Back to Boston.com



Search Assistance
Questions
Search help
Search fees
Account info
Help and feedback
Copyright information
Search NY Times
Search other papers


Sections
Boston Globe Online: Page One
Nation | World
Metro | Region
Business
Sports
Living | Arts
Editorials

Related Features Obituaries
Death notices
Globe archives
Web reprints
Buy Globe photos

The Boston Globe OnlineBoston.com Today's Date

WEB A VALUABLE TOOL FOR EDUCATION, RESEARCH

Author(s):    MICHELLE JOHNSON Date: September 27, 2001 Page: C6 Section: Business
Ashow of hands: How many of you tried to call up a major news organization's Web site on Sept. 11 and found yourself staring at a page that wouldn't load?

News sites were overwhelmed in the hours after the attacks on New York and Washington. They were forced to scramble to add server capacity to handle unprecedented traffic spikes. Apparently, they're still not ready for prime time when it comes to delivering breaking news of this scale. On the other hand, the Web served as a key outlet for folks who exchanged information and shared their grief through postings in numerous online forums and chat rooms. E-mail delivered the news that friends and loved ones were OK, as well as many first-hand accounts from those who glimpsed ground zero.

There's another way the Internet can be invaluable during this crisis: research and education. Two weeks ago, many of us would have been hard pressed to find Afghanistan on a map. Daily news accounts are now filled with unfamiliar terms. Most of us know little about the cultures of the people appearing on our TV screens, in the newspapers and in radio reports.

Online there's a wealth of information that can shed some light. If you're starting from scratch, look at sites such as islam101.com, islamicity.com (click "Education Center"), religioustolerance.org/islam.htm, or "About Islam and Muslims" (www.unn.ac.uk/societies/Islamic), which cover the basics in a simple question-and-answer format.

These sites explore Islamic practices, culture, peoples, and history in-depth. Did you know that only about 18 percent of Muslims live in the Arab world? Or that Indonesia is home to the world's largest Muslim community?

Pop quiz: What does the word "jihad" mean? If you responded "holy war," you only get partial credit. At islam.about.com/cs/jihad, you'll find links to Web sites that examine the broader definitions of the term, which essentially means to "strive for a better way of life."

How much do you know about the Taliban? At channel4.com/plus/Afghanistan, a site devoted to "Beneath the Veil," a documentary by filmmaker Saira Shah, you'll learn that Taliban is the plural of the word student, how the group rose to power, and more about the history, geography, and people of Afghanistan. CNN, which recently aired the documentary, has put together a site (cnn.com/CNN/Programs/presents) that includes a photo gallery, video, and interactive maps.

At nationalgeographic.com, you'll find links to maps, audio, a photo essay that revisits the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan in 1996, and a look at the resistance.

Click on "Islam" at beliefnet.com for an essay on the rise of fundamentalism, a piece titled "What Kind of Muslim is Osama bin Laden?" and writings by Muslim Americans on the anti-Muslim backlash occurring around the country. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (cair-net.org) is keeping a running tally of anti-Muslim incidents as well as posting links to news stories related to Islamic issues.

And speaking of bin Laden, PBS' Frontline recently re-aired an updated piece called "Hunting Bin Laden," (pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/binladen) that takes a closer look at the man and his organization. The site includes video of a 1998 interview with bin Laden. Infoplease.com's special section on terrorism (www.info please.com/spot/01terrorism.html) will bring you up to date on bin Laden, Al Qaeda, and US and international policies on terrorism.

The Web has long served as an outlet for expression of a wide range of opinion - good, bad, and ugly, on message boards, in chat rooms, and through e-mail discussion lists.

Whatever your views, a visit to these forums can be eye-opening. But be forewarned: These sites are not for the faint-hearted. Among the sometimes eloquent, heartfelt and honest commentary, you'll find people spewing a lot of racist and downright wacky opinions as well.

Try the news sites: abcnews.com (click "boards" under "interact"), cnn.com ("message board" under "resources"), WBUR's the connection, theconnection.org ("The Forums"), msnbc.com ("Opinions"), cbsnews.com ("message boards") for a sampling of current public opinion.

Portal sites such as islamicity.com and islam.about.com carry news and analysis from varying perspectives.

If you're looking to learn more about Muslim and Arab Americans, type "Muslim American" or "Arab American" into the search box at yahoo.com for an extensive list of related links to groups and organizations. If your focus is on the Middle East, the Web site of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Texas at Austin (link.lanic.utexas.edu/menic/) is indexed by country and covers everything from arts and culture to news and current events.

Look for special links and sections on the search engines (yahoo, google, lycos, altavista, and northernlight) for many more.

History and current events have shown that ignorance can be fertile ground for hatred and violence. As we all struggle to make sense of what happened on Sept. 11 and the aftermath, let's arm ourselves with a little knowledge, too.

Return to the home page
of The Boston Globe Online

Copyright 2001 Globe Newspaper Company