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"Our world is as polarized as it was at the height of the Cold War and in many ways far more dangerous," said Khan

CAIRO — US President George Bush's so-called war on terror is dividing the world, fueling serious human rights abuses and has helped him consolidate his power, Amnesty International said it its comprehensive annual report issued on Wednesday, May 23.
"The 'war on terror' and the war in Iraq, with their catalogue of human rights abuses, have created deep divisions that cast a shadow on international relations," said Irene Khan, Amnesty Secretary General.

"Our world is as polarized as it was at the height of the Cold War and in many ways far more dangerous."

Following the 9/11 attacks, Bush unleashed what he describes as a global war against terrorism.

This included two preemptive wars against Afghanistan and then Iraq, without a UN mandate.

Since then, the US and many Western countries have also drafted draconian legislations in the name of fighting terrorism.

"Ill-conceived counter-terrorism strategies have done little to reduce the threat of violence or ensure justice for victims of terrorism but much to damage human rights and the rule of law globally," said Khan.

In its newest report, the US National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) said Muslims are taking the brunt of the world's terrorist attacks, which in 2006 rose by 3,000 or 25 percent.

It confirmed that the occupation of Iraq and invasions Afghanistan were serving as a "rallying cry" for terrorists.


Amnesty said that many governments were playing the cloak of fear to erode human rights in the name of greater security.

"The politics of fear are fuelling a downward spiral of human rights abuses in which no right is sacrosanct," Khan said.

The London-based watchdog accused the US of trampling on human rights and accused Bush of invoking fears of terrorism to enhance his executive powers.

"Five years after 9/11, new evidence came to light in 2006 of the way in which the US administration treated the world as one giant battlefield for its 'war on terror,'" said Khan.

Amnesty found the US guilty of "breathtakingly shameless" double speak, claiming to be promoting human rights while at the same time brazenly flouting international law.

"Nothing more aptly portrayed the globalization of human rights violations than the US-led 'war on terror' and its program of 'extraordinary renditions' which implicated governments in countries as far apart as Italy and Pakistan, Germany and Kenya," Khan said.

Last year, evidence revealed how "the US administration treated the world as one giant battlefield for its 'war on terror', kidnapping, arresting, arbitrarily detaining, torturing and transferring suspects from one secret prison to another across the world with impunity," she added.

Hundreds of people have now been transferred by the US and its allies through these secret renditions to countries where torture is condoned such as Syria, Jordan and Egypt.

"In this shadowy system they risk enforced disappearance, torture and other ill-treatment."

Amnesty also said Washington remains deaf to pleas to shut down its notorious Guantanamo detention center, where hundreds of suspects have been held without charge or trial incommunicado.

It scolded the Bush administration for its "continued failure to hold senior government officials accountable for torture and other ill-treatment of 'war on terror' detainees despite evidence that abuses had been systematic."

The US "is unrepentant about the global web of abuse it has spun in the name of counter-terrorism," Khan wrote.

"It is oblivious to the distress of thousands of detainees and their families, the damage to the rule of international law and human rights and the destruction of its own moral authority, which has plummeted to an all-time low."


Amnesty said that the anti-terror policies have fuelled discrimination and intolerance against Muslims, Arabs and other ethnic minorities in Western countries.

"Fear and hostility on one side have led to alienation and anger on the other," Khan wrote.

"Increasing polarization has strengthened the hands of extremists at both ends of the spectrum, reducing the space for tolerance and dissent."

Amnesty said that incidents of Islamophobia and anti-Semitism are increasingly evident, citing the Danish failure to protect Muslims living in Denmark from discrimination and social exclusion.

A recent report by the European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia said that Muslim minorities in Europe face deep-seated discrimination in jobs, education and housing.

"In many parts of the world, anti-western and anti-American sentiments are at an all-time high, as demonstrated by the ease with which some groups fomented violence following the publication in Denmark of cartoons that many Muslims found offensive."

Click to read Amnesty annual report in Full

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