The Community.com presents
The Peacemakers Speak
The Terrorist Crisis in the U.S.:
This Speech is from:
Wednesday, September 26, 2001
I lived a good portion of a quarter of a century in New York. There I met thousands of people of different nationalities and beliefs. There is no other country in the world with this extraordinary ethnic, cultural and religious diversity.
It was with horror that I learned the news of the tragedy that befell my American friends. Our leaders, and our humble people, received the news of the tragedy with profound sadness. Hundreds of simple family people have visited the US Mission in Dili to pay their respects.
No cause, however noble, no grievance or claim however valid, will ever be great enough to justify the use of terror against innocent civilians. Yet fanatics have existed through centuries and caused incalculable suffering to humankind. Let us not ever forget the greatest calamity of all, the Holocaust unleashed by Adolf Hitler, against Jews and Gypsies.
In the sixties we witnessed a wave of terror in Europe by extreme left fanatics such as Action Directe in France, the Red Brigade in Italy, the Bader Meinhof in Gemany, Carlos "the Jackal", the Japanese Red Army and many others.
The European experience in successfully eliminating the terrorist organizations in Europe, and the obliteration of the Japanese Red Army terror network, provides us with a glimpse of hope that democracies can prevail over terrorism.
But in recent years we have witnessed the rising of a new form of terrorism that is mostly located in the Islamic world notably in the Middle East and parts of Asia.
Terrorist networks branch out of Afghanistan and the Middle East. Some enjoy the support of certain governments. Most have caused widespread suffering among their own people.
We all know Islam does not advocate violence. All religions today call for tolerance, justice, and compassion.
We must resist the temptation to blame entire nations, religions, or peoples for the actions of a small number of political extremists. And if it develops that certain governments have supported the terrorist conspiracy, we should remember that these regimes hold power in their countries by terror and violence - they are not supported by the majority of their citizens or neighbors.
The attacks against New York and the Pentagon also killed many Muslims and Arab-Americans, innocent victims like the rest of the casualties. The tragedy that befell our brothers and sisters in America is already impacting on the lives of many Arabs and Muslims all over the world.
Arab and Muslim Americans are now being labeled "enemies" and are harassed. They are already feeling hostility growing around them from their non-Arab and Non-Muslim neighbors.
The Palestinian dream of a homeland has been done irreparable damage by this act. Today in the Palestinian world, there are countless numbers of citizens who desperately desire peace and stability in their communities, who want a solution where they can raise their children in a decent life, and who wish Americans no harm. Those who led a groups of Palestinians to the street to dance and celebrate at the death of thousands of innocent people in America, under the watch of international television cameras, have harmed these people more than any of them could have imagined.
Europeans of Mediterranean complexion will also be suspected and face hostility, police search, interrogation and humiliation. I know that from now on when I check in at an American or European airport, or walk into an airport or hotel lounge, many eyes will turn to me. I know I will be stopped, searched, questioned. But I will understand.
We should remember that Islamic terrorist groups in Algeria have murdered at least 100,000 innocent Algerian women and children in the last 10 years alone. These victims were not Americans or Christians. They were devout poor Muslims.
Pursuing an effective counter-terrorism campaign, the Algerian authorities have managed to cause severe disruption in the terrorist network.
The target and the victims of the terrorist groups in Afghanistan are fellow Afghans, and the same can be said of Sudan.
As we gather today, leaders and peoples of many different convictions, we are saying no to all forms of violence, intolerance and terrorism. In bringing the perpetrators of this heinous crime to justice, we hope that we can, once more, bring down a network of terror, and that there will be no more innocent victims. The cycle of violence must end.
To my American brothers and sisters, speaking as someone who has lived in and known your country for many years, I join with my East Timorese compatriots in mourning your loved ones, and appeal to you not to allow your anger to betray your compassion. Do not despair. Keep the faith, and America will be ever greater.
(Speech delivered at the Dili Cathedral in East Timor on 18th September 2001 during an ecumenical service for the victims of terrorist attack against NY and the Pentagon. The service was co-celebrated by Catholic bishop and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Rev. Carlos F. X. Belo, and representatives from the Muslim and Protestant communities).
José Ramos-Horta Updated Sep 22
* Dr Jose Ramos-Horta is an internationally-renowned spokesperson for the East Timorese cause. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996 for “sustained efforts to hinder the oppression of small people”.
* Dr Ramos-Horta has been a dynamic and determined advocate for a free and independent East Timor. From 1976 until 1989, he was the permanent representative of the Frente Revolucionaria de Timor Leste Independente (FRETILIN) at the United Nations. He currently holds the position of Senior Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation in the United Nations appointed, all East Timorese, second transitional cabinet of East Timor.
BD: The Current World Crisis - A collection of statements on the recent terrorist attacks in the US and the subsequent 'war on terrorism'