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Panorama Monday, 22 October, 2001, 13:40 GMT 14:40 UK
Your comments on Clash of Cultures
Your Comments on Clash of Cultures

As George Galloway so eloquently put it on the Edwina Currie Phone-in, "the audacity of Richard Pearle to suggest that Muslims believe in a flat Earth, when the Europeans were torturing Gallileo for suggesting the Earth was spherical, the Muslim scientists already knew that the Earth was spherical." Just shows how mis-informed some Americans are on not only foreign cultures and religions but also history. It's a worrying sign when people like Richard Pearle can be in a position of such authority.

Richard Pearle was a strong voice of sanity in reply to the constant drivel to which we are all being subjected to these days on TV. The ignorance or just deliberate manipulation of the horrendous situation we all find ourselves in today by Islamic fundamentalists all over the world is adding insult to injuries. The truth will prevail eventually, and the allies will also prevail. The fundamentalists will self destruct because they are driven by evil in its most virulent form. That truth is as plain as the nose on Bin Laden's face for all who have eyes to see to see.
Angela Bell

I am an American currently working in Amsterdam. My home is 3 blocks from the WTC and mine is the first residential building that has been allowed to return. I flew home earlier this month and cannot begin describe the horror and no pictures can do "justice" to what these murderers have done. I sat in amazement by your programme as I was saddened by each side - Richard Pearle was not representative of the American sentiment of "who cares" what Middle-Eastern countries think of our current actions. I think we do care and we should be given greater credit as to understanding of the world community. Whilst we might not understand the ins/outs of Islam, do we need to? As a Catholic, do I know the ins/out of Buddhism, Judiasm, or atheism?

I must admit further amazement at the people in Pakistan as they were obviously an educated crowd. I think they were, with the exception of the man to the host's right, people who wanted justice to be done fairly - either by force or by trial and only wanted evidence. I think the evidence is surely there and is surely available. They seemed to be grasping for information that is readily available to anyone with a PC. Thank you for showing that programme as I genuinely saw how educated people on the other side thought. Whilst America is far from perfect and has surely made mistakes, I am very proud to call myself an American and a New Yorker. I think every citizen of any country should have equal pride; however, we each must allow the other to feel his (and her!!!) freedom.
New York City

I was disappointed to see the BBC Panorama programme create a debate as a clash of civilisation between Islam and the west. I just don't understand the BBC's motives. So what will the BBC be doing next? Will it be a live debate between the BNP in one part of the country and Islamic extremists in another part of the country with David Dimbleby orchestrating the debate from his studio in London?
Fatima Akhtar

I support the attacks on Bin Laden's supporters and installations in Afghanistan as well as on the Taleban but what I saw on your programme shocked me. To see such a senior representative of the American state talking so arrogantly was irresponsible and unhelpful of the Administration. Many of the people who spoke from Islamabad were very articulate and educated but they were all of the same opinion, more or less, and not representative of Pakistan's population. The US audience (especially Lisa) were inflammatory and typically insensitive to foreign views and values.
Andrew Duffell
Barcelona, Spain

I was appalled to hear some of the people's attitude towards Afghanistan, and that they think Americans bombarding is good. Who is the terrorist here? - Americans. They are no better then Bin Laden. Two wrongs do not make it right. Americans are killing poor civilians.
Ms. P. Allen
Watford, Herts.

It is much more interesting to see this web site than watching actual TV programmes, as there are far more varied opinions here. It is a shame that the groups of people gathered on each site had more or less similar, one sided opinions. It was like discussion among different locations. It would have been better if we were shown variety of people with varied opinions within the same location.
Kaoru Miyake

Before the programme I supported the strikes against Afghanistan but not after seeing some members of the American audience, especially the Pentagon representative, talk with such arrogance and lack of regard for Afghan (or Arab) life. I mean after listening to such articulate view points, they accused them of being ignorant because they didn't automatically agree with their US 'superiors'!!! The more open minded of the American audience hardly said anything but at least they cared for the innocent people who might not be bombed directly but who are going to starve as a result of US bombing. If Americans have any compassion at all they will stop the bombing immediately and concentrate their efforts on avoiding a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. Muslim lives aren't worth less than American ones, and the victims of the WTC aren't going to be brought back by more senseless deaths.

