Saturday, July 09, 2005

London's Blast and now Skin colour matters!

A big blast, terrorism for years, floods, famines, anything in any part of the world is not as great as it has to be when it happens in the US or to UK...

(I know this can be VERY controversial... but its burns inside when I think of how countries and its rulers behave like young children)

These two countries that rule the world and control all aspects of what happen in the world...
UK earlier..and US now.

US cried, screamed and begged for attention and security when it was hurt in the 9/11... the worst attack to its country or to its ego? (mind you its no more about people its a personification)

Today UK is crying... high alert and "orange" level security... lol... as if they'll find anything... did US? No...but because it threw a tantrum the repurcussions of which a whole world of people is suffering for... sad... (again a personification for those who've misunderstood)

I found the article below on MSN home..and wanted to share with all of you...all those who live abroad and all who live here in India and who dream of being in these places forever...

Suddenly its everyone's concern and everyone's problem...The London Blast!
Suddenly Indians abroad...very much like in USA's situation... are unwanted, suspected and questioned.
Why? Why do we allow ourselves to be treated such? *very angry,frustrated, agitated*

Source: IANS
London, July 9: When terror strikes the West, it's best to batten down the hatches - especially if you are of the 'wrong' skin colour.

So far I've considered Britain to be an exception in the West. But I maybe wrong.
Times are changing, and when ruthless terrorists struck London Thursday with four rush-hour bombs that left some 50 civilians dead, a number of leaders - led by Prime Minister Tony Blair - called upon the British pub Although no group had yet admitted setting off the blasts, Blair, who rushed to London from the G8 summit in Gleneagles, said: "The vast majority of Muslims here and abroad are decent and law abiding people who abhor these acts of terrorism every bit as much as we do."

He was right in saying so, as were his home secretary, foreign secretary and chief of police, who all issued similar calls. As an Indian who has lived and worked as a London-based foreign correspondent for more than 18 years, I felt relieved.lic to ensure that there is no backlash against Muslims.

Yet, on my way back from Gleneagles to London, I was singled out at Edinburgh airport for special security treatment.

After walking through the metal detectors and being waved past by airport security officials, I was abruptly stopped by a policeman in civvies.

He wore a black suit, but I knew he was a policeman because his ID card said so.
"Do you have a photo-ID of any sort, sir?" he asked.

Yes, I did, I said, and fished out my National Union of Journalists (NUJ) card - a prized document in Britain that says 'Press' in bold black letters.

"Will you be going on to some place else from London or is London your last destination, sir?" the policeman asked.

I said I was headed for London and asked him if this was a random check. And although he said it was, yet, as far as I could see, I was the only person he had stopped.

Streams of white-skinned travellers calmly walked past me without the policeman giving them as much as a second glance.

"This is part of a general tightening of security after yesterday, sir," my policeman informed me, before adding helpfully: "You may well find more of such checks in London."

"Don't worry," I told him, "I'm used to this."

There's a lot more that I could have told him.

I could have said, for instance, that I was not a Muslim. But to say so would have been too demeaning to me as a national from India where followers of all faiths, and of no faiths, are equal before the law.

I could have told him that not a single Indian has been found among the many followers of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. But he wouldn't understand - and, I suspect, wouldn't care.

I could have reminded him that Richard Reid, the shoe bomber now serving life sentence in the US, is a mixed-race man, with a white mother and Jamaican father. Yet, would that mean he would stop white passengers just as he chose to stop me?

And I could have asked him: "What does a Muslim look like anyway?"

Does a Muslim look any of the hundreds of Asian doctors and other health service workers shown on television helping out the estimated 1,000 people wounded in the terror blasts?

Does a Muslim look like the Asian bus driver who was interviewed on television saying Londoners will not allow terrorists to beat them down?

Does a Muslim look like the thousands of Asians who work in London Underground, the tube system that the terrorists sought to blow up?

