Online fear and anger

September 21, 2001

Last week's devastating attacks on the United States sparked some of the most active and passionate debate ever seen on the internet.

The THES received some thoughtful messages and some angry ones. Several reminded us that the young generation must now face the possibility of war.

Lyndon Morant, a 17-year-old school student in Croydon, Surrey, wrote: "I feel ashamed to be part of a race of individuals that can perform such heart-rending acts of violence towards each other. There should never be an incident when the life of a human being is taken without due cause... War is hell."

For Mike Hulme, a climatologist at the University of East Anglia, last week's events were a sad addition to the list of our planet's problems:

"For the connected global village the enemy is indeed now within - a 'war' against terrorism is a 'war' against ourselves, a civil war. Individual nation states are as impotent in this regard as they are in the fight to slow global warming. The US will discover both of these truths, unfortunately one sooner than the other."

There were accusations that the media had operated a double standard. Stephen Dickinson wrote: "Funny, I haven't heard or read a single reference to the tragedy in New York as 'collateral damage'. Perhaps it is only the slaughter of civilians in countries such as Palestine and Iraq which qualify for use of the term!" To which John Beggs replied: "There was no collateral damage in NYC or the District of Columbia area, because the intention was to inflict pain and terror alone. There were only victims."

Shamim Hanif, from Oldham College, wrote: "I am a 25-year-old Muslim. What I saw on Tuesday was something I would never have dreamed could occur to a nation that leads the 'free world'.

"I went to Kashmir last year and talked to people who experience terror every day of their lives, yet we have never seen the horrendous mass murders in Kashmir televised.

"I was appalled by Tuesday's events. I have friends in New York and I pray every day for the safety of the firemen working around the rubble. Islam teaches us to live in peace with one another. No religion teaches terrorism."

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