I am amazed that no one, not even one of your somewhat docudramatist reporters, has thought it reasonable to draw out from, or point out to, the "Muslim guests" that the reason one refers to Islamic terrorists is because that is the banner that they are fighting under. We have not in the past referred to PLO terrorists as Islamic terrorists because their goal was ostensibly a Palestinian one. Irish terrorists likewise Republican, the Oklahoma bomber etc did not fight under a religious banner and accordingly was not referred to as Christian, Baptist, Methodist, Catholic or other religious denomination terrorists. Please if you are going to continue with your current line of debate, then put up somebody from the non Muslim side who can explain to these people in no uncertain terms why one refers to Islamic terrorists.
Iain Mackenzie
Hythe, Kent

Is there any prospect that we may one day see the last of Mr Dimbleby or are his historic connections in the BBC too secure? He seems to my mind biased, by expressing his own opinions or by cutting short one person in favour of another. The most recent example of this was in this programme when he abruptly stopped a rather erudite lady diplomat to return to the somewhat blinkered Richard Pearle; the type of American I do not wish to see us supporting in a war.
Tony Maunder

I myself am from Pakistan and was displeased that none of the speakers from Pakistan could manage to get to the root cause. Pakistanis consider this a war on Islam because America has declared war on Taleban, who themselves are not terrorists. All they asked for was a proof and trial in their courts but instead of proving it to them, America has resorted to war and declared Taleban terrorists. I have to admit that Taleban is the closest to Islam that a government can get.
Haider Ali
London, UK

After watching the re-run of the programme it is clear that the BBC has provided the public with basically a show encouraging the quote "a clash of civilisations". As a Muslim living in London I don't see the need of such terrorist attacks myself however it would be nice to hear what Mr. " I don't care what the rest think" Robert Pearle would say if he was in a Muslim's position facing a dominating country such as the USA. Surely he would not feel the same way as he does now!

It's also amazing how the Americans continue to fund the Israeli's with warfare and economic aid when all they face are pebbles and stones which are all the Palestinians have. It sickens me to know of the double standards that the Americans are living and so more should be done to stop what is happening in Palestine first before hunting down the terrorists involved.
Hatim (16 yrs old)

I think the title of this programme is exceedingly descriptive of what I believe is the fundamental cause of discord between America and not only the Muslim world but the entire world. I am an American from the 60's, one who has always questioned the US government's policies as well as the culture of the US. It is unfortunate, indeed, that mainstream America is so removed from the rest of the world. Mainstream America is one of the main causes of discord because it is so out of touch with the cultural reality of other countries and I believe the US government takes advantage of this ignorance in its foreign policies. I was irritated with a couple of the American panellists - they WERE arrogant, it is a problem with Americans because most often they are not aware of other cultures. This is America's tragic flaw because it lacks understanding. A few of us do understand but only after much exposure, I believe.

The Dutch sociologist, Hofstede, offers an excellent resource to understanding differences among countries. He has written on Dimensions of Cultural Variability. Pakistan, Afghanistan, indeed, most of Asia, falls into the category of Collectivism, unlike that of the US and Britain, who are individualistic. Much can and should be done to correct the myopic vision of the average American.
Paula Dart Bartlett

After watching the programme, I can only despair at the attitudes of the American audience towards this global crisis. The ignorance, arrogance, and disgraceful intolerance that was demonstrated by the housewife, the editor, and the advisor to the Pentagon, doesn't give anyone much hope for any sort of lasting solution to the problems that face the international community. These global difficulties that effect so many people, of all cultures, can only be successfully addressed if people are prepared to accept that they are not always right. What a depressing, but not surprising glimpse, of the world's most influential nation. Oh dear.

After watching the programme, listening to the phone-in with Edwina Currie and reading all comments on this board, I think it is fair to say that this programme was a complete flop.

Richard Pearle was absolutely spot on. You cannot deal rationally with people who believe the earth is flat. If they behave like children treat them like children.

It is easy to feel misinformed. The spectre of propaganda hovers nearby as I hear Al Jazeera, American and British news alike. Even the basic editing that must take place if a news debate like like this one are to run to time, must be considered a representation of the events. Objectivity is then required from an audience to judge the implied interpretations. My second thought is that the BBC has an unenviable task: to balance the needs for facts with the needs for entertainment; to keep a balance, give us the truth, have conscience. It was so good to hear a wide range of opinions. We need more forums of debate; before you know it we'll be negotiating, and surely that is the point.
Ben A.

We need more Panorama programmes like this but we should carefully select the speakers who can point out the problems and provide valuable solutions. We need to avoid people like Richard Pearle and his notorious views, which will make people believe that all Westerners share his views. We need solutions to solve this conflict before it destroys us all.
Robert A. Khin

I think the forum gathered gives a great insight into the differences on both sides. But, the Pakistanis will not admit that bin Laden himself has admitted his involvement and therefore his guilt.
Ricky Gee
Sydney, Aust.

Having heard Mr. Pearle, I wonder who are the real fundamentalists in this war. How could a person at such a senior post be so far removed from the truth. Explains a lot about their policies.
Mohammad F

I agree with the vast majority of comments made. The Panorama programme was tabloid television at its worst. The media appear to be fighting their own "war" through lack of ingenuity. As far as the crisis is concerned, protest marches have been taking place all over the world, including in the UK. Pakistan is much more suitable for the news bulletins as peaceful, anti-war campaigners meet with the heavy-handedness that the Pakistan Government is notorious for.