This question of the Muslim 'identity' came into focus Thursday when a community human rights activist advised Muslims to stay home for some time - especially women. He had in mind women who wear headscarves or burqas.

But back at Heathrow airport it was a bearded Asian man who was questioned by two heavily armed policemen as I stood waiting for a taxicab.

The man looked like he was from Afghanistan or Pakistan's North West Frontier Province. Of the 20-odd car drivers waiting to pick up passengers, he was the only one to be questioned.

I have always considered London to be the most multi-cultural, liberal-minded and cosmopolitan city on planet earth. But I also know that London is not Britain.

And, no matter where you live, the question of identity and allegiance - of who you are, of whether you are with 'us' or not in the battle against terror - is one that is being posed to men and women of colour more than others.

And that is a form of discrimination that I hope to see Britain fight and overcome.

(Dipankar De Sarkar is the IANS correspondent in London)

Anand has a very thought provoking view on this matter...check it out here...


Pallavi said...

just as i wrote on a blog.. the blasts are common in india... and well its just that when it happens there .. it is magnified so much :(

sathya said...

hi lavannya,
i will tell u something... england has been under attack several times before... london has been the target of god-knows-how-many IRA Belfast attacks. Its been there for so many days... but today when supposed islamic style attacks happen there is more outcry...
i am not saying islamic terrorism is justified but at some stage double standards

StaticCompost said...

I agree with you when you say the leaders of these two countries behave like children. Instead of launching invasion after invasion these leaders need to get to the root of the problem. Not only that they need to solve the existing problems in their own country. I think racial profiling is a serious, intensifying problem here in the US. People are having their phones tapped when they make calls to certain countries, being ominously interrogated after going to afghan restaurants. I remember I was in an airport and the security gaurds made a man unwrap his turban, angry the man responded "Iam not muslim, or even arab, Iam a Punjabi Sihk, you people need to learn that terrorists come from more then just one race, the Oklahoma bombings were commited by several Irish-Americans!" It saddens me to see this racial profiling. I think the real terrorist is George Bush, his term runs out in a few years, hopefully Americans will elect a wise leader who can repair how the rest ofthe world sees us, and our country.

sathya said...

addendum : lavannya posted a new short story do check maadi .. okies?

Prabu Karthik said...

Hi Lavannya,

this is exactly what I had in mind when i wrote two posts, 'Some are more equal than others' and 'Terrorism and cities.'

its a huge news when a western nation is attacked. But this is just routine in our JK and they could not care less.

Oh yeah they talk abt human rights "excesses".

But Abu Grahib is fine, though.

US and UK are getting a taste of their own medicine. Osama is a brain child of the US 2/3 decades back just like Saddam.

I have my sympathies with the US and UK people but the kind of atrocities US and UK govts had done to humanity is unpardonable.

Ravi said...

Hi Lavannya. Yes, I did read this article too. Pretty good, isn't it? Agree with your thoughts too.

dfg said...

I agree but not 100%
What i dont like is blaming muslims as a religion. bcos of few people who uses ISLAM as their weapon, we should not brand the whole muslim community.
bcos of these, the younger generation in UK and US are turning against the west. i have written something about this issue in my blog...have a read..

Anonymous said...

First, separate the US from the Bush administration and understand that he doesn't represent all Americans in how he handles problems. The same applies to Blair and the UK. If Clinton were in power, I suspect your response might be tempered.

As for the racist western countries, you are right that there IS a problem with that. A lot of uneducated people who don't know anything about anyone and accept what govts and security people tell them. BUT I'd venture to say that Asia - India too- is as xenophobic as the next country. All of these varied kinds of hate are exactly what terrorists want.

Secondly, how can you use "lol" in a post about what happened in London? That is appalling and shows a complete lack of sensitivity. If you live in place where these kinds of attacks are highly uncommon, it can be a shocking reality check. Your almost dripping sarcasm about 9/11 suggests you are not in touch with the realities of what people go through in an attack like this.

