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Mumbai Terror Attack: What The World Is Saying

Indian newspapers have taken the lazy way out and looked at what the same handful of newspapers in the US and the UK have had to say about the terror attack in Mumbai. And that is passed off as what the international media has been saying.

Here are gleanings from a more representative group. This is being written on Saturday morning, after Indian commandos have taken control of the Taj hotel. I will update this blog as I come across more international newspaper opinion. Readers are welcome to point me to anything interesting they come across.

1. The Jerusalem Post does not pull any punches, saying it is a clash of civilizations.

"The bloodbath reminds us that, though Muslim extremism is often traceable to some local grievance, it's in essence part of a larger conflict between civilizations. Islamists are violently affronted when Hindus, Jews, Buddhist or Christians are sovereign over a Muslim minority."

 "Israelis feel at one with the people of India, especially at times like these. Both countries are modern incarnations of ancient civilizations. We share common political values, overlapping security concerns and a growing commerce."

"Israelis have long argued that no political grievance, no perceived injustice and no religious creed can ever justify waging war against civilians. Others have sometimes made excuses for "resistance" movements."

2. The Asahi Shimbun vacillates, but also frames the issue in religious terms.

"The situation of India, which is frequently targeted by terrorists, is becoming increasingly complex. But one thing is clear. At the root of the problem is religious antagonism within the country. Hindus make up 80 percent of India's population of more than 1.1 billion, of which slightly more than 13 percent are Muslims. 

In conflicts stemming from religious antagonism in India, Muslims have often been the victims. While India's economy has grown rapidly, its Muslim society has been left behind, and the gap with Hindu society is widening. 

India first needs to squarely face these problems, which provide a breeding ground for extremists, and promote social harmony. 

We cannot overlook the fact that the incidents occurred at a time when India and Pakistan were moving to improve relations."

3. The People's Daily is silent right now, but I will update as soon as it offers its opinion.

4. Dawn says in a careful editorial that India and Pakistan should fight terror jointly.

"If India believes that Pakistan is compounding that problem in its neighbour’s territory, then it is in the interest of every Pakistani to know what is going on. The Indian prime minister or any other official should come forward with names, identities, phone records, bank statements or any other proof that shows a Pakistani connection. After all it is in our interest to unearth and destroy sponsors of yet more terrorism in our midst. But without a sensible approach from the Indian side, Pakistan is bound to bristle and react defensively, sparking a new round of blame and counter-blame. Following the attacks on the Indian parliament in December 2001, the cycle nearly ended up in a catastrophic war between the two countries. The only winners in the event of an escalation in hostility between India and Pakistan will be the terrorists in both countries. But Pakistan cannot afford to be smug as India suffers. We have a grave problem of militancy and the attacks in Mumbai are a grim reminder of the endless possibilities of terror."

5. Beirut Daily Star says Islam would never condone the acts of barbarity in Mumbai.

"The atrocity that occurred on the streets of Mumbai will unfortunately add to the pressures that ordinary Muslims around the world must face in this age of the global "war on terrorism." There will be those who will point to the attacks as "proof" that Islam is part and parcel with intolerance and barbarity. Muslims will again be forced to correct the ignorance that assumes the worst about Islam by ignoring a simple truth: that no religion in the world would condone such acts of depravity, least of all Islam."

 6. The Mail & Guardian in South Africa says it is an attack on globalised India and "on all of us".

"This was not just an attack on the India that continues to face off with Pakistan over the future of Kashmir or with the Maharashtran Hindu chauvinists who have in the past orchestrated pogroms against Muslims. It was an attack on globalised India, which is to say an attack on the world we all live in now, a world where rich countries are increasingly dependent on goods and services produced in developing countries, where new flows of trade, capital and ideas are radically altering social relations, for better and for worse.

To see these attacks simply as products of India's long war with Pakistan or its internal divisions would be a disastrous oversimplification. They are attacks on all of us. That realisation should not only deepen our anger and sadness, it should remind us too that the project of combating terrorism and its roots is not just for American imperialists, it is a global imperative that is desperately in need of new and more effective solutions."

8. Der Spiegel has not written its editorial as yet. But Gregor Peter Scmitz writes from Washington that the terror attack is Barack Obama's first test.

"The crisis could be Obama's first big foreign policy test. The world is going to dissect his response."

9. The Sydney Morning Herald calls for solidarity with India.

".. this week's atrocity bears the hallmarks of the global jihad that brought us the September 11, 2001 attacks and the Bali, London and Madrid bombings. Targets included transport infrastructure, five-star hotels and restaurants frequented by westerners, as well as a Jewish centre. The assailants were young men, heavily armed and well trained. It is not yet known if they were imported for this purpose or were home-grown terrorists. India has known both in the 62 years since independence. At times, Pakistan has done its best to pour fuel on India's internal fires, and India's Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, has been quick to warn of serious consequences if the latest attacks are linked to neighbouring countries

"It is to be hoped that a rush to judgment - egged on by India's highly competitive news media - will be avoided."

 10. Canada's National Post too takes the ridiculous "root-causes" line, but points fingers at Pakistan and Bangladesh as well.

"Among India's one billion inhabitants are nearly 140 million Muslims, many of whom feel politically and economically disenfranchised. Some, especially in the majority-Muslim state of Kashmir, share the radicalized agenda of Islamist terrorist groups in neighbouring countries. With Muslim Pakistan and Muslim Bangladesh bookending India -- both nations full of groups with axes to grind against the government in New Delhi -- a likely scenario is that local terrorists, urged on and financed by foreign elements, were behind Wednesday's killings."



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