Looking back at 9/11, Belgian media question effectiveness of anti-terror war
While extensive commemorations are being held on Monday in the United States and elsewhere in the world to mark the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, many Belgian newspapers questioned the legitimacy of continuing to pursue the so-called war on terror and urged politicians to re-focus on development instead of destruction.
Almost all of Belgium's major newspapers on Monday ran 9/11-related stories on their front pages and covered remembrance services held in Belgium and other parts of the world. One of the services was due to take place at the American Embassy in Brussels on Monday afternoon, and is to be attended by Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt.
In their editorials, many newspapers pointed to the apparent failure to produce a safer and more harmonized world by the so-called war on terror.
Flemish daily Het Belang van Limburg reviewed the war in Afghanistan, Iraq and the countless attacks since the 2001 hijackings. It said many of the alleged links to Islamic terrorists turned out to be false.
The newspaper said it was "time for Europe to act", suggesting that the continent could reach a pact with the Middle East nations to fight the many wrongs and the hopeless poverty in the region.
Similar opinion appeared on the De Standaard newspaper, which said the more pressing issue was the elimination of poverty rather than terrorism.
Its editorial said the significance of the 9/11 attacks should be put into perspective. It said 9/11 killed close to 3,000 people while hunger killed 17,000 children every day.
The paper said war did nobody any good, as was proved once again in the latest conflict in Lebanon. The world needed to handle the poverty problem first by helping and supporting democracy as well as promoting development, the paper said.
"It is now time to build up hope and build on what was destroyed earlier," it added.
Het Nieuwsblad questioned what the battle against terrorism had yielded five years after 9/11.
The paper described terror as a powerful weapon in the hands of unscrupulous manipulators which helped them mobilize the desperate. "Terror is an illness, a feverish attack on an insane world that needs to be treated," it said.
The paper preferred reconstruction to destruction. It said the president of the world's largest superpower should be less biased and act more constructively.
Another daily, Het Volk, rejected the rationale behind the war on terror. It said the continuing war against terror, combined with biased thinking, "will only lead to a war between the West and the Islamic world which is just what Bin Laden wanted in the first place".
The paper called for a halt to the global battle, first led by an immediate withdrawal of all foreign troops from Iraq.
Gazet van Antwerpen daily, meanwhile, said it was important to get over the shock and scare of terrorist attacks, and maintain a normal life.
Holding a "life goes on" outlook was of much greater significance than the attacks themselves, it said.
La Libre Belgique turned the microscope toward Belgium itself, saying the country was not without blame in the spread of terrorism.
It said Belgium frequently functioned as a hiding place for terrorists and many young extremists for the Jihad were recruited here.
"Let's point the finger at ourselves first", concluded the paper.
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