In the USA, unfortunately, the war-machine propaganda once again seeks to exploit the emotional psychosis following the terrorist attack on the WTC. Americans are told that they are at war (against what? an extremely poor country suffering hardship and torture at the hands of a post-civil war regime) and that they are seeking peace. Terrorism will apparently be sought out and stopped, although there appears to be some inconsistency about how to go about this. So-called military targets and innocent, poor, helpless people are being bombed and killed in the name of freedom. When the Pakistan point of view regarding hypocrisy was cut short during the Panorama programme, I decided that the BBC, world-leaders in terms of news and media are just as imperialist as the W Bush administration.

Before the present crisis I always thought that the American people were an inspiration and a role model to the whole world due to their system of democracy. Watching the people of America justifying their actions on Afghanistan brought me to the conclusion that the American people are narrow minded, arrogant, stupid and brainless. America being a so called super power hasn't even got the courage to use its wisdom to bring the perpetrators to justice, instead it uses powerful force on people who are in desperation. I would also like to mention that the diplomat from Washington was as stupid as they come and that when he says that America will do what it feels necessary, it is the wrong way to go about it and that if that is the case then in due course America will get what it deserves.

I listened to the phone-in programme after Panorama and I just wonder: What is the sense of asking the people to call and say their questions if the people sitting in the studio do not let them say their opinion. Lot of people were interrupted in the middle of the first or second sentence with some argument against something what they said, before they managed to finish the sentence and ask the question they wanted to ask. Except that, it was a good debate.

Being a Pakistani living abroad, I was very disappointed with the views of the Pakistani audience. I have lived in Pakistan all my life and I know that most Pakistanis do not have such views and thus these people do not represent the points of view of an average Pakistani. I think people with such extremist points of view were chosen deliberately by BBC to prove something to the west. Well this has not really helped in changing the people's perceptions about Pakistan. Why couldn't they chose more educated and intellectual people to speak for my country instead of these fanatics.
Zohra Chaudhri
Montreal, Canada

It was incredibly disturbing to witness the New York panel and Mr. Pearle talk without listening or even making an attempt to understand the views represented by the Islamabad panel. How unfortunate it is that the American┐s have succumbed to America┐s own brand of propaganda, blindly accepting the notion that it is jealousy that fuels the hatred directed toward them. Since America dismisses the Moslem world┐s dissenting voice as the voice of an irrational, jealous child, not recognizing it for what it is - namely, justified anger toward America┐s self-serving foreign policy that has catastrophic effects on the Moslem world - the US will quite obviously perpetuate this cycle of violence! The jealousy argument has got to go! What's there to be jealous of? The depth of American ignorance?

While the Islamabad panel made an effort to address the questions presented by New York with reasoned arguments, the latter did not return the favour - perhaps because myopia renders many Americans, like the ones on Panorama, incapable of seeing anything other than what is presented by ABC, NBC or CBS, which are stilted explanations of the outside world and partial truths, if even that much.
Michael A.

Panorama is an investigative programme but this was provocative. I could never have imagined that this programme would be used to stir hatred. Al Jazeera with all its provocation now seems like a saint. First of all, what sort of poll was conducted suggesting that 86% Pakistanis support Osama Bin Laden? This is absolute rubbish. Besides, instead of discussing core issues, Islam was dragged into this stupid debate just because some maniacs (Moslems or otherwise) committed this act of terror.

A strong media like BBC ought to behave more responsibly in these critical times. BBC should try and bring people together rather than create differences between cultures or nations. It was indeed a dirty game played by BBC but I just cannot comprehend as to the reason behind it.
Mohammad Ali

Panorama should put together a programme about the current situation in Palestine and Israel which in my opinion is a smaller scale scenario of the American/Afghan conflict.

Will every nation now have the right to bomb the next country just because its leader refused to hand over a certain alleged terrorist within the given time limit????

What countries in America's point of view have that right and which do not. I'd like to see what the Bush says about that.
Humaira khan

Last night's programme contained many examples of flawed rhetoric, particularly in the American studio. What has Kashmir got to do with the Afghan situation? Is a free press necessarily an unbiased one? Does the truth of a statement depend upon who (viz, the Pakistan panel) has made that statement? Sadly, abhorrent as the Sept. 11th strikes were, last night's programme demonstrated that Americans are not taking this opportunity to reflect upon why their foreign policy might be distasteful to people in developing countries, no matter how well or poorly informed those people may be.