I would hope that if - where, Bangalore?- lost 3,000 people in a terror attack, the world would give aid and comfort. I for one think the world would have noticed. The US/UK also noticed when Asia was wrecked by the tsunami, so if it makes you feel better to simplify the situation so that "THEY" are bad and "WE" are good, I cannot argue with that mindset.

Forms of barbarism live everywhere, including India, the UK and the US. Do you know the saying about people who in glass houses? Read on:

And yes, this is anonymous for reasons I choose. You can press delete if you like. I have never posted on this blog before and I am not someone you know.

Shuuro said...

Well, in general i share your feelings on this issue. Even though i'm digressing here, but When i read your first paragraph "A big blast, terrorism for years, floods, famines, anything in any part of the world is not as great as it has to be when it happens in the US or to UK... " and in last line of your blog entry your wrote "Why? Why do we allow ourselves to be treated such? *very angry,frustrated, agitated*" , if you substitute these words with "rest of India" and "North Eastern states" in above sentences at appropriate places, then you will see parallels in terms of emotions expressed by our people from North-Eastern states, they have this sense of neglect by the center and few movements have started for this same reason. My point is at that individual level, no human being cares about others unless (s)he has some direct/indirect interest in other being and at wider perspective, same goes for societies or nations or civilizations or religions or races. none are righteous with few exceptions.

small squirrel said...

Lavannya, the fact that you might have had a point gets completely lost in rhetoric and pontificating here. You are right that Indians, Muslims, people of a certain skin color or race or creed get lumped together and blamed wrongly for things they had no part of. This is a serious issue.

But make no mistake, India is no different than any other country when it comes to one race or religion wronging another. Be careful when you throw stones here. Must I point out the coninuous violence between Hindus and Muslims that carries on even now?

To say the US and the UK rule the world is facile. It's hyperbole!

I think what made me angry here is you saying that the "US cried, screamed and begged for attention and security when it was hurt in the 9/11... the worst attack to its country or to its ego? (mind you its no more about people)"

This is an outrageous statement. I lived about a mile from the Pentagon. I lost coworkers in that attack. I had family working in the twin towers. I lived with the stench of death in my neighborhood for months. Don't tell me it was about ego. And we did not beg cry or scream... this is just facile. I do not agree with the war in Iraq, but you need to be careful when you make statements like this. It's not just rhetoric about a government's choices that you might not agree with. You're talking about something that HAPPENED TO INNOCENT PEOPLE.

And to ridicule the UK at a time like this shows that you do not know what it is like to live through such horror.

I am not saying that there is no place for criticism. What I am saying is that you do it humanely and you do it without hyperbole and rhetoric. I am sure there are things to be learned by this whole mess and people needlessly dying on all sides. BUt failing to see the whole picture is not the way to do it.

None said...

yeah, the hypocrisy in the whole attitude sucks. if there are terror attacks in the us/uk, it is cause for concern, but what about terror attacks on our parliament or the latest, ayodhya temple? all that, unfortunately have no place in the terror quotient of the world. i hate the way the west behaves like we dont exist except when/(if) we kill.


Ravi said...

Ramya, you are very right when you say that US/UK set different standards for themselves and the rest of the world. But I still wonder why most countries (including India) still cannot raise on its own. Most countries never seem to miss a chance to impress upon US. Maybe unless the 'other' countries tend to give up their hysteria/awe (we still seem to get carried over by the 'foreign' factor), the bossing-over by US/UK will never tend to cease.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lavannya,
It's true that western media pay much attention to what happens in their countries.And unfortunately this leads to more racism.But remember, if you have kith and kin living nearby your attitude would be entirely different;I checked the indian blogs in UK.
Terrorism is so deep-rooted in frustrated individuals that they want to throw their lives away along with those of innocent people.The policy makers should listen to the grievances of the downtrodden instead of playing sorcerer's apprentice

StaticCompost said...

