Distinguished Professor Ali Riaz in a commentary on the 20th anniversary of 9/11 described the day not only as a day of remembrance but also of reckoning. He noted that the so-called “war on terror” launched by the United States after the terrorist attacks in 2001 has impacted the entire world.

“Terrorism is a strategy, which can be adopted by anyone at any point; yet, a war was declared against it by the U.S. and its allies, leaving it to our imagination as to what is meant by the war on terror,” Riaz wrote. “To say that it was ambiguous is an understatement. It turned out to be an action to serve the geopolitical and economic interests of a few countries.”

Riaz also emphasized that many countries were quick to join the bandwagon as their rulers saw it fit their own interests. In its name, rulers of various countries, particularly authoritarians, have grabbed more power, increased surveillance over common citizens, and enacted laws limiting fundamental rights. The binary frame of us versus them evoked after the attacks has not only put the Muslim community at risk but also contributed to the pernicious divide in U.S. politics, the rise of white supremacist extremism, and anti-Muslim hatred, Riaz wrote.