Setting up two groups to shout at each other across the world, couldn't have been better designed to fuel the 'war of civilisations'. Many of your respondents took Richard Perle's ('prince of darkness') notorious views as representing 'the West' or 'the USA' - he certainly doesn't represent me. The attempt to present this programme as a way of promoting understanding, made it even more dangerous. Why not have two mixed groups? Why not show debate within the two sides? Why not have Pakistanis and Americans sitting in each other's studios, having visited each other's country - having seen for themselves 'ground zero', refugee camps etc. Anything but this horrible manipulative format.
Andrew B

I was shocked to hear the remarks made by Richard Pearle given his eminent position in the heart of US military might. US is not doubt a great country and this is also a fact that people from the developing world envy the quality of life therein. However, the irony is that the great might they have attained has left Americans a bit ignorant about the rest of the world, and their policy makers a bit arrogant.

I understand that America is good for the people who live in the America. However, its interaction with other nations is dictated by its interests, which naturally creates resentments. In the nutshell it's the American responsibility to clear those feelings and resentment, which are the direct results of its foreign policy. Moin Khan
Moin Khan
North London

Thank God for people like George Galloway, a true product of a free thinking democratic state.

Thank goodness for the presence of Richard Pearle on last night's Panorama. His comments were sane, reasonable and honest in sharp contrast to the self deluding remarks made by those in the audience in Pakistan.
Mary Hudson

Everybody should recognise that this week's 'Panorama' programme was a calculated (and cynical) effort by the liberal BBC to ''balance'' last week's ''Panorama'' portrayal of Moslem extremism with a hand picked Islamabad panel of ''nice'', middle class Moslem professionals (neurologist, engineer, teacher, etc.) pitted against an equally carefully selected - but ''nasty'' - New York panel, whose white members were picked solely on the basis of their ''in your face'' capacities - also the obvious criterion behind Richard Perle's selection.
Bob Harris

Much mention has already been made of the lady panellist in Islamabad who appeared wearing a "yashmak-type" veil. I have lived part of my life as a Muslim woman in Saudi Arabia and I had no choice but to wear a veil, which completely covered my face. The Islamic teaching which we are told is behind this actually is a warning to women to be modest in their dress and behaviour and NOT to attempt to attract male attention. If this lady is following this ruling, I find it astonishing to see her on television in a Hollywood style veil reminiscent of "I dream of Genie". Full eye make up and lashings of mascara!!! A male colleague of mine today could only remember her appearance from the show and said how sexy he'd found it. Make up your mind - either follow the ruling or wear western dress, this weird combination of eastern dress with western make up only serves to confuse us all!
K Sharif

First of all let me thank BBC and Panorama for allowing Muslims to voice their concerns. How can America (and Britain) blame the Muslims around the world for having the opinion that they do when they are represented by the likes of Richard Pearle. Was he representing the Zionists lobby of America or the common American?

As for Abida Hussain, a typical nationalist politician, she showed total ignorance of Islam and lack of care about the opinions of the common Pakistani. She is typical of General Musharraf's attitude and avoids answering any question directly. Neither of these people are representatives of the common American or Pakistani, respectively, and therefore give out wrong message.

It seems to me very stupid for the few minority right-wing people to be arrogantly outraged when they have to realise that it isn't simply the Muslims that have condemned the war. Most religions have been preaching the message of peace against the war. The media has been claiming that Islamic fundamentalists made up a large part of the march. Yet during the march I didn't see a single person show support for the Taleban in anyway. From this I'm assuming that the only reason some newspapers have labelled them fundamentalists is because they wear a turban. It seems now that any Muslim who speaks out against the war is branded a fundamentalist.

No matter how much Bush and Blair say that the war is not against Muslims the fact is that it is specifically Muslims all over the world that have suffered as a result of this war whether here in the west being attacked by the Right or in Pakistan having to take in all the refugees that will ultimately result.

What we are doing in Afghanistan is in no way different to what happened on Sep 11. Both are acts of terrorism. More than 500 Afghanis have been killed, only about 11 of which are from Taleban and, may be, none from Al Qaeda.

Making an inadvertent mistake is no crime, but compounding it with deliberate intent most certainly is. And that is precisely what US President George W Bush would be doing if he continues to insist on 'gagging' the Western press in general and the powerful American television networks and print media in particular. As the Guardian has reported, the Pentagon is trying to buy exclusive rights to all satellite pictures taken by civilian satellites like Ikonos. One obvious reason for this is that they would expose the lethal effect these not-so-highly-accurate bombing raids have had on the civilian population and the actual extent of the 'collateral' damage involved.

I was fascinated by your programme yesterday and found it most interesting. I could not believe some of the views I heard from the Islamabad audience. Many of them spoke of the war on terrorism as the West against Islam. I think they are forgetting how the West helped many Muslims in Kosovo. Also it seemed to me that some of them were talking about democracy and the West, however they did not remember that as residents of Pakistan they have no democracy as they themselves are under a military dictatorship.

