Thursday, July 14, 2011

BREAKING NEWS: Reactions to the Mumbai Bombings

Yesterday, three bombs exploded in Mumbai, India, killing at least 18 people and injuring more than 100, in the fourth terrorist attacks on India’s financial capital since 2003. Two and a half years ago, on 26 November 2008, 164 people lost their lives as terrorists invaded the city in a series of coordinated bombing and shooting attacks. For SAVE, Mumbai has a special significance, because it was on that day in 2008 that we held our first international conference, bringing 33 women from around the world together to strategize on new ways to counter violent extremism.

Yesterday’s attacks are a reminder of the importance of the SAVE mission. Mumbai unfortunately seems to be just as vulnerable today as during the fateful days of 26/11. We must recognize the need for smart security that does not rely solely on military or police responses. Prevention of terrorism begins at the community level, where frustrations, anger and disillusion take root. Women can be key allies in educating the next generation to take the non-violent response and to bridge divides rather than exacerbate them. SAVE is currently running the Mothers for Change! Confidence and Computer training workshop in Mumbai with women whose relatives were on duty as police officers during the 26/11 terror attacks. The workshop is an integrated confidence-building, peace education and income-generation program. The program allows women to bring something to the table, therefore increasing their decision-making power in the home, while also teaching them mediation techniques and encouraging them to intervene when youth show signs of radicalization. This pilot program is a first step in the step-by-step process of changing attitudes.

SAVE Sisters and women leaders around the world raise their voices against violent extremism and the latest attacks in Mumbai.

Archana Kapoor, SAVE India  
Archana Kapoor, SAVE India

Archana Kapoor was in Mumbai yesterday coordinating the SAVE Mothers for Change! Confidence and Computer Training workshop.
I or any of the women I work with could have been a victim of the 13/7 terror attack in Mumbai. I am so glad that my trainees, trainers and I are safe. But what about those 18 casualties and their families? The 150 injured? On July 12, the day before the attacks, I spent a lot of time thinking about how to commemorate the anniversary of 26/11. A lot of people I talked to were not convinced about doing another event. It seemed that many more people were losing their lives in accidents. But this attack on a normal day, on an otherwise peaceful day, has made us all sit up and think again. Acts of terror and extremism confront us every day, and we cannot just sit back and thank God for keeping us and our close ones safe. SAVE India works towards empowering women to say NO to extremism. It is in this spirit that SAVE started the Mothers for Change! Confidence and Computer Training. The resilience of the women of Mumbai is apparent through the 100% attendance in all three of our classes today.

Dr. Kanchana Mahadevan, Reader, Department of Philosophy, University of Mumbai
These blasts are reminders of how our lives are fragile and deeply interconnected. Like the previous instances, yesterday's violent acts too are perhaps skewed ways of settling scores for not getting justice in courts of law. The people who have died and who have been hurt are suffering for the wrongs that have been perpetuated by others. Our responses have to be empathetic and balanced. Besides helping the victims, what we also need are efforts to build confidence amidst diverse communities, so that such violence is abandoned. For this we need the courts of law to deliver justice, we need jobs, we need cultures that cut across communal lines. Mumbai has risen to such confidence-building in the past - it did so yesterday, it will continue to do so in the future. Citizens- women in particular- have taken the lead in constructing such multiple spaces. All of us have to continue with these measures, and keep our resilience and compassion alive.

Seema Mustafa, Journalist and Television Presenter, Delhi
The government has to be commended for not making wild guesses, as politicians usually do, as to who is behind the attack. But one can say with almost total certainty that once the wails of the victims and their relatives subside, the planted stories aimed at dividing society will start appearing in the media. It is important now for the Opposition to be responsible and not make statements that polarize sentiment along communal lines. Who did it is of course an important question, more so as no organization has claimed responsibility. But given the fact that the Indian investigating agencies have chased shadows for years before realizing entirely different organizations for responsible for attacks such as the Mecca Masjid blasts, the Samjhauta train blasts, it is important for the authorities to establish facts before addressing the media. Scores of innocent persons were arrested, tortured and maimed in custody for crimes they had not committed. This creates tensions that cut into the secular fabric of the country, and this must be avoided. The aftermath of a terror attack, if badly handled, can have long term repercussions as devastating for a wounded country as the blast itself.

Professor Anuradha M. Chenoy, Professor of International Relations at Jawharlal University and Author of Militarism and Women in South Asia, Delhi

The bomb blasts in Mumbai, last evening, have traumatized the city and India once again. The purpose of the terrorists remains the same: To create public fear in communities against each other, so that people retreat from secular public spaces into primary identity groups that extract their loyalty and obedience. Fundamentalists use terror for mind control. Controlling the autonomy of women, liberal ideas and peace activists is a critical part of their agenda. It should come as no surprise that India-Pakistan foreign secretary peace talks are to be held next week. Fundamentalist are scared of peace, because it decreases their power and role. State responses should not be the only counter to non-state terrorist groups, because binaries exclude other voices.

Rakshanda Jalil, Author, Delhi

This mindlessness has to stop. We have to pluck ourselves off the downward spiral that leads to violence and more violence.

Pamela Philipose, Senior Journalist and Director of Women’s Feature Service (WFS), Delhi
Every time the residents of Mumbai emerge from the trauma of multiple attacks, they are laid low yet again in a pattern that has now become horribly familiar. The attempt now, as always, is to terrorize and demoralize people, pit community against community, create a general climate of fear and undermine the well-being of millions of women and men who want nothing but to carry on with their lives in their chosen city. Such moments demand the coming together of all those committed to human security. They need to speak out against such heinous attacks and condemn terrorism of all kinds, whether by individuals, criminal groups, political outfits or state actors. The region needs to hear their voices as they continue in their efforts to build peace – not in the abstract but as a force that can transform ordinary lives and defeat projects based on spreading fear and hatred.

