On September 11, terrorism took on a whole new meaning for people in the U.S. Here, activists from around the globe, many from places wracked by violence, speak out on the state of the world, the prospects for peace, and the place of women in a time of terror.
Part I of III
Sima Samar, M.D., director of Shuhada Organization for Afghan women and children, Quetta, Pakistan
I am 46 years old, and I have never seen such a culture in Afghanistan. Fundamentalism, drug producing, drug smuggling, and fanaticism were never our culture. They were imposed on us by the Taliban and Osama bin Laden. n Everyone is asking the Taliban to hand over Osama bin Laden, but that is not possible. Maybe Osama can hand over the Taliban, but the Taliban are not strong enough to hand over Osama.
I strongly oppose the military attack on Afghanistan because it’s very difficult to distinguish between the real enemy and civilians. We have the example of Iraq: Saddam Hussein is still fat, and the people are dying of hunger.
I think the U.S. must help create a broad-based government that includes all ethnic groups. Women want full participation. We are the majority of the population but we have been ignored for two decades. That is not Islamic. Without women, the situation in my country will go back to how it was with the Taliban.
We kept telling U.S. diplomats that the problems Afghanistan has suffered will hurt all humanity. Now we see the result, and now we need sisterhood. We cannot do it alone.
Jody Williams, 1997 Nobel Peace Prize co-winner for her work with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, Fredericksburg, Virginia
Those who perpetrated this heinous crime need to be brought to justice in a court of law. Their network needs to be dismantled. But in my 20 years of activism, I have seen that a violent response to violence creates a breeding ground for continued terrorism.
Here in the U.S. we are being told that to ask why we are a target of terrorist attacks is unpatriotic at best, treasonous at worst. To ask why terror has reached our shores is not to condone terrorism; it is to try to understand the root causes so we can “dry up the sea in which the fish swim.” We are told that this campaign against terror has been undertaken to protect freedom. But if we cannot ask “Why?” what are we protecting? Must we not ask who is the biggest arms dealer in the world? Must we not ask who armed and trained the terrorists in these networks?
I do not believe that peace is the mere absence of war or some dreamy vision. Building peace is damned hard work. It is built by thousands of small acts every day. Peace is about creating a world where the real fundamentals of national security are basic education, health care, and housing for all. Building peace is creating a public will to deal with guns here in the U.S. We cannot embrace multilateralism when it’s in our interest, and then go it alone when it’s not on issues like global warming, biological weapons, our export of small arms, and the conference on racism and discrimination. If “we” do to “them” what they do to us, how are we different?
Nawal El Saadawi, president of the Arab Women’s Solidarity Association, Cairo, Egypt
Terrorism is how you use and abuse power. We’ve suffered a lot because of U.S. intervention in our region. Economic terrorism and economic genocide are found in the Middle East and in Africa because of the World Bank, the IMF, and multinational companies. Some people say Israel practices state terrorism against Palestinians, and the U.S. practices it against Iraq. Although I am against the killing of civilians on September 11, this has long been happening in our region and it has to stop. I was astonished when Bush used the word “justice” after the attacks. Justice was never used when Arabs or Africans were being killed.
There is a positive and negative aspect to Septemb