Egypt's stocks close in red on Monday as benchmark EGX 30 dips 0.07%    Egypt's stocks start week higher, benchmark EGX 30 gains 0.48%    Fitch affirms Egypt's long-term foreign currency issuer default rating at B+    The unvaccinated prohibited from entry to Egypt state institutions starting December 1    Russia to lift COVID restrictions on flights to Egypt's Red Sea resorts on Nov. 9    Egypt, Greece ink deal for first subsea power link between Europe and Africa    Egypt hosts regional conference of EU refugee agency EASO    SCOHRE sparks discussion on harm reduction, tobacco control    Egypt to receive first of six high-trains from Spain's Talgo in mid-November    Egypt's iron and steel exports jump 197% in 8 months    Ethiopia halts work at its embassy in Egypt for 'economic reasons'    It's a bit frustrating to draw at home: Real Madrid keeper after Villarreal game    Russia says it's in sync with US, China, Pakistan on Taliban    Shoukry reviews with Guterres Egypt's efforts to achieve SDGs, promote human rights    Sudan says countries must cooperate on vaccines    Over 100 officials resign from Tunisia's main Islamist party    Johnson & Johnson: Second shot boosts antibodies and protection against COVID-19    Egypt to tax bloggers, YouTubers    Egyptian court bans use of mosques for political purposes    Brazil calls up 8 EPL players for World Cup qualifying    Refugees in fear as sentiment turns against them in Turkey    We mustn't lose touch: Muller after Bayern win in Bundesliga    Egypt records 36 new deaths from Covid-19, highest since mid June    Egypt sells $3 bln US-dollar dominated eurobonds    Sisi calls on House, Senate to commence second legislative sessions on 3, 5 October    Huawei Technologies has invested $10 mln over 5 years in innovation centres in Egypt    Gamal Hanafy's ceramic exhibition at Gezira Arts Centre is a must go    Italian Institute Director Davide Scalmani presents activities of the Cairo Institute for ITALIANA.IT platform    Qa'a play showing at Lycee El Horreya Theatre, Alexandria is a must go    Orange Egypt Introduces Amazon Prime Video    Tokyo Olympics: Cautious opening ceremony, shy start for Egyptians in competitions    Mallawi Museum in Upper Egypt holds recycling workshop for children during Eid Al-Adha    Egypt keen on stable tax policies to attract more investors: Finance Minister    Sudan declares state of emergency as water goes beyond Merowe Dam capacity    Niagara Falls illuminated in Egyptian flag to mark 23 July Revolution anniversary    Capital flows into EM keep recovering after March 2020 slump: Central Bank of Egypt    1 child orphaned every 12 seconds due to COVID-19-associated death: World Bank    Egypt, Japanese Olympic Committee discuss boosting sports cooperation    US emphasises AU's role in mediating Ethiopian damdispute    Ethiopia ready to resume dam talks with no legally binding agreements: Ethiopian official    Sunken city of Thônis-Heracleion in Egypt's Abu Qir bay yields new archaeological treasures    New films, concerts, and destinations for Eid Al-Adha holidays    Egypt, Oman discuss enhancing bilateral economic, investment relations    Al Ahly v Kaizer Chiefs: Cairo giants eye 10th CAF Champions League title    Tunisia hopes to have a UN role in resolving Egypt-Ethiopia dam dispute    APO Group enters new exclusive agreement with Getty Images on African press releases and images    On International Museum Day, Egypt opens two new museums at Cairo Airport    Old Cairo's Al-Fustat will be revamped on Egyptian President's directives    

Thank you for reporting!
This image will be automatically disabled when it gets reported by several people.

