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Left unaddressed, the injustices in the global order dominated by the United States would continue to expose the superpower to the threat of terrorism.

Dr RS McCoy, chairperson of Malaysian Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, said that "terrorism has become a weapon of the weak, violated and dispossessed".

He said world leaders should shoulder part of the blame for the Sept 11 attacks in New York City and Washington DC because they did not help to bring about a just world order.

There is hatred towards the US for supporting Israel and allowing it to continuously suppress the aspirations of the Palestinian people, he added.

He said although there was no justification for the attacks in the US, this act of terrorism should serve as a 'wake-up call' for global leaders.

On Sept 11, the 110-storey World Trade Center in New York was levelled after two commercial airline plane smashed into its twin towers. Meanwhile, another plane crashed into the Pentagon in Washington.

"It should be clear to the Pentagon that military strength does not secure the US from terrorist attacks," McCoy said.

A new approach is needed to promote social justice around the world by reducing the gap between the rich and the poor and to resolve conflict through dialogue, he added.

McCoy was speaking at the International Movement for a Just World forum, 'Fighting terrorism, seeking justice', which was attended by about 100 people in Petaling Jaya last night.

Who is a terrorist?

The definition of 'terrorist' has been "used and abused" by the regimes in power against their opponents, said another speaker at the forum, political scientist and malaysiakini columnist Dr Farish A Noor.

Among others, leaders such as former South African president Nelson Mandela were labelled as terrorists by the apartheid regime, he said.

He added that the term has been used by authoritarian regimes to alienate their opponents by creating a boundary between 'us and them'.

"The image of the 'mad terrorist' makes dialogue impossible," he said.

Farish stressed that the term of 'terrorist' is not only applicable on religious groups but it was also used on the secular groups such as the communists.

However, he cautioned that 'demonising' the opponents as terrorists is a self-fulling prophecy because one is only helping to perpetuate the myth of terrorism.

"Those who don't want to address the injustices because they have vested interests would use the term terrorists on their opponents," he said.

According to Farish, the root cause of terrorism is an unjust global system which continues to marginalise a segment of the world's population.

"Terrorism is a response to an unjust world system," he said.

Rogue superpower

Also speaking at the talk, Just president and Keadilan deputy president Dr Chandra Muzaffar said that the reason the US failed to effectively address various global issues is because it sought to protect its own interests.

He claimed, among others, the superpower backed corrupt regimes which suppress the democratic aspirations of the people in order to protect its oil and political interests in the Middle East.

"From the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro to (the UN World Conference Against Racism) Durban, the US had taken decisions which were against the interest of the majority," Chandra said.

He added that various reforms to the United Nations were also opposed by the US.

"How can such a hegemony fight against terrorism? It can't," he said.

According to Chandra, there is no provision in international law for a country to attack another because of the actions from a group of people in the country.

"Might is right. That's the language of the US," he rued.

However, Chandra said he was pleased with the reaction of the American people, who mostly stood by their fellow Muslims in the hours after the attacks.

He said that the number of hate crimes committed in the aftermath of the attacks were significantly lower - 40 cases within 24 hours - compared with 120 cases after the 1995 bombing of the FBI building in Oklahoma which killed 168 people.

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