I was refreshingly surprised by the editor of Newsweek's comments. I found them to be intelligent and well thought out and above all credible. All the comments he made couldn't even begin to be answered by any of the audience in Islamabad.

I was also happy to hear a lady in the New York audience speaking about the atrocities that have been going on in Kashmir for the past 20 years. In the last 10 years over 70,000 people have been killed as a result of these Islamic terrorists, which President Musharaff calls freedom fighters. Now that the USA and its coalition are actively taking action against terrorism there is hope that the terrorism that India has suffered from, for many years will end. I totally agree with their actions and will continue to support them.

Your programme certainly illustrated the stark differences between the two panels. Whilst accepting that US policy in the past has not been perfect, I found that the remarks made by the majority of the Islamabad panel totally naive for presumably educated people. Not one of them would acknowledge that the actions of Bin Laden & his terrorist organisation were evil, & that military measures were the only viable option that the US could take. It has been repeatedly stated that Islam is a religion of truth - the impression given was the complete opposite. There does not seem to many voices in the Islamic countries of the world backing the US action, perhaps for fear of being ostracised by other Islamic states, & further & prolonged unrest in their own countries.
R. Hughes

It was interesting to note now much more informed and balanced the Islamabad panel was than the US panel, who demonstrated all the characteristics which alienate them from so much of the world (as did Richard Perle).

I write this as a white, nominally Christian US citizen who feels deeply for the losses suffered in the US and accepts that Osama Bin Laden is very likely responsible for the atrocities. However I see very little sign that Americans are willing to consider the reasons why so many people feel antagonistic towards their country, and very little sign that they realise that this war can only make matters worse, fuelling the fires of fundamentalism and making the world an even more dangerous place for all of us.
Bridget Bennett

In general, conflicts like this should be prevented from happening, and the only way they can be prevented is to know what has caused them. In this case, it seems highly unlikely to me, that some extremists would go so far and still have support in a fight against most of the world, without having a good reason.
Jonathan Wortelboer
Zoetermeer, the Netherlands

There should be more debates like this and we do really need to look into the background - why Islam and the West cannot seem to co-exist. Aren't the two ideologies diametrically opposed??

In the Panorama discussion there appeared to be some hostility voiced by both parties at each other. I do not honestly believe this to be the reality - more like a product of the misdirection of the discussion by the hosts themselves.. Panorama! As one points at the 'conspicuous consumerism' in Times Sq. he asks "is THAT one of the reasons why there is this rage against America?", the other host in Islamabad starts with "People in New York say that you're JEALOUS of them in America.." That seemed to set the tone of the continuing discussion. Even the title of the program "Clash of Cultures" was leading the guests into a verbal conflict.

So it seems that while we have members of the al-Qaeda hiding behind a human shield in a foreign country uttering religious rhetoric to enrage Muslims against Westerners, we also have an antagonistic Press trying to nurture racism against Muslims!

Citizens in Pakistan have every right to protest against the bombing campaign targeted at Afghanis owing to foreigners who have infiltrated their power structure. The USA has every right to retaliate against a regime that is harbouring and protecting the protagonists of a War on America. And that is the truth as I see it.

The sooner bin Laden is brought to justice the better. Better for us in the West so that we may begin to build on the unity that has emerged between the US, Pakistan, Russia and CIS, China, Iran, Jordan, Palestine... so that we may address their issues with us. And better - more importantly - for the Afghan people who will be rid of a fascist tyranny that they did not choose - but was dumped on them by poor foreign policy by, guess who.. The US!
Steven Auld
Glasgow UK.

It seems to me that there is a complete lack of understanding between the two cultures. I am afraid, deeply, that these, our enemies, live among us, take part in our fortune and the results of our hard work, yet do not ever become 'English'. They take no interest in democracy in the least, as Islam is first and foremost their law. Theocracies are terrific engines for breeding terrorism, no? If these Islamic nations are all so peace loving, and civilised, why then do the inhabitants of these nations spend so much effort trying to migrate to western countries? To my mind the answer is that they cannot depend on their own 'governments' to look after them and provide security or safety for their families. Shame on all of them, and shame on those in England who would side with these despots against our cousins in America.
B Mount

I was extremely amused by the comments of Mr. Richard Pearle, "The village idiot" who is the Chairman of the US Senate's Advisory Committee. His simplistic and emotional outbursts show the foolishness of the American government in employing someone in such an important position with evident prejudice. He didn't dare to answer if terrorists were found in Israel. How can anyone calling themselves humanitarians, justify the killing of the people of a country who have absolutely nothing?

