Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

America’s Barbed Wire | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Following the attempt by Nigerian student Omar Farouk Abdulmutallab to blow up a passenger jet in its airspace, the US did not hesitate to impose [security] restrictions at airports on citizens from 14 different countries wishing to enter the US.

These restrictions include preventing passengers from going to the restroom up to at least one hour before landing, observing passengers who visit the restroom during take-off more than once, as well as taking the precautionary measure of physically frisking passengers prior to boarding, and this includes searching sensitive areas. Other security measures include monitoring traditionally unmonitored areas of the airport, including toilets, as well as passengers being required to pass through full body scanners that allow security to see a naked image of the passenger. Passengers will also be prevented from fully covering themselves with a blanket while sleeping on an airplane so that they can be more easily observed. All of these restrictions have been implemented on the pretext that these 14 countries sponsor terrorism or are embroiled in terrorist activities, or suffer from terrorism. This categorization ignores the fact that the entire world today is suffering from terrorism, including the US itself, as was evident by the recent attack carried out US citizen Joseph Stack, who flew an airplane into an IRS building in Austin a few days ago. Indeed the assassination of Palestinian Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, which was carried out in Dubai by a number of people arriving from a number of destinations using forged European passports, only confirms that this danger can take place anywhere in the world. If the US had imposed these restrictions on everybody flying to America then nobody could complain, but discrimination between nations is what has made this an issue subject to criticism and sensitivity.

I am aware that the US complains about the growing animosity that it is facing in many parts of the world, and that it spends a lot of money in order to improve its image, but at the same time it is committing simple mistakes that thwart its efforts and spoil its attempts to improve its image in people’s minds, especially as confronting terrorism requires a unified effort from all countries away from unconvincing categorization. It is inappropriate for a central and pivotal country like the US to be unable to find a means to protect itself other than by unleashing more provocative barbed wire which separates it from others according to categorizations that lack logic, objectivity, and political correctness.