Democracy at risk
Published in Ahram Online on 09 - 02 - 2021

Violence book ends the first two decades of the century. First, the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 claimed the lives of almost 3,000 innocents. Secondly, the 6 January 2021 storming of the US Capitol took its own unique toll on American life. Though vastly different, 9/11 and 1/6 both hit us hard.
In over four decades I've lived in Washington, no other events so dramatically impacted the daily life of people in my city. They left us stunned, violated and vulnerable. In the wake of each attacks, we witnessed unprecedented security measures that left parts of Washington looking as though we were under military control. What we had taken for granted could not be longer assured.
A significant difference between the two attacks was the reaction of lawmakers and political leaders. Because the perpetrators of 9/11 were foreigners and the death toll was so staggering, Americans were generally unified. In response to the state of insecurity, Democrats and Republicans in Congress joined forces to expand the reach of law enforcement. In many cases, this meant violating constitutionally protected rights while contributing little to protecting Americans from future attacks.
In the process, thousands of Arab and Muslim immigrants were deported without due process. Thousands more were profiled, denied access to flights, and lost employment and housing opportunities. And the door was opened to intrusive and unwarranted surveillance of Arab citizens and residents – with bipartisan support.
After an exhaustive investigation, a congressionally created commission concluded that the terrorists were not homegrown but were sent here on an evil mission to take the lives of as many Americans as possible. They kept largely to themselves and had no domestic support base. It also became clear that, had the various US intelligence agencies communicated with one another, they might have been able to avert the disaster.
Instead of placing the blame where it belonged, Republicans and Democrats continued to support legislation and practices that singled out Arabs and Muslims, however – as if they had been the cause of the attacks. As a result, many in these communities lived in fear, feeling that segments of the larger public had become suspicious of them. Hate crimes multiplied, as did acts of outright discrimination.
During the decade after 9/11, accelerating after Barack Obama's election, the GOP continued to prey on this fear of Arabs and Muslims, exploiting it as a partisan issue in successive election cycles. It was the Republicans' growing use of anti-Muslim sentiment that paved the way for Donald Trump's xenophobic campaign for the presidency.
Unlike 9/11, the 1/6 insurrection and violent assault on the Capitol was a domestic affair – with several far right and anti-government militias coordinating it. As we now know, law enforcement anticipated violence before the inauguration, but appeared unprepared for the magnitude of disruption. As throngs of violent rioters stormed the building, officials were slow to respond, leaving the ill-equipped Capitol police to fend for themselves.
It was traumatising to witness scenes of armed thugs storming the halls of Congress, shattering windows to gain entrance, vandalising offices, beating police and terrorising members. Even more shocking was the fact that this violent insurrection was incited by the president, his son, his attorney and congressmen with the express purpose of overturning the results of the election.
After the National Guard and several area police departments arrived on the scene, the Capitol was cleared, leaving in its wake five dead and dozens wounded as well as significant property damage, and a nation in shock. In the aftermath of this violent insurrection, some guardsmen remained deployed to secure the Capitol and other federal sites.
Despite the trauma of seeing a symbol of our democracy under attack, initial indications of national unity were short-lived. Republicans who supported Trump's claim of electoral fraud initially recoiled in horror at the violence and condemned the former president's behaviour. A few days later, however, these same partisans were once again backing Trump. While 9/11 brought us together, 1/6 appears to have done the opposite.
After 9/11, I was struck by how many commentators and political leaders foolishly claimed that the terrorist attack posed an “existential threat” to our country. That was nonsense. Neither Al-Qaeda's ideology nor the attack's massive toll ever challenged our guiding values. If anything, it was the discriminatory counterterrorism policies driving our endless “war on terror” that posed the existential threat to our country. More disturbing is how rarely the term “existential threat” is used to describe the assault on our democracy by Republican politicians and white supremacist thugs – when that is exactly what it was.
With 70 per cent of Trump voters still believing the election results were fraudulent and little, if any, repercussions for those who incited the violent insurrection seeking to overturn the results of a lawful election, we are facing an existential crisis of historic proportions. With 9/11, our security and rights were put at risk. With 1/6, it is our very democracy that is threatened.
The writer is president of the Arab American Institute.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 11 February , 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

Clic here to read the story from its source.