Good Rising from the horror.(COMMENTARY)
Byline: Rasheed Abou-Alsamh, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES
One year after the tragic attacks on New York City and the Pentagon, it may come as a surprise to many Americans but in a strange way the attacks have brought good to Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Muslim world.
You wouldn't come to this conclusion if you focused on only one segment of the Saudi press devoted to bewailing the vicious American attacks on the kingdom and Islam in the press and on television. Read more closely, and you will find voices of moderation rising up and saying: "Enough is enough."
The horrific attacks by Mohamed Atta and the 14 other hijackers who were Saudis, have brought the whole Saudi nation to a crucial crossroads: Either keep ignoring the harm done to Islam and all Muslims by a minority of violent extremists or grasp this rare opportunity to take our society into a new direction, and also to explain the peacefulness and beauty of Islam to the whole world.
Unfortunately, most Saudis have not been in the habit of thinking for themselves, being analytical or being insightful. From an early age, Saudis are taught to memorize facts in school and not question authority or ask "what if?"
This has become a major stumbling block for our nation at this time when our oil wealth has been steadily decreasing since the peak of the 1980s. With an astronomical birthrate, Saudi Arabia is producing more and more people clamoring for jobs that are scarce. The fabulous wealth that oil brought us, and that has enabled us to develop spectacularly in the last 30 years, has also been a curse lulling too many of us into complacency.
This same complacency leads many of us to vehemently denying the criticism we hear of our society coming from America. But I think we are reacting so violently because the criticism is hitting home very hard. What many don't realize is that we have given foreigners the chance to criticize us because of the September 11 attacks on America. Before September 11, 2001, there was occasional grumbling about the way women are treated in the kingdom, but this didn't jeopardize our relations with the United States because the U.S. needed our oil and we had never attacked them.
Today it's a totally different story. Everything done or said by Saudis is now examined under a very strong microscope in the U.S.: The way we treat foreigners, our educational system and our form of governance are all being dissected and analyzed by angry Americans who want to know why the U.S. was attacked last year and what sort of society produced 15 of the 19 hijackers.
To overcome this immense crisis, one that the kingdom has never faced before, we must begin to right the wrongs in our society and also show the world our many positive attributes and achievements.
It will be a long and rocky road, but it is a journey we must undertake if we want to be proud once again of ourselves, and if we want to remain independent.
First, we must stop denying any of the hijackers were Saudis or even Arab. …