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1 Nov, 2001

“Karl Marx Led To My Arrest As A ‘Terrorist’ In Germany”

1. ECONOMIC CHALLENGES FACING ASIA-PACIFIC: A group of “Eminent Persons” invited by the UN to share their thoughts on the future of Asia-Pacific economies post-Sept 11 outline what they think will need to be done.

2. “KARL MARX LED TO MY ARREST AS A ‘TERRORIST’ IN GERMANY”: A UK commentator of the Muslim faith narrates his experience of the idiotic racial discrimination being faced by Muslim travellers at airport checkpoints.

3. US TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY MEETS WITH AMERICAN MUSLIMS: American Muslims are taking up the problem of airline profiling and traveller discrimination at the highest level. About time for some international travel associations to get involved too.

4. WHAT TO DO IN CASES OF DISCRIMINATION: Some tips from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimnation Committee on how to battle the problem.

5. PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT, US DEPARTMENT OF STATE: The travel advisory to Americans is still out.



A group of eminent persons from 14 countries of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) have called on the regional governments to speedily pursue a reform of the regional financial architecture, as part of a package of measures to get regional economies moving again in the wake of Sept 11. The group said that proposals for regional and subregional monetary cooperation arrangements should be “revived and given serious consideration.”

Reforming the financial architecture, both regional and international, is of tremendous importance to the travel & tourism industry because it is designed to boost stability of the exchange rate system and reduce the risk of attacks by currency speculators. Efforts to reform the financial system have long been resisted by the US government but this call by the eminent persons shows that the matter is heating up again. The Asia-Pacific travel & tourism industry needs to monitor this issue closely because of the clear impact it has on the industry’s health, especially the growing move towards greater regional integration and trade liberalisation.

The following statement issued after the eminent persons meeting also gives some indication of the challenges facing the Asia-Pacific region and some of the policy initiatives that will be necessary to address them. Aside from the call to pursue the reform of financial architecture, several of the other recommended initiatives also will have a clear bearing on the future of regional travel & tourism.

“The world economy, which was already showing signs of a significant slowdown in mid-2001, will experience an even sharper loss of momentum following the 11 September attacks in the US. The current slow-down is the most synchronized among the major economies since the Second World War. The developed economies have taken some measures in the form of coordinated interest rate cuts to counter the slow-down and Japan, along with the United States, has announced new public spending to boost demand in the coming months. However, for governments across the world reviving business and household confidence and sustaining employment growth remain key considerations.

In the present climate of uncertainty, it is difficult to ascertain whether countries are facing a short-term cyclical and shock-related downturn, or whether the problem is of a longer-term structural nature. The answer to this question will affect policy choice. Whereas the 1997 financial crisis was limited to some emerging markets, though with wider knock-on effects and repercussions, the 2001 slow-down is a global phenomenon involving sharp reductions in export and GDP growth rates and likely to affect much of the region through a deterioration in the balance of payments.

Major policy initiatives at the national, regional and international levels are required. Notwithstanding the huge diversity of ESCAP countries in geography, population size, levels of development and approaches to development, certain common problems are also present. In this connection, national governments have a lead role to play.

At the national level

– It is essential that governments should reiterate their commitment to address reform challenges including those raised by the 1997 crisis.

– Despite the downturn, governments should sustain the momentum in achieving greater equity and inclusion, which will promote social cohesion and signify progress in reaching the United Nations Millennium Declaration goals with regard to poverty eradication.

– Until the economic picture is clearer, governments should take measures, as appropriate to their circumstances, to preserve the momentum of growth through counter-cyclical fiscal and monetary policies. Well-targeted, state spending – with emphasis on quality rather than quantity – should be initiated, particularly with a view to fighting poverty. Increased public spending on infrastructure, especially in rural areas, is a route that governments could follow that would improve medium-term competitiveness. Countries with high public debt ratios may prefer to use monetary policy to stimulate private sector investment, for example in industries that have a substantial impact on employment. At the same time, medium-term sound fiscal management should not be unduly compromised.

– It is important that all countries avoid actions, such as protectionism, that would aggravate the risks of a contractionary spiral. Developed countries should accelerate compliance with their commitments on trade liberalization, especially in textiles and agricultural commodities.

At the regional level

– Greater regional cooperation offers a means for ESCAP economies to counter some aspects of the global downturn. The Asia-Pacific region should become a source of stimulus to offset the decline in demand from other regions. This would be facilitated by larger and more developed economies opening their markets unilaterally to the least developed and smaller economies in the region. The region should move forward with growth-enhancing trade agreements and trade facilitation measures.

