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Can the UN cope with the dangers of terrorism?  

By Jamal Hasan

That was the subject of a discussion session hosted by the local chapter of United Nations Association USA. The venue was Unitarian Universalist Church in Bethesda , Maryland . And the day was Sunday, the 17th of October.  

Being a member of Maryland chapter of UNA-USA, I thought it was my moral duty to attend the association conference once in a while. But getting out of work place in a dark evening environment usually deters me to join any gathering. This Sunday I thought I should not miss the opportunity. After all, 1 PM is the most suitable time for a day dream believer, or what?  

I came to the Church vicinity early. The small crowd was almost evolving. Most of the attendees seemed to be old age. One of the organizers of the association greeted me with open arms. His wife was noticeably carrying a Kerry-Edwards label. I started a conversation with her. I told her quite frankly that I was probably one of the few undecided voters in the crowd. The lady did not appreciate my comment I felt. She said, the seminar might convince me to decide on a certain candidate.

Like in a typical American Unitarian church setting, the attendees appeared to be pacifists and anti-war. I felt they had leanings to Democratic party. The panelists comprised of three individuals. They were Ambassador Jonathan Dean, Immediate Past President of the UN Association of National Capital Area, Curtis Ward, Jamaican Ambassador to the UN - 2000-2001 and Anne Martin, Former Director of the Readiness Division- Federal Emergency Management Agency.  

The meeting started almost on time. I tried to grasp the perspectives of the speakers. Ambassador Dean in his written speech strived to give a rosy picture of the world of terrorism. He downplayed the danger of Islamic terrorism. Not only that, he attempted to show that there was lack of linkage between al-Qaeda and various indigenous Islamist groups in countries like Algeria . One important point that he posed struck me boldly. He said that some Islamists in the scientific field would gradually come to a stage where scientific inquisitiveness and belief system might collide and thus the belief system could get diluted. During the question and answer session, I raised the point to Ambassador Dean. In my short statement, I gave the example of liberal Pakistani scholar and nuclear scientist Pervez Hoodbhoy's essay. In that essay, Professor Hoodbhoy mentioned about a few Pakistani Islamist nuclear scientist who wanted to utilize "the energy of genies" by reciting Koranic verses. I also mentioned the name of Mohammad Atta whose studies in scientific field did not alter his dogmatic world view. In conclusion I mentioned there was careful and deliberate compartmentalization of Muslim mind where one area was kept for rational scientific thoughts and the other area was kept intact for irrational religious mumbo jumbos. I was amused to see Ambassador Dean did not object to my points. Rather he said, "Very good point".  

While driving back home, I realized that many Westerners failed to understand the mindset of a devoted Muslim. In our day to day activism, we encounter a good number of die-hard Muslims who come from the field of medical science, engineering and computer science.  Even today many of them believe that black stone in the Ka'ba came from heaven and water of Zumzum could cure all ailments. In fact, in the Muslim world, superstition and blind belief system is very much prevalent. A typical person from secular West may not be aware of this plain truth.  

 

 

 

 

 

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