I was delighted to hear the comments of Syeda Abida Husain who like the charming politician she is used her words to her advantage, giving Mr. Pearle a sharp knock on his knuckles.
Anjym N. Rahman
Karachi / London

Thank you so much for your programme, it was enlightening and confirmed my worse fears about this war. Richard Pearle said that the US don't need to take the Muslim world into consideration when they attack Afghanistan to arrest the terrorists. He added that the US haven't done anything wrong to offend Muslims in the past, look at what the US did in Bosnia and Somalia to help them. Then he asserted that the US should not help the Muslim world to solve its problems, whereas we know that their biggest problem is the growth of fundamentalist Islamic groups which have terrorised other Muslims for years and are now coming out of their borders to attack the US defaming Islam and Muslims. He concluded by saying that everything that was said in Islamabad was rubbish. This shows that he is just as arrogant and in denial as angry Muslims, but the difference is that he talks in the name of the world's superpower.

It is time for self-criticism in both the western and the Muslim worlds and time to listen to each other and come to an agreement on fighting together against the Islamic fundamentalist terrorism that plagues us all. This process should not just take place in the BBC studios, but on an international scale.
Laure Drouet

I felt the Islamabad audience were in a state of denial which then undermined their credibility. The prima facie, albeit circumstantial, case against Bin Laden, particularly given the tacit admissions of culpability broadcast since Oct 7th are strong. Yet, the Islamabad audience appeared to consider Bin Laden akin to be a folk hero, an Islamic Robin Hood, who couldn't possibly do anything like this and if he did must have had a good reason. The chap suggesting it was actually Zionists who committed the Sept 11 terrorist acts certainly wasn't at all in the real world. Asking that private citizens like us should see all the evidence is also unreal. We didn't need to see the evidence against Milosevic to know there was a case to answer for the ethnic cleansing against Muslims. Likewise, there appears to be a strong case to answer against Bin Laden and Al Quaida but we don't need to see the detail. Questioning whether bombing Afghanistan will bring the case to justice and the immediate war aims should have been the main focus of the discussion.

I spent a fortnight in the States from Sept 23rd. The people to whom I spoke were stunned by the events of Sept 11th and were completely unable to understand how someone could possibly hate them so much. Small wonder, they are immersed in a society that seems to adhere to the following tenets:
1) An obsessive love of the Dollar. 2) A reliance on 'market forces' to solve all problems. 3) A government which is 'right wing' (even when the Democrats are in power). 4) A total reliance on Arab oil. 5) A foreign policy which is designed to support the foregoing four points to the exclusion of everything else.

Their TV news is appallingly 'dumbed down' and is little short of open propaganda. These unfortunate people are cynically and badly served by their leaders and cannot readily see what the foreigner sees all too easily. I think some of the points expressed during the Panorama transmission support this view.
Mike Latham

Islam openly discourages a luxury lifestyle

Shama Aslam, Berkshire
The fact that other religious terrorists groups have not been 'named and shamed' without free-press style proof, perhaps suggests that there is probably a clash of cultures. However, as a Muslim Asian I will highlight that this is not any different from the existing clash between Asians and the west. Islam openly discourages a luxury lifestyle and this has been open knowledge amongst Americans for a long time. Let us not use the jealousy line of argument as a simple way to understand and a sign of the issue. To understand things we must look to socio, political and economic issues.
Shama Aslam

In my opinion the Panorama debate was a good idea - but too many issues were raised too briefly and it was a disjointed and poorly produced programme. The only things that came out of it for me were, firstly, the realisation that there is an incredible lack of understanding and ignorance of supposedly educated people regarding different cultures. Secondly, both sides need to look at themselves in the mirror, and in the context of the larger world that they live in.

Finally, it is now abundantly clear to me that it is not the West against Islam, it is not a clash of civilisations - It is a clash between the "haves" and "have-nots", and it boils down to the fact that the have-nots find themselves in that position largely due to the greed and money-grabbing policies of those who have everything. However, the fact the Islamic fundamentalist terrorists use their religion as an excuse and a justification for confronting this fundamental difference in wealth is both mindless and frighteningly popular.
Tjeerd Blackford

I'm not sure what is more frightening, a sub-section of the West thinking that all Muslims are Bin Laden supporters or the majority of peace loving Muslims thinking that us in the West are all so self-centred and arrogant as the Americans on the show last night. I wanted to cry out at the TV to the people in Islamabad that we're not all as narrow-minded as these people.

I thought the Panorama special on the clash of culture was brilliant. It showed how the East and West see the war on terror situation. The only thing I thought it lacked was middle east conflict which is the focus of this new world crises. Well done to the Beeb.
Zulfiqar Iqbal

What positive outcomes did the "Clash of Cultures" achieve? The title set the scene for a stage-managed show that would have done Jerry Springer proud. From the debacle only comments from parts of the audience in Islamabad and Mr Robin Cook stood out as being rational and objective. Thank you to them and many of the contributors to this 'comments section'. People clearly need to talk (in real life, not contrived situations), perhaps that way we can rid ourselves of some sadly polarised views.

