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Civil parade of faiths
Terrorism has no face or nationality

By Shahla Samii
March 28, 2002
The Iranian

More than six months have passed since the horrendous attacks on the United States, and the "War on Terrorism".

Focusing on ridding Afghanistan of its fanatical Islamic government and capturing and killing members of the al Qaeda network, led by Osama Bin Laden, the world community at large backed the war and the coalition waging it.

That was just the beginning. Since then it has become clear that there is more to come; more than was first perceived or expected. There are many doubts and questions. Now the debate is whether diplomacy and dialogue, trade and monetary aid, or a little bit of this and a little bit of that, will be a better solution to counter terrorism.

The problem is that you cannot buy off terrorists and fanatics. Has anyone come forward with handing over Bin Laden, although there was a vast sum of money offered for his capture, dead or alive?

Has the world forgotten that Iranian parents sent their young sons into mine fields during the war with Iraq -- not for money but for plain fanatical belief that their sons were going to become martyrs?

What about the Palestinian suicide bombers of all ages who die willingly for their cause and do not care how many other innocent people die with them?

Terrorists and governments led by terrorist mentality do not care that they have lost whatever legitimate cause they may have had with their evil deeds. The people who are brainwashed into this mentality also lose sight of reason and other means of pursuing a legitimate goal.

In the past, the infamous Carlos ("The Jackal") would kidnap government officials demanding large sums of money for their unharmed release, and then use the money to fund Communist rebels in Latin American countries. The Palestinian terrorist, Abu Nidal, pirated a cruise ship in the Mediterranean demanding the release of his colleagues from Israeli jails.

On 9/11, when the World Trade Center towers were pulverized by 2 ramming jetliners, there were no demands from terrorists. Later, in trying to feign a fight for justice, Bin Laden and his henchmen espoused the Palestinian cause just as Saddam Hossein did after invading Kuwait.

Last Sunday I had a most unusual encounter while taking a walk on a mild spring day in New York city. As I left my home in the early afternoon, I saw a group of women standing at a corner chatting, while holding palm leaves in their hands. I realized it is Palm Sunday, part of the Christian Easter holidays.

As I walked on, I saw Orthodox Jews walking with their families. I remembered it is the Jewish Passover. Then I saw more and more people dressed in black, women wearing scarves or veils, walking in the same direction as I.

A few blocks down, I saw police cars and policemen stopping traffic for a crowd of marchers. As I came closer, I heard chants. I saw men beating their chest, commemorating Ashoura, a Shi'ite day of mourning.

Over the years I had seen similar parades take place in New York, but never on such a large scale. I saw young boys holding posters with slogans, such as : "Islam is for Peace" or "We are against Terrorism" and "We object to Bin Laden", and there were words on some against the September 11 attacks.

I passed an elderly couple at a traffic light, where one was asking the other, "Is this a parade or a demonstration?"

Three homeless men with bags of empty cans, stopped and anxiously watched the approaching crowd, fear showing on their faces.

Suddenly I felt tears come to my eyes. I was looking at hundreds of believers, good people who genuinely practice their faith and religion, who had come out in force to both show unity and make their statement that not all Muslims are terrorists.

I realized that terrorism has no face or nationality in our new century. I was saddened, but at the same time saw around me different nationalities, different religious groups, men, women and children of different ethnicity's, all living in one great city, practicing their beliefs and customs, working and surviving together. That is a civil society, and that is what the West is fighting for around the world.

Unfortunately and without doubt, terrorists have become a breed apart, no longer in the mainstream of a civilized, rational world. They can no longer be dealt with through dialogue or better economic incentives. Terrorism has evolved to such a degree that it has to be eradicated from its root.
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Shahla Samii


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