Hillary Clinton compares Gabrielle Giffords shooting to 9/11 attacks
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton compared the man who shot Gabrielle Giffords to Islamist terrorists and the 9/11 attackers and said the incident showed America and the Arab world faced similar problems.
By Richard Spencer, Abu Dhabi 6:33PM GMT 10 Jan 2011
In a television broadcast filmed before students in Abu Dhabi, Mrs Clinton was asked why the 9/11 terror attacks, the work of a handful of men, had been allowed to colour American views of a whole people.
She replied that America was “proud” of its many Muslim citizens and public servants, and said that the media exaggerated the voices of those who presented hostile views of the Muslim and Arab worlds.
She then raised the shooting at the weekend of the Arizona Democratic congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords.
“We have extremists in our country,” she said. “A wonderful and incredibly brave young woman congress member was just shot by extremists in our country.
“We have the same kinds of problems, so rather than standing off of each other we should work to try and prevent the extremists wherever they are from being able to commit violence.”
Ascribing the Arizona shootings to political extremism rather than the work of a mentally deranged loner has already proved controversial, and President Barack Obama avoided doing so directly in his address to the American people afterwards.
Mrs Clinton may be taking an even bigger risk in comparing the attack, even obliquely, to al-Qaeda’s war on America.
She was taking part in the first event of a tour of the Middle East aimed at securing continued support for sanctions against Iran and showing American diplomatic commitment to the region. The state department was severely embarrassed by WikiLeaks cables which revealed private conversations between the region’s leaders and American diplomats, often contradicting governments’ official policies.
The television broadcast took the form of a sit-down interview with three women journalists from Kalam Nawaem, or Sweet Talk, a series loosely based on “The View”, an American current affairs chat show.
Amongst other things, it aims to advertise the larger roles being played by women in public life in the Gulf region.
Mrs Clinton was asked questions about how to balance personal and public roles as a woman, but the most intense questioning concerned American Middle East policy, the Israel-Palestinian peace process, and the image of the Arab world in America.
She said that since 9/11, Islamist terrorists had been far more destructive to the lives of Muslims, and said they were often nihilists whose actions could win support from no one.
“This president and this administration are trying to isolate the extremists and not to let the extremists colour the views of any place,” she said.