To Atta, the French planners' imposition of modernist urbanism on this "Islamic-Oriental city" wasn't just architecturally ugly—it undermined the traditional Islamic culture of the neighborhood. So did globalization, an economic force of impersonal, mechanistic transactions that bestows inordinate power on wealthy, non-Muslim countries. (In his thesis, Atta worries that Syria's pro-market reforms coupled with a possible Middle East peace deal could give Israel, the most developed economy in the region, a dominant role in Syrian commerce.) By rebuilding the physical structures of the neighborhood, Atta felt he could purge the neighborhood of foreign influence, not just foreign architecture.
Posted by Steve S at 1:30 AM
Slate posted a fine piece yesterday about Mohammad Atta, very much worth your time: