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Thursday, 27 September, 2001, 13:28 GMT 14:28 UK
September 27, Southampton
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Audience question: Since Osama Bin Laden was probably hoping for a violent response, if that's what he gets is it not giving him a double victory? You said:
Responding to Allan Brown, the difference is, that in this instance the alleged perpetrator is a network of terrorists, not a sovereign country like Iraq was. In order to get Bin Laden, they are going to have to kill lots of innocents and risk plunging Pakistan into civil turmoil/war. You really think they will get Bin Laden alive?
The longer the coalition of nations takes to find and capture the culprit of terror - the more innocent people will die due to malnutrition brought about through the spreading terror of retaliation. Children die, the elderly die, before any action is taken!
I agree that military action should be taken against Osama Bin Laden and the Taleban but it should have been taken a long time ago. Britain and the US have known about the way in which the Taleban treats its people for years and yet we have waited for this terrorist atrocity to happen. Many people are now opposed to military action because it seems like an act of vengeance rather than an act to help the Afghan people.
I don't understand how anyone can question the validity of going after Osama Bin Laden. There is no need to ask if he is guilty or not - he and other Muslim fundamentalists have already declared war on us. They are our enemy by word and deed, and they will never stop trying to harm us, even if we put all their leaders in prison.
Why is everyone so concerned about proving Bin Laden's guilt before he is
apprehended? I don't recall a single case where the authorities in any
country do that. They always arrest the suspect then present their evidence
in court. What's different about Bin Laden?
I do support military action, but how does one win a 'War on Terrorism'? Capturing or killing Bin Laden will only serve to make him a martyr and inspire the hundreds of thousands of fanatics who follow him.
Surely Bin Laden has already admitted enough things ie the last attack on the Trade Centre, and other offences for us to go straight for him.
It is very upsetting for the writer Bonnie Greer to suggest that we must help the people of Afghanistan. One of the comments often said about the west is that we are interventionist - that we act in a superior role. This is a civil war between Muslims alone. They have even arrested aid workers claiming that they were Christian and therefore not fit to help the people. It is very simple, let's see the Muslim world act in a humanitarian way and solve the full needs of the Afghan people.
An atrocity that incites aid and tolerance will breed further atrocity. 'The wages of sin is aid'?
Before a single British life is lost as part of a British response to the New York tragedy, the people who will risk their lives should be told the evidence available against the targets they are asked to fight. British politicians are seen as corrupt and slimy - are we really expected to follow them blindly into a third world war - I think not?
Media coverage of chemical warfare irresponsible?
Audience question: Do the panel consider the mass media coverage concerning possible chemical warfare to be irresponsible?
Berlusconi saying what everyone else is thinking?
Audience question: Is Berlusconi saying what everyone else is thinking? You said:
If the West is more advanced than Islam, then please explain why the foundations of the 'civilised' West were built on colonial empires which raped the peaceful nations of their natural resources (oil, gold, diamonds...), practised wholesale SLAVERY of non-whites on a scale yet to be witnessed and denied women equal rights (remember the suffragette movement achieved a level of equality for women only during the last century).
The only panellist with any common sense was Bernard Jenkin. The silliest were Bonnie Greer and George Monbiot who tied for the position of talking the most 'liberal' garbage. Silvio Berlusconi was right. There IS a clash of cultures between Islam and the 'liberal' West. Furthermore, he rightly said that ours was a superior culture.
What is upsetting about Bonnie Greer's suggestion that we must help the people of Afghanistan? Let's not use easy rationalisations to justify xenophobia or an international nimbyism. Fundamentally we are all human beings - not 'Muslims' or 'Christians' (labels some of us adopt when it suits). Let's aim for generosity of spirit and reach out to those whose realities are so unimaginable to our fat, unimaginative, complacent 'western' heads.
Well maybe Berlusconi's comments were inappropriate for the PM of Italy, but I wonder how many of us really agree with them. Why is it not acceptable to say in public that our civilisation in the West is superior to that of the Islamic Middle East. Our society is enriched by its diversity but what makes our civilisation superior is the respect for human rights that surely no one can suggest exists in the Islamic world. Just look at their treatment of women!
I take exception to Bonnie Greer saying that Adolf Hitler was a Christian. He quite definitely was not. Neither do I think that a crusading mentality in which we hold high our banners - Christian or otherwise - high submits anything constructive to the debate. Terrorists are evil - no world religion supports evil.
If Christians and western people are so superior to Muslims then why did Mr Berlusconi appoint a Muslim manager to manage AC Milan, the football club, which he happens to be the chairman of? Isn┐t there a Christian or a western person who could do a better job than Mr Fatih Terim who is Turkish and also Muslim?
