"The Taliban in Afghanistan tell us that they are preparing for
a massive American attack. They are wise to do so. But how many
of the victims will be Taliban leaders who detest Osama bin Laden?
How many will be poor Afghans living under the Taliban's repression,
Afghans who are suffering hunger and barely have a place to live?"
This quote is translated from the article "Who
are to die when the U.S. gets revenge?" in the Swedish newspaper
Aftonbladet. The sentiments of the Scandinavian press go out to
the innocent lives that were lost last Tuesday, 11 September --
and the grieving nation left behind. Yet, the gruesome fate that
came so unexpectedly this week to the victims of the terrorist attacks
is a fate that no innocent person should ever again have to face
-- regardless of nationality, location of residence, or religious
belief. This is the recurring message in the Scandinavian news media.
Now that the enemy has been "identified," there is growing concern
that an American retaliation will do nothing but mark the U.S. as
a vindictive nation, targeting a whole country and not the people
behind the deed. At first, the media was in shock covering what
happened. To some degree, this has now turned to a closer look at
how desperate and anxious Afghanistan families are attempting to
flee from their homeland, fearing a possible American retribution.
Verdens Gang (Norway) publishes: Ahmad fled from Kabul, via
Jahllabad. "I was scared. I was there for only three days, yet it
felt like three months. Everybody is afraid, expecting the attack
to come. People are inundating this border post because it is still
open and thus give them an ounce of hope," he explains.
Nett - Spent på grensen
Reaching the Pakistani border, these families are reportedly met
by guards, policemen, and military personnel charging between 200
and 300 rubles per person for permission to cross the border. Some
families have too many children and family members to afford this
price of "freedom" and have nowhere to go. The Scandinavian press
is concerned that if an attack is launched against Afghanistan,
the unavoidable loss of innocent lives in this country will fuel
a new hatred toward the American nation -- creating a "spiral effect"
of violence that might never end. Aftonbladet in Sweden writes:
"Revenge gives birth to new martyrs -- so that new seeds of young
terrorists can grow."
There is also widespread news coverage of Scandinavian citizens
who reside or are visiting the U.S. Two of Norway's most prominent
online papers, Verdens Gang and Dagbladet
are now integrating news stories with online
bulletin boards for Norwegian citizens to come together and share
with those at home what they have seen and experienced in the U.S.
In the first hours after the attacks, when intercontinental phone
communications were difficult or impossible, some Norwegians in
New York City used these online forums as a way of communicating
to their families that they were alive and well. Journalists later
interviewed some of the people behind these stories. The subject
headers of posted messages were indicators of the confusion and
the widely perceived level of helplessness: "No words", "Unbelievable",
"Shocked", "I just can't believe it", "It is like a movie" -- many
messages ended with the words, "God bless America". Through this
medium, enormous support has been expressed for the American people,
but many of those who wrote also expressed a desire to return home,
acknowledging that the U.S. now will change forever as a consequence
of the attacks.
The Norwegian television broadcasters, NRK and TV2, received some
critique for repeatedly showing the scenes where the aircrafts crashed
into the WTC towers. Psychologist Atle Dyregrov warned through an
that: ".. an ongoing repetition of these clips will eventually destroy
people's capability to show sympathy. You will reach a point of
tiredness, where you feel you have had enough and emotionally shut
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