Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Unfiltered Voices: Moving Beyond Osama Bin Laden

SAVE Sisters from around the world have continued to raise their voices and to share their concerns on the death of Osama Bin Laden.

Mbarka Bouaida is the youngest ever elected member of Morocco’s Parliament, and Chair of the Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, National Defense, and Religious Affairs.

Mbarka says: “I am happy to have received news of Bin Laden’s death, but we need to keep working to stop terrorism. I am concerned as a Muslim, and what they propagate should not be our education. I don’t think they [the terrorists] are religious at all; they are not Muslim.

Furthermore, women are directly linked to security issues, and even terrorist ideologies, because women are concerned about education. There are different ways to educate people, and we need to reinforce the role of women in education. We must give women more tools, authority, and rights.

I believe that women are much more sensitive to peace and security than men are, and so women have more potential. But this potential is not very well developed, and it is not very well used.

While I am happy about the news we received yesterday, I am very shocked about what happened in Marrakech. My thoughts go out to all of the families. They didn’t deserve for this to happen, but this will not stop us. We need to be stronger to face the terrorists.”

Mossarat Qadeem is Executive Director of the PAIMAN Trust in Pakistan, and a SAVE Pakistan partner.

Mossarat says: “’Obama gets Osama’ is the news reverberating around the world today. Remember, with Osama’s death, terrorism and terrorists do not end. Today, Al-Qaeda has declared war against Pakistan. One never knows how many more women will be made widows, how many children will be made orphans, and how many women and men will be rendered disabled, handicapped for life in our country. Pakistan, where 30,000 common people and 5,000 security forces have been killed over the last few years in various terrorist incidents, is being warned once again.

If we really want to address the menace of extremism, we need to recognize the role women can play in moderating extremism. It is the mothers, the sisters, and the wives who, if empowered and enlightened, can influence the heart, mind, and soul of their relatives. It is she who notices the first sign of attitudinal and behavioral changes, if any, and it is this woman who has the ability to influence a mind set and who can dissuade her children and husband from joining Taliban forces and hence can combat extremism. We the women prioritize health, education, and job creation—issues essential to increasing societal well-being in the long term and decreasing the conditions that breed extremism. The power of women must be recognized in helping the world to get rid of terrorism and terrorists.

Arshi Hashmi is an Assistant Professor at the National Defense University in Islamabad.

Arshi says: “Pakistanis have had yet another shock to deal with: the weak state, hostile relations with neighbors, a bad economy, extremism at home and now the most wanted terrorist is dead after an operation in a city near our own capital. We cannot even rejoice, the way people all over the world are rejoicing. Pakistanis are asking a number of questions, not to others but of themselves. What went wrong with the state which was established by the founder Mr. Jinnah as a place for all to live with dignity and equality, irrespective of their religious beliefs? Pakistanis at this point in history are calculating the gravity of any step they might take in the future, for any wrong decision would take the country down to total destruction.

Fed up with all sorts of violence (ethnic, religious and political), Pakistanis are now just thinking one thing: ‘we want to come out of this mess,’ and it seems that in the coming days there will be a great deal of debates on Pakistan's role in the war against terrorism. Pakistanis do not own Osama; some people may feel sympathetic toward him but the entire population believes that Pakistan no longer wants to be a "safe haven" for rebels who do not have a place in their own countries. Pakistanis in our media are discussing that we have had enough of other people's wars in our land, be it Afghan jihad, or the Palestinian issue. Pakistanis need to live in peace and want prosperity.

Just one message to all those who still think Pakistan is a "safe haven" for their evil agendas:

Sorry, Pakistan is not available for any kind of so-called wrongly interpreted ‘jihad.’”

Nadia al-Sakkaf is the Editor-in-Chief of the Yemen Times, the leading English-language newspaper in Yemen.

Nadia says: “It is amazing how media has made of the name of Osama bin Laden a symbol of terrorism. Now that he is dead will that mean terrorism is over, or does it mean we will need to identify the next symbol and make a media case of him?

The world needs to remember that extremism is not individuals; rather, it is a culture that derives its strength from power imbalances and injustices, and this is much harder to get rid of.”

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