YRS AFTER SEPT 11,
FINDING PEACE BY FORCE
ANDREW IYERE ABULU
Saidıs Tears of Fatimah won the 2002 FORETELL International Writing
Prize.Little did she know that she was truly predicting the future.
Based on her true story and a 20-year projection into the American
future, being determined by existing realities, she shows how new
anti-terrorism laws and strategies, while tackling the problem of
security, generate a barrage of new challenges.
Sunset At Dawn (From Tears of Fatimah by Aisha Said)
The events of Tuesday, September 11 2001 changed my life forever. I was
in my babys nursery assembling the new crib my husband bought the
day before, when I heard a deafening bang. I was 36weeks pregnant and
since the baby was not due till another month, I was courageous enough
to pull myself downstairs to find out what the noise was. I had barely
opened the front door when the second explosion came. As I screamed my
way outside, all I could think about was my husband. Amin worked on the
99th floor of the New York Trade Center as a Network Engineer and it was
our 9th year in America. When the news came 45 minutes later that the
Twin Towers were crumbling I went into premature labour. Fatimah was born
that evening through a caesarian section. I did not have the luxury of
mourning my lost or dead husband not because his body was never found
but because the next few weeks saw threats, curses and abuses from hostile
neighbors and passers-by. Hate crimes against Arabs and Muslim communities
continued to increase. I was so afraid for my life and my daughters
that I went back to Oman a month later.
While most people around the world will remember the horrific attacks
of September 11 2001 as the darkest day of the year, for me I could still
feel the heat of the smoke that clouded my life. Not only did I lose my
husband but also my daughter was born premature and stateless.
For the next 20 years I tried to return to my life in America but new
laws kept pouring out to deny my baby and I our right of abode. In 2005
I set up a web site. 'You and I are one dot com' was set up to let the
American people know who the Arab truly is and to help Arab Americans
who were discriminated against because of their race. Many Arab American
immigrants had been "illegally" arrested, detained and deported
based on secret evidence, which is derived from the Anti-Terrorism Act
of 1996. Though the Secret Evidence Repeal Act was passed in 2000, it
did not effect the release of any Secret Evidence victim.
IS AMERICA ACTUALLY SAFER NOW?
In 2002, 2% of the American population were Arabs and now 20 years after,
the number has decreased from 4 million to 3 million. Despite this fact,
the feeling of insecurity in America continues to grow. Like they say
in Oman, "If you hurt people around you, even your shadow will scare
Out of 21 separate Arab nations, the U.S. and U.N. only recognize 19 of
them, while America is only on "friendly" terms with about 16
of them. Most Arab Americans are admitted under refugee or asylum status.
The word "Arab" refers to those who speak the Arabic language,
however almost every country's version of Arabic is different from another's.
The people should rightly be called Middle Easterners not Muslims or Moslems,
who have a religious association with Islam. Most but not all Arabs are
Muslims and not all Muslims are Arabs; several Arabs are Christians, many
are Hindu, and some are Atheists.
Omani immigrants were one of the wealthiest groups of Arab immigrants.
Citizens of Oman Sultanate generally enjoy good living conditions, but
we have had a history of civil war and the fear of our oil reserve running
out has forced us to seek the "golden fleece" elsewhere.
Stereotyping of Arab-Americans is mostly negative. The Western image of
the Arab is that of comic book tales, harem dwellers, and sheikhs. The
facts are that harems and polygamy have been abolished, for the most part,
in the Arab world, and only a small number of Arab nations still have
"sheikhs". The Arab image has been continuously depicted on
TV and in movies as evil or foolish.
With the scare of anthrax-contaminated offices of members of Congress
and confronted with warnings that more terrorist assaults were imminent,
Congress overwhelmingly approved the Uniting and Strengthening America
by providing appropriate tools required to intercept and obstruct terrorism;
better known by its acronym, the USA PATRIOT Act. It was the beginning
of the "Extra Terror-stial Age". The era of uneasy calm and
fear of the unknown.
Within 2 months of the September 11 2001 bombings, the Department of Justice
(DOJ) admitted to detaining more than 1,100 immigrants, not one of whom
has been charged with committing a terrorist act and only a handful of
whom were being held as material witnesses to the September 11 hijackings.
The USA PATRIOT Act conferred vast and unchecked powers to the executive
branch and as the Center For Constitutional Rights put it, "To an
unprecedented degree, the Act sacrifices our political freedoms in the
name of national security and upsets the democratic values that define
our nation by consolidating vast new powers in the executive branch of
government. The Act enhances the executive's ability to conduct surveillance
and gather intelligence, places an array of new tools at the disposal
of the prosecution, including new crimes, enhanced penalties, and longer
statutes of limitations, and grants the Immigration and Naturalization
Service (INS) the authority to detain immigrants suspected of terrorism
for lengthy, and in some cases indefinite, periods of time. And at the
same time that the Act inflates the powers of the executive, it insulates
the exercise of these powers from meaningful judicial and Congressional
The Act was actually directed at Arabs just like The Black Codes Of Mississippi
of the 1860s during the post American Civil War Reconstruction period
was against freed slaves. After the Civil War, States such as Mississippi,
passed laws prohibiting "vagrancy," "misspending"
one's money, and staying outdoors too late because many Southerners feared
that their former slaves would demand social equality and would refuse
to work, thereby crippling the economy. With these "black codes"
in place, freed slaves often ended up living in conditions little better
than those they had experienced under slavery. America was making the
same mistakes all over again where hate between the races will create
mistrust and disloyalty.
America, a nation of immigrants, traditionally described as a melting
pot whose greatness was achieved by the combination of diverse ideas and
cultures was at the threshold of shutting itself off from the rest of
In 2002/3, President George W. Bush created the mega-agency, The Department
of Homeland Security. 170,000 federal employees from 22 different agencies
including the CIA, FBI, INS, the Customs, the Coast Guard, FEMA, DEA and
other food safety agencies were fused into a huge one-stop shop for preventing
and responding to attacks against America. The creation of this cabinet-level
agency was the most significant transformation of the U.S. government
in over 50 years. Directly under the control of the President, the department
could literarily do anything.
However, many feared that there will be infringements on citizens
liberties and many may surrender their freedom and that this may contribute
to a deeper sense of insecurity. They also maintain that violence and
terrorism have deep causes whose roots are economic, social, political,
cultural, ecological and psychological. Terrorism is not in a race or
religion, like murder it is potentially in us all, appropriate stimuli
could trigger its action. The surest way therefore to ensure a just, peaceful
and sustainable world is to carry everybody along; even the terrorists;
because one mans terrorist, as they say, "Is another mans
20 years after the creation of the new department resulting in billions
of Dollars over-budgeting, America still lives with the fear that there
are many trained killers waiting to strike. I guess this proves that "costly
weapons dont make good soldiers".
A new security strategy based on the principle of Low Tech. and High Concept
titled Freedom of Non-Association adopted in 2019 has only succeeded in
creating a society of uneasy calm. In this new program, people are encouraged
to stay off the streets and transact businesses and schooling via electronic
media instead of physical travel. TV and radio jingles are used to "advise"
people that they are safer at home than on the streets. The idea is to
monitor the few on the move via satellite and arrest any suspicious persons.
The Homeland Security Bill was signed into law today by G.W. Bush 11.25.2002
Andrew Abulu - A Futurologist and computer programmer /graphic designer
working on new GSM phones- he lives in Nigeria
Example of Andrew's graphic work
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