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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

September First Rain

This morning the rain fell. First time after 3 months. Bit windy and so grey. Two unhappy news bothered me since yesterday. Last night, I heard a sad news, my colleague's father passed away. He's been a nice father even to me, his son's friend.

Yesterday, I've got an e-mail from my best friend and sister, Lily. And this was shocked me after reading it. I don't have acsess to media, therefore, by posting this at least showing my sincere sympathy to our beloved friend, Maryati. Here's the e-mail:

"I present this article with my deep symphthy to Maryati in Melbourne.


Falsely Accused of Terrorism
A chilling aspect of the global war on terror

Lily Yulianti

Just two weeks before the fifth anniversary of 9/11, I found my friend's name in the headline of a local newspaper published in Makassar, Indonesia. The paper quoted an Australian newspaper saying that she was allegedly linked to Jamaah Islamiyah, an Islamic organization linked to many terror attacks such as the Bali Bombings in 2002 and 2004.

By simply glancing at the headlines and not going on to carefully read the whole story, anyone could have concluded that my friend Maryati Idris was a terrorist. I talked about the incident with her other friends and we agreed that this kind of media coverage has become a terror to anyone who is carelessly accused of being a terrorist or having links with terror organizations.

Every morning commuters scan through headlines on their way to work, in too much of a rush to read the stories properly. When surfing the Internet we often jump from one online media to another, taking in many of the headlines without pausing to read the whole story.

I have read many such headlines in the years since 9/11 took place. When the incident happened I was watching the live-reports in my small apartment in Melbourne, Australia, and on the very next day I was frightened by the fact that the reports linked the attacks with what they called Islamic terrorists.

I am a Muslim, and I am easily identified as a Muslim woman because I wear a headscarf. The first week after the incident, people at work and at university carefully told me to anticipate any unpredictable responses on the streets, targeting Muslim people. Although Melbourne is a multicultural city, there had already been several small incidents of anger directed at local Muslims.

The University of Melbourne, where I was studying at the time, offered an evening shuttle bus service to Muslim students in order to ensure their safety after class.

Five years later, I was sitting in a smaller apartment in Tokyo reading the headline about my friend Maryati Idris. Her husband, Jack Thomas was charged by the Australian Court of having a link to Al Qaeda while he studied Islam in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Although Jack Thomas was cleared of all allegations, stories about his family continued to appear in the media. The local newspaper that I read outlined Maryati's life in extensive detail, such as which schools she had attended in Makassar, and so on.

By quoting the Aug. 30 edition of The Australian, which said that Mr. Thomas's marriage to Maryati was the beginning of his link with Jamaah Islamiyah, a local newspaper in Makassar, her hometown, provided a sensational headline to its readers.

Later on that day I learned that the accusation was a mistake and that the Indonesian Foreign Ministry had clarified that she was clean. There was no strong evidence and on the next day the newspaper printed this fact. But does the media really care about the psychological impact the story had on her and her family?

I am very sure that her parents and other relatives in Makassar have borne a huge burden in having to explain to everybody that she has nothing to do with any terror attacks or terrorist activities. It must have been very difficult after Maryati's reputation was damaged by such a sensational headline the day before.

Maryati's case is a good example of another aspect of the global war on terror. Heavy security measures often end up labeling innocent people as terrorists. There were similar cases in the U.S. in response to 9/11, in Britain in response to the London Bombings, and in Indonesia in the hunt for the perpetrators of the Bali Bombings.

Today I remember the fifth anniversary of 9/11 and I try to understand how difficult it will be for Maryati and her family to restart their ordinary lives after being falsely accused of terrorism. They are victims of the so-called global war on terror, and also of the media frenzy that surrounds any terror-linked news.

2006/09/11 p.m4:00
© 2006 OhmyNews"

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