– Pursuit of the agenda of reform of the financial architecture should continue with due speed in the region. In this connection, proposals for regional and subregional monetary cooperation arrangements should be revived and given serious consideration.

– There should be greater consultation between countries in the region on trade and financial issues. One matter that merits careful consideration is the role that the substantial international reserves, amounting to approximately US$ 800 billion or almost half the world total, held by countries in the region could play in the present situation.

At the international level

– Specific steps should be taken to soften the effects of the impending global slow-down on the most vulnerable groups of countries. These are the least developed, the small Pacific island economies, and the land-locked.

– It is vitally important that the principal donors enhance their ODA flows, which are presently only 0.22 per cent of the GNP of these countries.

– In this connection, the IMF, World Bank, and the regional development banks, should speed up disbursements while paying greater attention to a realistic assessment of the economic conditions of individual countries.

– The IMF Compensatory and Contingency Financing Facility used for dealing with commodities could usefully be extended to assist countries experiencing unexpected declines in services receipts, including tourism revenues, and greatly increased insurance and security costs.”

Eminent persons are the following:

Mr Peter G. Warr, Sir John Crawford Professor of Agriculture Economics, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

Mr Rehman Sobhan, Executive Chairman, Centre for Policy Dialogue, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Ms Lu Aiguo, Senior Fellow, Institute of World Economics and Politics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing, China

Mr Suman K. Bery, Director-General, National Council of Applied Economic Research, New Delhi, India

Mr Djisman Simanjuntak, Executive Director, Prasetiya Mulya Graduate School of Management, Jakarta, Indonesia

Mr Shinichi Ichimura, Director, International Centre for the Study of East Asian Development, Kitakyushu, Japan

Mr Jomo K. Sundaram, Professor of Economics, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Mr Tilak Bahadur Rawal, Governor, Nepal Rastra Bank, Central Office, Kathmandu, Nepal

Mr Bernardo M. Villegas, Dean, School of Economics, University of Asia and the Pacific, Metro Manila, Philippines

Mr Suk Bum Yoon, Professor of Economics, Department of Economics, Yonsei University, Seoul, Republic of Korea

Mr Victor Y. Rosin, Research Officer, Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Moscow, Russian Federation,

Ms Linda Low, Associate Professor, Department of Business Policy, Faculty of Business Administration, National University of Singapore, Singapore

Mr Amarakoon Bandara, Head, International Finance, Economic Research Department, Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Colombo, Sri Lanka,

Mr Thirachai Phuvanat-Naranubala, Assistant Governor, Bank of Thailand, Bangkok, Thailand

Mr Pisit Leeahtam, President & CEO, Thai Telephone and Telecommunications Co. Ltd., Bangkok, Thailand


EDITOR’S NOTE: For an industry that claims to be a builder of peace and friendship between peoples, it is remarkable that not a single travel & tourism association has taken a stand against the widespread instances of discrimination, harrassment and arbitrary checks directed at travellers of “Middle Eastern appearance,” especially those with clearly Islamic names. Had similar incidents occurred against people of other faiths, there would have been hell to pay. But not, apparently, when Muslims are involved.

A search of several websites indicates a blissful lack of interest in or concern about the issue. To those at the receiving of such harassment, it is a major issue, made worse by a total lack of recourse to report complaints. The resulting information vacuum means that no-one know precisely how serious the problem is nor how it could affect destinations and companies in future. An industry that claims to be always very mindful of customer complaints seems rather sanguine about either monitoring or investigating this potential source of complaints.

Here are a number of stories that show how Muslims feel about the issue, insofar as it applies to travel.


The Independent, 30 October 2001


I was arrested at Munich airport at 7am yesterday. After one day of interviews and book signings and two days spent at a Goethe Institute seminar on “Islam and the Crisis”, I was desperate for a cup of coffee. I checked in and soon my hand luggage was wending its way through the security machine. No metal objects were detected, but they insisted on dumping the contents of my bag onto a table. Newspapers, dirty underpants, shirts, magazines and books tumbled out in full view.

Since news always reaches Germany a day after it has appeared in the US press, I thought the locals might be looking for envelopes containing powder in ignorance of FBI and CIA briefings that Osama bin Laden and Iraq were considered unlikely to be involved in the anthrax scare. There were no envelopes in my bag.

