ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
9/11 and Asian MuslimsBy David Swartzemtruber
When former Malaysian premier Mahathir Mohamad reiterated on his blog on Thursday his belief that Arab Muslims are incapable of carrying out the 9/11 attacks, it is true that many in Asia hold that view.
After a decade-long US-led war on terror, many in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, Indonesia still subscribe to conspiracy theories that the US government — not only Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda — played a part in the attacks.
The believers of this doctrine, very much like those who believe that the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy was a plot, are not just extremists or militants.
They point to the collapse of World Trade Center building number 7 — a 47-story building that was not hit by either of the two planes.
The rejection of the US version of 9/11 among regular Indonesians, for some, seems to be linked more to how Muslims were treated after the incident than to any leanings toward radicalism. Some believe a few elites in the US government were involved in the incident for which innocent Muslims have been forced to suffer the consequences.
It is difficult to estimate how many Asian Muslims subscribe to such conspiracy theories. Others don’t put as much importance into the conspiracy theories.
Slamet Effendy Yusuf, deputy chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia’s largest Islamic organization, said Indonesians should not concern themselves with conspiracy theories, as they could only heighten conflicts between Islam and the West.
Both sides must work together toward tolerance and understanding, he said. “There should be a change in how the West sees Islam. There should be no more Islamophobia. And at the same time, Muslims must also be able to socially adapt with the Westerners when they move there. Conspiracy theories will lead to nothing but further hatred and conflict.”
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