Jack Straw commended or condemned?
Audience question: Should Jack Straw be commended and not condemned for airing his views on the Palestinians' cause? You said:
It is particularly difficult to have any kind of reasoned debate if any criticisms, even those of a measured and justifiable nature, against Israel are immediately denounced as anti-Semitic or inflammatory. I would urge people to differentiate between those who are insensitive and offensive and those who are genuinely expressing a point of view.
It must be remembered that up until 1967 the Palestinian territories in question were under Jordanian and Egyptian control. The Palestinians were kept in squalor and there was no talk of a Palestinian state. When Israel took control they tried to improve the Palestinians' lot. It is the dysfunctional leadership of the Palestinians which is causing them immense hardship not the Israelis.
I was appalled by the anti-Semitic comments and abuse. Most of all I was disgusted when a member of the audience announced that the true terrorists in the recent crisis have been the Israelis, and he was loudly applauded. Today has been Yom Kippur, a day of solemnity, contemplation and repentance for Jews throughout the world. In every synagogue, prayers have been said, denouncing ALL terror attacks, praying for the victims who suffered and for world peace.
I am disgusted with the ignorance displayed by the audience tonight - a round of applause was given to one member of the audience who firmly stated that Israel is 'a state of terrorism' and 'has killed 100's of 1000's of people.' This is clearly not the truth. I feel the audience members should read the news before they make any uninformed assumptions!
I realise that not everything Israel does is right. However surely it can't be forgotten the terrorists that the Palestinians harbour in the form of Hamas - they are far from blameless. I was very angry with the gentleman who raised the question tonight as I felt that he was very biased as I could see he was possibly Muslim with hardly an impartial view of the situation.
A member of the audience stated that Israel was the biggest terrorist - and I think this was an extremely inflammatory statement. I was disappointed that it was not really picked up by any of the panel. In the last six days, there have been 88 acts of Palestinian violence against Israel which included the murder of a young Jewish mother, whose three-month-old baby now refuses to be fed by anyone.
During the current crisis and beyond, the Palestine issue must be looked at by the international community and once and for all sorted out. If the will of the UN is there to get this thing sorted then somehow it will be. At the end of the day it is an incontrovertible fact that the rights of the Palestinians have been rode over roughshod. The USA and Israel have repeatedly ignored UN resolutions concerning the situation there.
Jack Straw's remarks on Tuesday attributing terrorism to events in 'Palestine' showed little forethought, were ill-timed and showed a distinct lack of knowledge and understanding of the region. Firstly there is no Palestinian state. Secondly Israel is a democracy and a target of terrorism as it is seen by Muslim fundamentalists as an alien entity that upholds the same 'foreign' traditions and values of a Western nation.
What I find surprising about debates on the Israel/Palestinian situation is the total lack of understanding of why Israel exists. It was created by the allies at the end of WWII. It has a right to exist because we helped give it life. It wishes to exist peacefully. But the Palestinians will not let it. Israel would not act against anyone if they did not continually come under attack. It is right therefore that we and the US/France and others should support them.
Absolutely disgusted with the bias the panel showed this evening against Israel - without modification from David Dimbleby. How easy it is to scapegoat a small country that is being forced to defend itself on a daily basis against its enemies who do not play by the rules of a democratic society.
Single faith schools lessen or strengthen community spirit?
Audience question: Does the panel believe single faith schools lessen or strengthen community spirit? You said:
I was appalled to learn that the government is considering the introduction of this idea on a wide scale. I was heartened therefore when two of your panellists expressed the view that it would be divisive. Bonnie Greer defended the idea by saying that she was educated in a Catholic school and that it did not influence her. Well, good for her, but then she is a highly intelligent person. Schools should not be used for religious indoctrination.
Am I the only person who fails to understand why it seems to be so politically correct at present to argue that a good preparation for living in a multicultural, multi-ethnic, religiously tolerant community is for children to be separated in so-called 'faith' schools? Surely if that is such a good idea then there should also be a vogue for 'faith' universities and even 'faith' neighbourhoods. The possibilities are endless with the ultimate logical end point of even a (completely intolerant) single 'faith' nation - you know, like, say, Afghanistan.
All children are born into humanity wide open to the bigotry and intolerance of the religions of a particular century and area on the planet. They are moulded into being one religion or another depending on who is teaching them, just as they learn language. A country that has grown up enough to accept a multicultural society is so close to realising that organised religion has no place in it.
Surely education is about opening minds
not closing them, or at least narrowing them. Many from this
part of the world know the futility of religious divide, let's not exacerbate it. The only way to a harmonious multicultural society is
assimilation and education has a fundamental role to
play to this end.