Shobhaa De, Author of the Column “Politically Incorrect” in The Times of India, Bestselling Novelist and Journalist, Mumbai
I am convinced there is something seriously wrong with us, the people of Mumbai. We are the ‘most attacked’ city on earth… and we accept this dubious ‘honor’ passively, like it is a part of our collective destiny to be frequently bombed. This is not stoicism, it is not resignation, and it most certainly isn’t resilience. So what is it? We think we are being heroic when we react like this when, in fact, we are being foolish. We do nothing about this sorry state of affairs and carry on like blasts are ‘normal’. And they are going to keep bombing us. You know why? Because they can. We refuse to hold anybody responsible. We refuse to make anybody answerable. We refuse to protest. What do we do instead? We show off! We get back to business as usual within hours of an attack and boast about it to the world. As if it’s something to be deliriously proud of. The facts are slightly different. Mumbai is attacked over and over again for the simple reason that it is POSSIBLE!

Mossarat Qadeem, SAVE Pakistan
Mossarat Qadeem, SAVE Pakistan
We in Pakistan share our solidarity and sympathy with those who lost loved ones yesterday. Pakistan is affected by terrorism daily, and we do not want anyone to suffer the way we suffer. Women are the most affected by conflict and violence, and it is time for the women of India and Pakistan to come together and make a pledge to address violent extremism. Women must start working on their home ground through advocacy, education and creation of awareness for peaceful resolutions. We must build trust between our countries. The international community should come forward and pressure the governments of South Asia to deal with these incidents with maturity. India and Pakistan must join hands and understand the roots of the problem to try to resolve it together, rather than blaming one another.

Maureen Fox, SAVE Northern Ireland
Maureen Fox, SAVE Northern Ireland
Fellow Survivors, I am disgusted and appalled by the blasts in Mumbai on Wednesday 13 July 2011, happening in a week that already marks the fifth anniversary of the Mumbai Train Blasts. I send my love and thoughts to ALL who have been affected by this tragedy; the mothers who have lost their sons or husbands, the daughters who have lost their father or brother or sister. You are not alone! I am sad - I am sad because I am neither shocked or surprised. Is this what we have become? Is this our 'normal' existence? This language of bombs, hurt and death is a 'disease' in our world. Who is next? Is it you? or your family? What choices can we make to change this violence, this mindset, this way of life?
This, my sisters is OUR world, when our child is sick we want to cure them, when our family is hungry we want to feed them, when our friends are in need we want to help them, and we can! Let's help our world to rid itself of this global disease. Use our voices and lead by example. When we educate our children, we educate our family, when we educate our family, we educate a community. Educate a community and you can educate a nation. Educate a nation? Well, that's where we go global! Together we WILL be heard.

Anne Carr, Dialogue Practioner, SAVE Northern Ireland
My heart goes out to the wonderful people of Mumbai in the aftermath of another senseless, brutal attack on their people. I was so privileged to spend a very special week with women and children who had been bereaved and injured in the previous attacks on Mumbai, helping them to share their stories and learn with, care with, understand with one another whatever their background, whatever their faith, women so brave and so violated through violence. I stand close to you all today and to those families again having to come to terms with this latest vicious attack on humanity. Women of the world will continue to work together tirelessly and with absolute resolve to build a global community with a special place for everyone, where there is ease with difference and where our children can grow up free from the disastrous realities of violence in all its forms.

Shaimaa Abdel Fattah, SAVE Egypt
Shaimaa Abdel Fattah, SAVE Egypt
Such attacks are only the result of ignorance and ruthlessness. There is no justification whatsoever for murdering innocent citizens. None of the religious sects support violence per se. It's our role now, to fight terrorism in all its forms and condemn those guilty of it. I take this chance to extend my condolences to the crisis-stricken families and promise to be a part of making this world a better place for us to live in.

Shahira Amin, Journalist, Egypt

I was deeply shocked to hear about the blasts in Mumbai. We have seen the power of peaceful protests, so no one can condone this kind of violence. I am sure that it won’t realize the goals of whatever these terrorists were trying to achieve. Violence only breeds more violence. It’s really regrettable that some people are still resorting to violence, for the killing of innocent civilians will never succeed in achieving any goals. I feel very strongly about this because we have seen the power of peaceful protests.

Dina Sadek, Journalist, Egypt
Those people [who carried out the attacks] are programmed to believe that what they are doing is the right thing, and that is the real problem here. They justify their terrorism attacks as “for the sake of God”, but God himself said in the Quran “God never changes the condition of a people until they change within themselves”. Nothing will change unless those people understand religion the way it is supposed to be, rather than their messy interpretation of it.

Hibaaq Osman, SAVE Board Member, Egypt

There is absolutely no justification for killing innocent people. Everyone should make a strong statement against such acts. Acts of terrorism do not only occur in India or Afghanistan, they could happen anywhere. No one is safe. This was not an act of justice; it was an act of murder. We need to call it what it is.

Robi Damelin, SAVE Israel
How many more people must die, how many more bombs must explode, how many more bereaved families need to be created before we all recognize that the nonviolent way is the only way to achieve a goal? It is time for women from every corner of the world to say enough. We all must say enough.

1 comment:

  1. As a female Iranian filmmaker and author working in Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan based on my observation and experience, in order to end international violence of any kind, two things need to happen:
    + Education for the masses, so that women and men can make decisions about what direction they would like their lives to go. Who their leaders should be. Which decisions they want their governments to execute. In general who to believe and trust.
    Second: Women have to be empowered. Where ever women actively take part in social, political and overall decision-making, the situation changes for the better for everyone- children, women and men.


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