FARRAKHAN CONDEMNS U.S. WAR
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
NEW YORK — Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan yesterday condemned the U.S.-led bombing of Afghanistan, saying Washington had not proven its case against terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.
Speaking to a gathering of religious leaders, Mr. Farrakhan said the U.S. government hadn't revealed the evidence to the Taliban, sharing it only with allies.
"You show your friend [British Prime Minister Tony Blair] the evidence, but not the people you're about to bomb?" he said.
U.S. and British officials have said that revealing the details of the evidence would compromise allied war aims.
Mr. Farrakhan keynoted a conference organized by the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace, a group organized by Rev. Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church. The conference included a hundred ministers from several religious denominations, and political figures, including former Vice President Dan Quayle, former Indonesian President Abudurrahman Wahid and the former presidents and prime ministers of Guyana, Guatemala, Barbados, Seychelles, Nepal and St. Kitts and Nevis.
Most of them applauded often during Mr. Farrakhan's 100-minute speech and gave him a standing ovation afterward. The theme of the conference was an examination of the roots of global violence and how to deal with it.
Mr. Quayle, who had left the gathering by the time Mr. Farrakhan spoke, had earlier angrily rejected suggestions that U.S. foreign policy in Iraq and the Middle East had provoked terrorist attacks.
"This is the time to be morally clear," Mr. Quayle said. "Nothing justifies terrorism."
Mr. Farrakhan, the leader of the nation's largest Muslim group, said the pursuit of bin Laden and his terrorist group was a campaign against Islam. He said he also condemns the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks against the United States, which killed 5,000 Americans.
"It was so horrific to me that for the first 48 hours I could not speak," he said.
Mr. Farrakhan said, without citing his evidence, that 1.5 million Iraqis had died under sanctions imposed by the United Nations after the 1991 Persian Gulf war "while we are crying over 5,000."
In his remarks, Rev. Moon, who spoke before Mr. Farrakhan's denunciation of U.S. war aims, called on world leaders to repudiate national self-interests and hatreds, and urged religious leaders to cooperate and seek reconciliation. "If religions demonstrate love for each other, cooperate with each other, and serve each other, putting the higher ideal of peace ahead of particular doctrines, rituals and cultural backgrounds, the world will change dramatically."
Mr. Quayle, who served as vice president under President George H.W. Bush, said that fear, unlike anthrax, is contagious. He urged the religious figures to preach messages of tolerance. Mr. Quayle also blamed Hollywood for giving foreigners a distorted picture of the United States.
"Have you ever seen a movie that made the military look good? That looked favorably upon religion? That showed the cohesiveness of the family? No — and why not?" he asked. "If you were a person who had never been to America, you'd see a different country than it actually is."
Mr. Wahid, a Muslim cleric who served as president of Indonesia from Oct. 1999 until July 2001, said he supported the American military attacks, which are unpopular with Indonesians, but warned against "hegemony".
"What the United States is doing is honorable, but it is important to remember the multilateral framework," Mr. Wahid said. In an interview, he said that Washington "needs to listen to other people, and they need to listen to the United States."
The former presidents and prime ministers of several Latin and Caribbean nations said that it was important to look at what they call the root causes of terrorism — poverty, poor education and an absence of hope.
"We all hoped that the end of the Cold War, peace would have had a chance to break out," said Lloyd E. Sandiford, former prime minister of Barbados. "But efforts to increase development, and relieve poverty and other social blights are again delayed."