Thinking global, living local: Voices in a globalized world

Unconcerned by 9/11? Think again!

Written by on . Published in Ten years on future challenges bloggers on a post 9-11 world on , .

My skin is milk-white. I am from Eastern Europe. I am a successful student in Paris, France and I have nothing in common with a North-African girl with her lively French punctuated by Arabic words and her curly hair, often shyly hidden under a veil. I am anything but concerned by what happened on September 11.

Ain’t I?

Such individualities brutally coagulated into the solid, rigid block of “Muslims” – therefore potentially violent, thus probably jihadists – are everywhere around me. I meet them at the university, we buy the same cornflakes in the supermarket, we take the same noisy crowded train every day after work. A few are friends, it feels good having tea with them after an exhausting day of lectures. But the majority of them are just people I don’t know anything about. The fact is though that they have become “the enemy within”. Overnight people who were just living their lives have become terrorists.

But I see something else: myself and others of my age have spent 10 years of our young adult lives under various emergency laws and a regime of institutionalized racism, 10 years of carefully instilled fear of the Other, this cursed Muslim otherness, criminally justified by Huntington’s “clash of civilizations.” Only one month after 9/11, Bush’s government voted the Patriot Act, that carte blanche for feds to commit any illegal acts in the name of security, for psychological pressure and unlimited custody based on simple suspicion.

In France, the “plan Vigipirate” has become permanent: armed soldiers patrolling among civilians in train stations have become a standard part of everyday life even though a state of emergency has never been proclaimed. Do you feel secure with these guys hanging around with loaded Famas guns? Do you find it normal that policemen in the streets stop North African people to check their IDs only because these people have dark skins? Even though I am a foreigner in France – and thus equally likely to be controlled – I have never been asked to show my ID. In the métro you are politely asked to report “any item that might seem suspicious” and a forgotten bag leads to the closure of a whole line.

In the sacred name of anti-terrorism, cops dissect phone bills, passports have become biometric and the newest French identity cards will soon contain a RFID chip with all your personal biometric data on it, ensuring that citizens are under total surveillance without knowing it. As stated in the related law, this data will be collected from 45 million “honest French people” and stored in a centralized national biometrical database. This new ID card may also include a second chip, a smart card with a “unique digital signature” that identifies you on e-commerce websites. The data from such commercial transactions will be collected by the Ministry of Interior. The citizen is now an integrally traceable alleged offender with no choice but to obey the panoptic control of CCTV cameras and “security” gates which beep so very often – even in the museums. Say Cheese! You are videoprotected…

You are concerned. Even if you think 9/11 is just a very high-level political conflict quite beyond your comprehension or just a local issue, you should wake up and begin working to counteract ordinary everyday state terrorism. “1984” was fiction, not a “how-to-do-it” manuel.

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Rayna Stamboliyska Twitter: MaliciaRogue

PhD, research fellow at Paris Descartes University // CEO at RS Strategy // Geek & DIYbio hacker // working to achieve gender equality in science & tech // former research assistent for Unesco // human rights activist // Editor for Global Voices Bulgarian & Bioinfo-fr.net // Author for Al-Jazeera English, Nature Middle East & Jadaliyya // Science blogger for Nature's SciLogs.com and Australian Science // board member of the French chapter of the Open Knowledge Foundation // human being Between Bulgaria, Egypt & France I tweet under @MaliciaRogue I write Learn more about me

Comments

  • Sherif

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    Unfortunately the story continues. Security authorities prepare for classification methods to trace and select individuals depending on their race and behavior. They are supported with many new inventions making such methods nowadays possible which had been thought to be impossible before. Thinking about new immigrates checked by complex family search procedures including even the sociological history of their family members, or peaceful passengers flying over the ocean being checked and unfairly classified in the security check points, all making us to think thoroughly if we prepare for a more secure world or to a terrifying one!!!

    The money pushed for such developments can better help to make the world a happier place if it were put in the education and the “know-your-neighbors”-like programs.

    Reply

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