It was said that the first casualty of war is truth. I feel that having watched the programme this is very appropriate because many have lost sight of the truth. As Jesus said "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone" (John 8:7). I am a Christian and the Truth is Jesus. Like it or not we share this planet and can and should coexist as we are interdependent. The problem is simply corruption, power and greed and the disproportionate distribution of wealth. All religions are worthless if the truth is clouded by man's weaknesses to sin. The Islamic world needs to take a long hard critical look at itself and soon, because it appears to be unable to criticise governments or individuals that just happen also to be Islamic.
Darren Yates
Basingstoke, England

The arrogance shown by Richard Pearle was breathtaking

Richard Fowler, London
The programme was brilliant - but I was shocked at Nisha Pillai's attitude and her opening question was rather silly and ridiculous. Why would somebody be jealous of the USA! I could see that she was getting angry and giving her views which is not the idea. A presenter has to be neutral!
Farah Karim-Ismail
New Malden

Your programme last night starkly illustrated the diplomatic gap still to be breached between the US and the Muslim world. The arrogance shown by Richard Pearle was breathtaking and illustrative of the worrying recent increase in American jingoism and insensitivity after the commendable diplomacy in the two weeks following the attacks. However most worrying was the general failure to differentiate between a US reaction to the terrorist attacks on one hand and the general US policy in the Middle East on the other. The attacks on Afghanistan are justified because the Taleban is harbouring terrorists and has nothing to do with Islam. This must constantly be emphasised by the alliance and understood by Muslims worldwide, evidently not the case judging by the panel in Islamabad. Only Robin Cook and the Muslim gentleman in New York seemed to speak any sense in this respect. American foreign policy is another matter, and while not perfect and in need of urgent review, does in no way justify the horrific attacks of Sept 11.
Richard Fowler

The lady in Islamabad with the Islamic headdress was absolutely brilliant. It's very rare to hear Muslim Women on the TV being so articulate and switched on. Well done to the BBC for bringing these views to our screen. The advisor to the Pentagon Mr Pearl was breathtaking in his arrogance, if these are the people formulating US policy, God Help Us.
Peter Jackson

This is an act of war and US have the right to retaliate against their enemies

Mark R, Bristol
I think the criticism of Richard Pearle is completely wrong and that people are forgetting that his country has been attacked and 6000 - 7000 people have been killed as a result of this terrorist atrocity. This is an act of war and US have the right to retaliate against their enemies. You cannot negotiate with Bin Laden, he will keep on killing innocent people unless he is stopped, he attacked the US Frigate the USS Cole, then he attacked the US embassies, how many more times can you let this man and his followers get away with these attacks? The only way to beat terrorist is to fight fire with fire. I thought the question, what action would the Pakistani people want if 6000 of their people had been killed in the same manner, was answered not honestly, they would have responded with military action if not nuclear.
Mark R

Think Logically. Why are Britain and America bombing Afghanistan? Because the Taleban did not hand over Bin Laden within two weeks. Is this a good enough reason to bomb a nation? If it is, may be Spain should have bombed the whole of Britain when they failed to hand over Pinochet.
Kay King

As an American living in London I was shocked that the BBC could have invited Richard Pearle to represent the US government point of view. He does work for the administration, but surely the BBC could have found someone more moderate (and of a younger generation). I was gratified, upon reading the comments sent to Panorama, that a majority of British viewers agree with my view. The BBC seems totally out of touch with American opinion. Why does the BBC keep wheeling out Pearle, whose views are so arrogant and offensive (and out of date)? Shame on David Dimbleby for allowing such a biased 'discussion' to take place, and for not reining in the obviously out-of-his-depth presenter in New York, who looked as if he was facing a corral full of wild horses! Please do better next time, BBC.
Judith H.

The comment by one of the panels that the Pakistanis listen to the rubbish on Al Jazeera, well what would she say about CNN - any difference Ms. Pinto? I think Mr. Pearle was a completely wrong candidate to represent US, he was very arrogant.

The discussion by the moderate panel in Islambad was quite convincing. They gave a clear message to America and to the rest of the world that you can't target a country without the proof. The statement by Mr. Sheikh was quiet interesting regarding the Jewish lobby and America's support for economic and military aid in view and line with foreign policy taken by super power.
Azad Ahmed

Too many people are saying that Islam is a religion purely dedicated to peace. However, all Muslims have a right to defend themselves and a right to wage war (Jihad) on those that oppress them. The Palestinians who are being killed daily by the Israelis are fully justified in their battle against the Jews.
Irfan Sabir

The US and the West should start looking at their own foreign policies

Daniel Jeffrey, London
The arguments that are being presented against Islam and to justify the war against Afghanistan seem to be cloaked in sickening hypocrisy. As a Communist I believe in no god, but for people to suggest that Christianity or Judaism is any different from Islam is nonsensical. At various points in the Bible it talks about stoning people to death and even killing astrologers and the Jewish religion speaks of the chosen people, so why can those religions put themselves on some kind of pedestal?

