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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

America Strikes Back: Muslim Reactions to War on Terrorism

Aired October 15, 2001 - 05:32   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Well how much support does the U.S. already have for this war on terrorism and what can be done to sway other Arab nations?

Mid East analyst Hala Lumarin joins us now from our London bureau this morning. Good morning Hala.

HALA LUMARIN, MIDEAST ANALYST: Good morning.

PHILLIPS: Why don't we talk, first of all, about the accuracy here? If you think there is accurate portrayal of Arab reaction, because it seems to be very isolated and you see a lot of the minority and not so much the majority. Would you agree with that?

LUMARIN: I agree with that a lot. The reaction is there -- is of course the governments who support the western way of dealing with the terrorist attacks, and this is sort of local pile (ph) support that we see. There is a silent majority of people who are families like all other families in the world who would rather get along with their daily lives and they deal with their children's problems and deal with what they're going to eat tomorrow.

These are the silent majority and they are -- they're listening, watching and very, very apprehensive on what is going to happen next and whether it's going to affect their life. And of course, there is a third group, which is a minority and these are the radicals. They are actually extreme religious zealots. They are vocal, loud and very organized and they are the ones that attract all the media attention.

So this is what you are seeing, but there is a big quiet majority. And I would like to add that this quiet majority who are watching apprehensively would very much like to see, so that they can get along with their lives, to see that this job is done to the end. This job is done completely. The terrorists that are responsible for the act are brought to justice.

And they would, I think, also like to make sure that there is some kind of United Nations or independent way of nation building in the area so that we don't have big vacuums and -- which might create instability. They would want stability to make sure that they get along with their lives

PHILLIPS: Now how is the coverage of this war ...

ALUMARIN: This is what I believe.

Phillips: Understandable. The coverage of this war has been very different from the past. You're not seeing a lot of inside footage, I guess would be the way to say it, on television, and usually it's a lot of death and destruction, that seize this quiet majority that you've been talking about to speak up. Do you think that is having an influence here and if we start to see more compelling footage, would this awake this quiet majority?

LUMARIN: Yes. I am afraid you are -- you are right, this is a very important point. People call this a propaganda war. I'll go further and call it a war on television -- television screens. The message sometimes -- and television is visual and although these -- I do think that the western press and media are trying to bring these -- what is happening in the -- in the area, which is being bombarded. But because there is no TV spectacle, as you explained, they're concentrating on demonstrations and these demonstrations are not of the majority of people, by the minority.

So this get the message not clear, especially I do listen to the correspondents and they do explain that these are small numbers, but television is a visual image, and the picture of those demonstrations -- it is the -- the pictures of those -- which are very disturbing and emotional and this is what affects most people in our part of the world.

Of course, now that the Taliban has allowed them to go in, we will probably start seeing, for the first time, the visions of the results of the bombing and the results of the war. Now this means probably more children, families displaced, the children hurt, homes destroyed. Now if these are not put in the right context and I mean a visual context, you know the visual aspect sets the agenda -- pictures set the agenda.

We as media people have to think very carefully about this. If this is not put in the right context, the message will be misunderstood and it is going to create great emotional imbalance in the area I'm afraid.

PHILLIPS: OK Hala, real quickly, before we let you go -- real quickly please. Ramadan is approaching. This is the month of peace for the Arab world. Could we see an affect on this month -- the dynamics of this war because of Ramadan?

LUMARIN: I'm afraid Ramadan is a month where the Muslims fast and pray to cleanse their bodies and spirits -- it's a month where all the Muslims in the Arab world feel united in this act, and I think bombing an Islamic country at this point and time might create a lot of complication and misunderstanding and hot (ph) emotions in the area.

Phillips: Hala Lumarin, thank you so much for being with us this morning.

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