I read your post again and I thought I would give a second input. I agree with you when you say terrorism and other horrible things happen all over the world but when they happen in the US or UK its a big deal. I think your right, but when I watched my city(New York) burn, When I watched a commercial jet fly into a building full of thousands of people, When I saw my fellow New Yorkers running for their lives I felt angry. I felt a new sense of pride and nationalism that I had never felt, I wanted my nation to retaliate. This wasn't an attack on our ego, this was an attack on people: living, breathing, hard woking, everday Americans. An attack on our ego would have been bombing the statue of liberty. A jet full of people was crashed into a building full of people that lay in a city full of people. Im not a proud patriot, but when innocent people with no governmental standing fall victim to heinous acts like this its not about ego, its about the lives that were slain. I didn't care what it was supposed to be an attack on, or what the people responsible's message was, for me it was about the people that died.

perspective said...

Static Compost: I know what you're talking about. I never said that i dont feel bad for all those who lost their lives and their loved ones. The people of any country are always the victims of what their political leaders do and device.
I remember feeling horrible when i saw that crash myself. I feel terrible for the fear that exists today within every citizen in UK today... I do.

But here i am focussing on the Leaders, the country... and trust me however you want a country to be about the people that live in it, it always comes across to others in its view of the constitution, belief systems of the politicians, and such policies...

I would like to ask your forgiveness if you believe i am attacking individuals here... i am not.

I am talking of policies and hypocrisy.

Squirrel: i understand your rage. I accept it. Therefore i wont respond to it.

This is a public blog, all individuals are free to express themselves. I write only for that!

Thank you all for sharing your views.

Anonymous said...

hi lavannya,
the IANS article is fine in itself, portraying how it is tough to be accepted in an alien land but have we ever considered how most of indian muslims have to keep proving their loyalty to our nation each time there is the slightest hint of trouble? i am not condoning what happened in heathrow but this happens all the time in our own backyard.

Ubermensch said...

Came here after referred by a friend;i must say the views expressed here was best summed up by squirrel ''faling to see the whole picture''.
long way to go....

Ubermensch said...

thought ill just add this regarding the IANs article;
They are justified in a sense to be more cautious with asians for security checks.and we all know the reason, yesterday it was irish may be tomorrow it wud be chechnyans or chinese or someone else.we have nothing against you ,just against you being one of fanatics.that is all.
i wonder where such sentiment drown when white women sunbathing in goa are gazed at shamelessly hours together by hordes of indian men ?
was in goa recently ,dont say it doesnt happen.

perspective said...

Thank you Ubermensch for taking the trouble for coming by, reading and expressing your views. Appreciate it.

StaticCompost said...

Don't worry Lavannya, perhaps it was a simple mis-communication. You can't define the word "American" We are all so radically different. As a New Yorker Iam so different then people that come from the south or other parts of the country. Iam very different then a Texan, like our president. I hate for him to be our representative because he does not represent accuratley who we are, one man cannot do that.

perspective said...

Yes staticcompost... very much like how indians are potrayed to the outsiders...
Either its a country with rivalry between muslims and hindus...which is so untrue... its on such a political level...and so not existent at the micro society level...

Or we are thought of people who still ride elephants!! Our scriptures and old manuscripts are researched over, and explored for many reasons...

Who are Indians then? They ARE represented by their leaders, we chose them... Bad or good... its the reality! and that's the sad part.

We are citizens of our own countries lack that responsibility...We MUST choose a correct leader! Or become THE leader!


Ubermensch said...

you are very welcome perspective,
im pleased to see you take it in the right spirit.
Have a good weekend!

Pallavi said...

i feel the story hardly makes any point.. the author is just exaggerating his viewpoint... that was hardly an incident..!!
he felt so emotionally outraged just cause he was singled out..???!! people have died due to racial discrimination... and what happened to him was result of some apprehensiveness... no big deal..

everybody have their own fears... instead of spreading his bitterness, if this chap had tried to understand the situation sensibly and been more relaxed and supportive of the whole situation, i think it would help in reducing the cords of tension..