I am an atheist. My nearest school is a 'religious' school. As every parent knows, to get into a school like this, the criteria is not at as simple as merely being the nearest, as it should be. Many parents attend associated religious establishments, purely to achieve acceptance for their children into these schools. My Atheism stops me behaving like this, and so my children may have to travel further a field for their education.
I teach at a Jewish school. The ethos of the school is to teach the children about culture/theology/practices of the Jewish faith, alongside a broader education about the real world. The Jewish population in Britain is declining due to people marrying out of the faith. The purpose of a Jewish school, is to bring Jewish children together so that they learn about their faith whilst mixing socially with other Jewish children.
The idea of the spread of single faith schools terrifies me. Children should not be herded into groups based on religious beliefs. Children of all faiths should mix and learn about each other's beliefs within school. If after school they need to attend classes based on their particular culture or belief then fine, the school buildings should be available for free or at a reduced rate.
I have a friend who went to a Catholic school and has told me that he did not have a Protestant friend until he went to university. An important function of school is to create friendship groups. We need to encourage friendships across religious barriers and thereby reduce the chances of conflict along the lines of faith. To organise schools along the lines of faith is clearly ridiculous.
I think it is high time in this day and age that we put religion firmly where it belongs - IN THE BIN. After all it has been the cause of so many wars and why do we need it? If people are that insecure that they need something to hang on to try a blanket or something - at least that would not cause world wars.
Single faith schools are a great idea, especially Islamic schools and schools of other faiths that teach that religion does not recognise race. Islam teaches that ALL HUMANS ARE ONE RACE. Islam does not distinguish between black, white, Asian etc unlike Judaism and some Christian religions.
Having worked in a Catholic school I am so glad I didn't send my own children there! I left because of the lack of discipline.
In all state schools our children have to learn about all religions. This should also be imposed on single faith schools.
If Christian belief is excluded from schools it is right that evolution is excluded because it is a faith as well. After millions of fossils they have never proven one link or continuous trail of proof.
Methinks the chattering classes chatter too much. What is the problem here? Can we stop inflicting our religious dogma (or lack of it) on everyone else? Let Catholics have their schools, C of E and Muslims have theirs. Just let the heads of those schools make arrangements for their pupils to go and interrelate with others in ALL kinds of schools. You never know the kids might like it!!
Uncle filming university days?
Audience question: What would the panel have thought if they knew that their uncle was filming their university days? You said:
I can't help but smile at the lunacy of the whole situation. After years of the Royal Family moaning about the lack of privacy they get from the media they then find that they are betrayed by one of their own.
English cricket team play in Zimbabwe?
Audience question: Should the English cricket team play in Zimbabwe? You said:
Is it because we may have to suffer the embarrassment of losing against this nation that politics are once again creeping into the game?
I don't think there is a problem. As a Zimbabwean who is an ardent cricket fan I think it would be unfair to take away pleasure from the ordinary people. I agree with Peter Hain, there are other measures that can be taken. I love my country but cannot be there because of the current economic conditions. Please do not punish the ordinary man in the street.
General comments on the programme:
Excellent programme BBC! I thought the panel was excellent, especially Bonnie and George - many thought provoking comments, leading to an indepth debate and the quality I expect. Well done for a superb show!
Absolutely great. I thoroughly enjoyed the hour and sat glued to the screen. Good choice of people on the panel and the questions were sooooooo relevant. I think they also cleared a lot of the misconceptions and hype that the media is generating. Programmes like yours further openness and fight the aim
of terrorism in the world. Keep up the good work.
I think that the programme is losing the plot. Surely it is possible to have panellists who have something worthwhile to say.
I am writing to express my thanks at the excellent programme that was aired yesterday. I was exceptionally impressed at the way that Mr Dimbleby handled the questions, allowed adequate time for the audience to have their say and took a wide cross section of questions and opinions. A most impressive show! Well done and keep up the good work.
Once again where were the hawks as the panel was biased by three to two with doves. Are all people who cry avenge this crime removed from our debates? We hear the cries of those supporting this terrible act. I don't agree with either but where is the balance?
At last the people and decision makers of this country are talking about Islam and Afghanistan rationally with a clear conscience. The comments and discussions brought up in today's programme have made me proud to be a British Muslim national.
This is the first time I have switched off. The last programme was partisan but again we have a panel and audience that seem to have forgotten too readily that 7,000 people of many nationalities are dead. These terrorists make no demands so how do you negotiate?
Once again an audience which is self-evidently unrepresentative of the general population.
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