghan government which openly admitted that it was allowing Al Quaeda sanctuary there).

Hopefully the Spanish government is propogating understanding of other religions as well. Or are we only to be sympathetic to the Moroccan Experience lest we further radicalize Muslims? The Catholic Church in Spain, for example, is guite upset right now about the legalizing of homosexual marriage. Will that justify Catholics bombing the railway station? And should the official response then be to produce videos of the Opus Dei Experience? so that everyone can be more understanding of what motivates a Catholic radical.

With respect, I don't see the point here. Surely you aren't suggesting that 191 people justifiably died in a terrorist attack in Madrid because someone was insensitive to Islam?

12:32 PM  
Blogger hokkaidoabbey said...

1. Afghanistan didn't attack the U.S.; Al Qaeda did. Further, the 9/11 Commission report found the Taliban opposed Al Qaeda's plan to attack the U.S., even if they continued to harbor Al Qaeda. If you really want to delve further into this, the argument could certainly be made that the Moroccan government hasn't done enough to root out terrorist groups, to stop them before they attack people. But all this is irrevelent. My comparison was useful for illustrating my point, even if the Morocco government didn't have an identical relationship to the terrorists from there as did the Taliban to Al Qaeda.
2. Your notions about Spain raising awareness about other religions also are not relevant to the basic and useful facts of what has happened as a result of their choice of response to terrorism. Look at how the U.S. treated the Islamic community after 9/11. Can you seriously believe that rounding up hundreds of Arabs and holding them incognito for months doesn't have more of a chance of radicalizing them as does attempting to assure that same population that they are not going to be demonized, and that attempts will be made to prevent bigotry from developing against them in society will reduce the chance of radicalization occurring? Can you understand how this has zero connection to Catholics and gay marriage? Are Catholics in Spain in danger of being held accountable en masse for a mass slaying committed by Opus Dei?
3. Of course not. Your question is a bit shocking, because it's hard to believe that you are actually missing my point to that extent.

To clarify, my point is that Spain's response is much more likely to reduce terrorism, whereas the U.S.'s has not been.

Do you genuinely want terrorist attacks to stop? I do.


My intuition nudges me toward believing you might respond by claiming the U.S. response has actually reduced terrorism; if made, it would be a claim easily refused by any number of sources. Terrorism has skyrocketed since we invaded Iraq, and not just in Iraq.

4:00 PM  
Blogger Saije said...

Your premise seems to be that a terrorist attack is on some level justified and requires a response of education and understanding.

Your argument reminds me of the old canard that the rape victim had it coming because she wore her skirt too short. And if she just dressed more modestly and didn't make eye contact, the rapist wouldn't have been so inflamed

Do you believe that there is ANY justification for the terrorist attack on the United States of America on 9/11?

If so, we do not need to discuss it further because you will never convince me that my college classmate, who died in the WTC on 9/11, died because someone didn't understand Islam sufficiently or because we refused to pull troops out of Saudi Arabia when we had been asked to station them there by its government or because we support Israel's right to exist or E. Timor's independence from Indonesia, all of which have been stated by the terrorists as reasons for their attacks on innocent civilians.

You will also not be able to provide any convincing evidence that either the Afghan or Iraqi people wish the return of either the Taliban or Saddam Hussein. They have clearly demonstrated otherwise and the majority of people in both countries have not shown any desire to champion the terrorist attacks in the West as being carried out in their name. What about their rights?

The recruits to the terrorist's cause don't just come from Saudi Arabia. They are coming from European and moderate Muslim societies in the Middle East. Many of these new adherents have already experienced the multi-cultural, pluralistic and secular society from which you believe the solution will come. Clearly they don't find your olive branch of tolerance and understanding to be especially compelling. And why should they? You are an infidel.

And if you are correct in your premise --and were I to accept that the Islamic terrorists have been unjustifiably treated by somebody somewhere to the point that their murderous rampages are merely a cry for help and understanding-- I give as a counter-example the experience of African-Americans in this country or the Armenians after the Turkish slaughter or the Jews after WWII or the Hutu massacre of Rwandan Tutsis.

African-Americans, Armenians, Tutsis and European Jews would surely have been justified under your premise in any reign of terror they might have wished to impose on the rest of the world. Why did they not? Are they less aggrieved than the Islamic terrorist, less deserving of a sufficient number of innocent victims to kill and maim randomly?

It is time for the terrorists to change their ways, to denounce all violence and death and rejoin civilized people. That is the solution.

1:53 PM  
Blogger hokkaidoabbey said...


I'm sad and frustrated that you are still misunderstanding me so drastically.

I'm furious at you for claiming that I think terrorism is justified. I never said or implied anything of the sort. I've taken pains to mend your misunderstandings of previous posts, to no avail. I doubt that I'm such a poor communicator that you could reasonably miss my point so fantastically. How can you possible derive from the things I've written that 9/11 was somehow justified??

Virtually every word of what you've written here isn't applicable to anything I've previously said. How can I respond to it?

I'm arguing for ways to prevent future terrorism by searching for the roots of where it starts and doing things about that. Beyond reason, you interpret this as coddling terrorists or something (If you read every word of this blog, you'll not find a single word expressing my opinion of how we should treat terrorists; I've never written anything about it here). You appear to think that this is a treasonable act.

I did suggest that there might be some ways we could work with Muslim communities, to attempt to minimalize some of the qualities that encourage some of them to join extremist groups. There's nothing controversial about this. People in marginalized social situations are vulnerable to joining criminal or radical groups; young people in gang-ridden neighborhoods sometimes join gangs; therefore, there are programs set up in schools to try to prevent them from doing so. It doesn't mean that when a kid joins the crips anyway, and shoots someone, that it's the school's fault.

I NEVER said that if they join extremist groups, this was our fault. You jumped to that conclusion, and it was irresponsible to do so.

I'm sorry about your friend.

6:32 PM  
Anonymous Thinker said...

The Problem is that Spain gave into the Terrorist. This is much like when you give into a somone with Hostages. Although sure it may stop the conflict at its present time but it gives more power to the overall tactic. Now potential terrorists know that Terrorism can infact sway a states policiy specically in Spain. And thus see it as a viable choice into getting their way.

6:41 AM  

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