The machine-minder brushed aside the copies of the Sued-deutsche Zeitung (SDZ), the International Herald Tribune and Le Monde Diplomatique. He appeared to be very interested in The Times Literary Supplement and was inspecting my scribbled notes on the margin of a particular book review when his eyes fell on a slim volume in German that had been handed to me by a local publisher. Since there had been no time to flick through the volume, it was still wrapped in cellophane. He grasped the text eagerly and then, in a state of some excitement, rushed it over to the armed policeman.

The offending book was an essay by Karl Marx, On Suicide. It was the reference to suicide that had got the policemen really excited. They barely registered the author, though when they did real panic set in and there were agitated exchanges. The way they began to watch me was an indication of their state of mind. They really thought they had got someone. My passport and boarding card were taken from me, I was rudely instructed to re-pack my bag, minus the crucial “evidence” (the SDZ, the TLS and the offending text by Marx), and I was escorted out of the departure area and taken to the police headquarters at the airport.

On the way there the arresting officer gave me a triumphant smile. “After 11 September, you can’t travel with books like this,” he said. “In that case,” I replied, “perhaps you should stop publishing them in Germany, or, better still, burn them in public view.”

Inside headquarters, another officer informed me that it was unlikely I’d be boarding the BA flight and they would make inquiries about later departures. At this point my patience evaporated and I demanded to use a phone. “Who do you want to ring?” he said. “The Mayor of Munich,” I replied. “His name is Christian Ude. He interviewed me about my books and the present crisis on Friday evening at Hugendubel’s bookshop. I wish to inform him of what is taking place.”

The police officer disappeared. A few minutes later another officer (this one sported a beard) appeared and beckoned me to follow him. He escorted me to the flight, which had virtually finished boarding. We did not exchange words. On the plane a German fellow passenger came and expressed his dismay at the police behaviour. He told me how the policeman who had detained me had returned to boast to other passengers of how his vigilance had led to my arrest.

It was a trivial enough episode, but indicative of the mood of the Social Democrat-Green alliance that rules Germany today. It is almost as if many of those who are in power are trying desperately to exorcise their own pasts. While Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder was in Pakistan insisting that there could be no pause in the bombing and that the war of attrition would continue, his Minister for the Interior, Otto Schily, was busy masterminding the new security laws, which threaten traditional civil liberties.

Mr Schily, once a radical lawyer and a friend of the generation of 1968, first acquired public notoriety when he became the defence lawyer for the Baader-Meinhof gang, an urban terrorist network active in the Seventies. It was said at the time that he also supported their activities. In 1980, Mr Schily joined the Greens and was their key spokesman in the fight against the stationing of Cruise and Pershing missiles in Germany. In 1989, he moved further by joining the Social Democrats. Today he is busy justifying extra powers for the police and instilling a sense of “realism” in his Green coalition partners.

One of the “realist” proposals being discussed is granting jurisdiction to the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (the German equivalent of the FBI) so that it has the right to spy on individuals it suspects of working against the “causes of international understanding or the peaceful coexistence of nations”. And since – in the debased coinage of the present – “peaceful coexistence of nations” includes waging war against some of them, I suppose that my experience was a dress rehearsal for what is yet to come. It was a tiny enough scratch, but, if untreated, these can lead to gangrene.




Representatives of the American Muslim and Arab-American community met on October 26 with Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta to discuss a variety of issues related to airline safety and security, including that of racial, ethnic and religious profiling of passengers.

Mineta previously served as U.S. Secretary of Commerce under President Clinton, becoming the first Asia-Pacific American to serve in the cabinet. While in Congress, Mineta was the driving force behind passage of H.R. 442, the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which officially apologized for and redressed the injustices endured by Japanese Americans during the War. In 1995, George Washington University awarded the Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Medal to Mineta for his contributions to the field of civil rights. (SEE: http://www.dot.gov/affairs/mineta.htm).

Muslim and Arab groups represented at the two-hour meeting included the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) and the Islamic Institute. Representatives from the Japanese-American and Sikh communities also attended the meeting.

CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad made a presentation to Secretary Mineta outlining the more than 90 cases of airline passenger profiling that have been reported to that group’s civil rights department. (These reports included incidents in which pregnant women were poked to check their pregnancies.) Awad suggested the creation of a civil rights advisory panel for airline security along with sensitivity training for security personnel.

CAIR has received more than 1,000 reports of anti-Muslim incidents, ranging from verbal harassment to murder, since the terrorist attacks of September 11. Many of these incidents have involved those who, like Sikhs and Christian Arabs, who are perceived to be Muslims or “Middle Eastern-looking.” (SEE: http://www.cair-net.org).

