Friday, September 28, 2001
Terrorists Did What They Thought Right—Law Professor
By KIMBERLY EDDS, Staff Writer
The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 were not a result of brainwashed fanatics acting blindly, but an instance in which people believed they were doing the right thing for their people, a law school professor told a crowd of Pepperdine School of Law students yesterday.
“Arabs love Americans as individuals, but they hate to see America get involved in their business,” Adjunct Pepperdine Professor Berj Boyajian, a native Syrian, said during his open forum lecture on “Islam and the Terrorist Attacks.”
The designer of the attacks probably didn’t know that it was going to be this big of a disaster, he contended.
“They just wanted to have Americans open their eyes and see they are here and they are hurting,” Boyajian said.
Boyajian attended law school in Syria and practiced law there for six years before coming to the United States. He received his law degree from Loyola School of Law and currently practices law with his Los Angeles law firm, Boyajian and Associates. His practice focuses on toxic tort litigation.
Muslims are taught in the Koran to be active in their religion and to work to correct any mischief they see being done and the terrorists sought to correct the mischief they believed the United States was doing, he said. The holy scripture of Islam, the Koran is the ultimate authority in all social, religious, and legal matters.
But Boyajian was quick to remind the students that it was all a matter of interpretation and that not even Muslim jurists have a definitive answer on the suicide bombers in Israel.
Numerous suicide bombers have attacked as Palestinians and Israelis continue to struggle over the region.
Some jurists think the bombers are martyrs who are doing God’s work and some jurists think they are not, he said.
Boyajian read several passages from the Koran that instructed Muslims to protect innocent lives.
“Muslims are against terrorism, against killing unjustifiably and against murdering,” he insisted.
Boyajian told the students that the Arab and Muslim people feel for the victims of the attacks and they are condemning the act.
“These people are human beings and human beings feel bad,” he said. “When they see bodies being taken out of the towers, they feel bad.”
Boyajian said the attacks were a result of U.S. foreign policy in the Arab-Israeli conflict and a widely held belief by Arabs that the United States has imposed corrupt governments on them.
“What is important is the perception,” Boyajian said. “The perception on the street is that people had these governments imposed on them by the U.S.”
There are three major concepts about Islam and the Middle East that are misunderstood by the American people, making it difficult for Americans to understand why the terrorist attacks occurred, Boyajian insisted.
Americans use the word Muslim and Arab synonymously, they don’t understand that in the Middle East there is a distinct difference between an American and the American government, and they fail to see that Arab governments and the Arab people are two different things, Boyajian said.
“The American individual is always liked in the Middle East, but as a government America is despised,” Boyajian maintained. “They don’t agree with the foreign policy of the U.S.”
Boyajian emphasized that the term Arab refers to a race and the term Muslim refers to a religion.
“They are not interchangeable,” Boyajian said. “Not all Arabs are Muslim and not all Muslims are Arab.”
Because the American government is a government of the people, Americans do not differentiate between the Arab government and the Arab people, Boyajian said.
But even friendly allies despise the American government, not only out of jealousy, but out of expectations that, as the world’s only superpower, the United States should aid poorer countries, Boyajian said.
He cited a recent soccer match in Greece where fans were asked to stand for a moment of silence to remember the victims of the terrorist attacks. Instead of complying, Greek fans jeered and tried to burn the American flag.
“I’m your cousin and I’m poor, you have the obligation to support me,” he said. “They dislike us because we disappoint them and we don’t meet their expectations.”
Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company