And as for the "war on terrorism", maybe the US and the West should start looking at their own foreign policies. 30,000 people die every day due to third world debt so Western multinationals can line their pockets. The US and Britain are the two biggest arms dealers on the planet. They enabled Suharto to kill over 1 million people in Indonesia and East Timor, supported Pinochet's death squads, massacred millions in Vietnam, supported Pol Pot in Cambodia and supported Sharon who was responsible for the butchering of thousands of men, women and children to death. Where is the justice for these people? And then people wonder why there is so much anger towards the West?
Daniel Jeffery

I thought that the clash of cultures programme was a perfect illustration of our main problem. There is a profound misunderstanding between different cultures coupled with aggravation caused by a collective inability to communicate properly. I must say that David Dimbleby had a catastrophic effect on any positive dialogue that sometimes appeared possible. For our part we in the west should clearly show that we have no conflict with Islam and Muslims. We should also painstakingly reiterate that we have as yet no evidence concerning the source of the Anthrax. Bin Laden should be hunted down but we should be careful what we destroy in the process.
Peter Aitchison

Fascinating television which highlighted far too many differences in ideology. More concerning however as a UK citizen, how removed and extreme the US audience's opinions were given we are fighting their war. Has the open press in the US forgotten how America funded Irish terrorism which resulted in many British casualties? How will destroying and replacing a government in Afghanistan stop terrorists as extreme as Bin Laden?

As a revert Muslim I would like to offer the following insight having lived in both cultures: Firstly, I thought the inclusion of the veiled lady showed that many educated and intelligent women adorn the veil acting upon what they deem to be a religious obligation. The adoption of which is done willingly by many women throughout the world, and as seen in the example shown does not restrict their intelligence. Please note that many of the women shown fleeing the barbaric bombing of the American forces are still adorning the Hijab of their own choice in Pakistan despite the dire circumstances they are in.

The media portrayal of the Taleban and Islam as being medieval is insensitive and ill-informed? We all remember the crying little girl who was presented to the US congress and the world as a witness to the Iraqi soldiers throwing little infants on the floor from their incubators. We were to find out a number of years later that she was actually the Kuwaiti ambassadors daughter who had been living in the US all that time.

The entire programme seemed to centre around fanning the flames of the conflict

Robert Kay, London
Many Muslims will distance themselves from acts of terrorism, but Mr Bin Laden's call for the Americans to remove themselves from the holy lands of Arabia and a just solution to the Palestinian issue, these are sentiments felt by many Muslims around the world who would adopt other ways of expressing it. Mr Pearle and some of the audience in the US reflected all that is wrong with US foreign policy. September 11th was unacceptable and what is happening to the Muslims in Afghanistan and Palestine, Chechnya, and Kashmir are also crimes against humanity.

It would have been nice to see a civil discussion between moderate elements of the American and Pakistani public. Too bad that didn't happen. The entire programme seemed to centre around fanning the flames of the conflict. Shameful!
Robert Kay

If Islam is a religion of peace, then why is there such hypocrisy in their support for Bin Laden, who openly congratulates terrorist murderers? America has the right to defend and avenge itself; a jihad, if you will. What happened on Sept. 11th cannot be justified or rationalized by any arguments, about any deeds, ever committed by any government, ever. Mr. Pearle is spot on in his dismissal of two faced Islamic clap-trap.

It was disappointing to see the Americans are so completely brainwashed by their so called democratic and free press. If the press are so free why do they have everything edited by the authorities! Also the stance of the American people was very rude and anti-Muslim. The arguments posed by the US speakers was on the reptilian brain level, i.e. because the US was attacked by a yet unproven enemy the US has the right to strike and kill innocent civilians in Afghanistan.

Mr Pearle was proof of the ignorance, and arrogance inherent within the US administration. The Muslims in Pakistan were putting a view across, a view held by millions of Muslims across the world and this was simply rubbished by the US panel and Mr Pearle. As a Muslim I do not understand why people cannot see the hypocrisy of the USA and recently Tony Blair. US life seems to have a value and Muslim life has no value was the impression I got from the views of the US panel.

Although I don't agree with the unprecedented attacks on Muslims and their mosques, I feel obliged to point out the fact that this is the same kind of intolerance that the Jewish population has been subject to for over 50 years in this country, and in Israel. Jewish people live in a situation where they constantly re-evaluate their security, to the point where hundreds of armed police and plain clothed security officials will be present at major Jewish events.

Clash of Cultures

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