“Passenger profiling should be rejected not only because it violates American values of equality and justice, but because it also creates a false sense of security for the traveling public,” said CAIR Board Chairman Omar Ahmad. “It is important that we improve airport safety by increasing the level of training and professionalism for those who screen passengers and by applying heightened security measures to all travelers, not just to those who fit a stereotypical image of what a terrorist should look like,” said Ahmad.

There are some seven million Muslims in America and an estimated 1.2 billion worldwide. CAIR CONTACT: Ibrahim Hooper at 202-488-8787. E-Mail: cair@cair-net.org



If some enlightened national tourism organisations, airlines, airports and industry associations feel that the issue is worth taking up, if not for moral and ethical reasons then perhaps in order to stave off legal problems in future, here is an example of what is being done by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee which has set up advisory and complaint-reporting facilities for those who feel they are being victimised. Although this applies mainly to US citizens, it a template that travel industry associations can use to build their own anti-discrimination programmes.

Airline Passenger Profiling:

File a complaint with the US DoT by calling the Aviation Consumer Protection Division at the following phone numbers: 1-202-366-2220, 1-202-336-5957, or 1-202-336-5945 or send email to airconsumer@ost.dot.gov. Alternately, send detailed complaint letters to: Aviation Consumer Protection Division, US Department of Transportation, Room 4107, C-75, Washington, DC 20590.

Employment Discrimination:

File a complaint by calling the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission at the following phone numbers: 1-202-663-4814 (Hotline) or 1-800-669-4000.

Hate Crimes:

Call the local Police Department and file a police report.

Education Discrimination:

File a complaint by calling the Educational Opportunities Section at the following phone number: 1-202-514-4092.

Contact the ADC Education and Outreach Department to report incident at 1-202-244-2990, (fax) 1-202-244-3196, or send email to marvinw@adc.org.

In all cases, it is also possible to contact the ADC Legal Department to report the incident and consult with an attorney at 1-202-244-2990, (fax) 1-202-244-3196, or send email to legal@adc.org.



Worldwide Caution October 23, 2001

The US Government remains deeply concerned about the security of Americans overseas. On October 7, 2001, the US Government initiated military action pursuant to its inherent right of self-defense recognized in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, after the events of September 11 in the United States. As a result, there is a potential for strong anti-American sentiment and for retaliatory actions to be taken against US citizens and interests throughout the world by terrorists and those who harbor grievances against the United States. The Department urges Americans to review their circumstances carefully and to take all appropriate measures to ensure their personal safety. Americans are urged to monitor the local news and maintain contact with the nearest American Embassy or Consulate. The Department will continue to develop information about potential threats to Americans overseas and to share with them credible threat information through its Consular Information Program documents. These documents are available on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov

US citizens and interests abroad remain at increased risk of terrorist attacks, including by groups with links to Usama Bin Ladin’s Al-Qaida organization. These individuals do not distinguish between official and civilian targets. There has been unconfirmed information that terrorist actions may be taken against US military facilities and/or establishments frequented by US military personnel in Korea and Japan.

Reports of and confirmed cases of exposure to Anthrax have caused an increase in anxiety over possible attacks using chemical and biological agents (CBA). Currently, the method of delivery of Anthrax has been by letter or package. While the risk of such attacks is limited, it cannot be excluded. The Department will promptly share with American citizens overseas any credible information about threats to their safety. Americans should stay informed and be prepared for any eventuality.

In light of the above information, US Government facilities worldwide remain at a heightened state of alert. US Government facilities have and will continue to temporarily close or suspend public services as necessary to review their security posture and ensure its adequacy. In those instances, US Embassies and Consulates will make every effort to provide emergency services to American citizens.

US citizens planning to travel abroad should consult the Department of State’s Public Announcements, Travel Warnings, Consular Information Sheets, Fact Sheets, and regional travel brochures, all of which are available at the Consular Affairs Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov . We (the State Department) will continue to provide updated information should it become available. American citizens overseas may contact the American Citizens Services unit of the nearest US Embassy or Consulate by telephone or fax for up-to-date information on security conditions. American citizens in need of emergency assistance should telephone the nearest US Embassy or Consulate before visiting there.

In addition to information on the Internet, US travelers may hear recorded information by calling the Department of State in Washington, D.C. at 202-647-5225 from their touch-tone telephone, or receive information by automated telefax by dialing 202-647-3000 from their fax machine.

This Public Announcement supersedes the Public Announcements – Worldwide Cautions of October 7 and September 28, 2001 to consolidate the information and to note concern with regard to reports of exposure to Anthrax. This Public Announcement expires on April 19, 2002.