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AGAINST THE TIDE
  Sue Pastor Terry Jones  
 

DR RAMESH KHATRY

"Nepalis laid down lives saving UN staff," a national daily’s headline rightly noted on April 2. Four Nepali guards—Chabbi Lal Purja Pun, Narayan Bahadur Thapa Magar, Min Bahadur Thapa, and Dil Prasad Gurung—lost their lives while trying to protect the UN office against rioters in Mazar-e-Sharif on April 1. President Obama praised the victims, "We commend their bravery and commitment to supporting the UN’s vital work in Afghanistan." He did not spare the rioters, "I condemn in the strongest possible terms the attack on the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan today." The US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton joined the US president in both the condemnation and the condolences.

While talking to our premier, Mr Jhalanath Khanal, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon extended his sincere sympathy to the families of those four Nepali guards who lost their lives. Khanal quickly added that Nepal’s support for the UN would continue just the same. However, Obama, Clinton, Khanal, and Ban Ki-moon did not mention the man who incited the rioters—Pastor Terry Jones of Florida.

On March 20, this pastor was preaching to his congregation while his colleague Wayne Sapp burnt a copy of the Koran. Both had planned this beforehand because a Koran does not suddenly appear from nowhere. The news of the bonfire reached Afghanistan about a week later. The rioters in Mazar-e-Sharif killed about 12 people. Some say close to 20 died.

Pastor Terry Jones had threatened of burning the Koran on September 11 last year, the anniversary of New York’s twin-tower destruction by terrorist-commandeered airplanes. Then, President Barack Obama had personally intervened by warning that Jones’ action would put American lives at risk. Hilary Clinton also had rebuked the pastor. On March 20, Jones went ahead anyway; and has become the cause of at least a dozen deaths, among them of four Nepalis.

Indeed, the 9/11 attack killed thousands and affected just as many. Most of the terrorists involved belonged to the Muslim fold. However, many adherents of Islam immediately disassociated themselves from those fanatics. Most Muslims live humbly, work at honest jobs, and have joys and sorrows like any other citizen around the world. Just because some have taken to terrorism does not mean Pastor Terry and his associates should target Muslims as the enemy. All religions have some fanatics, Jones included.

Pastor Terry Jones’ burning a copy of the Koran does not bring back to life the victims of 9/11. Their relatives have just faced the inevitable, probably forgiven the terrorists, and tried to live a normal life. Many would shudder to think that far away in Afghanistan under Pastor Jones, 9/11 has again become the cause of more innocent deaths.

What if the four who died were Americans and not Nepalis? How would Obama, Clinton, and Ban Ki-moon have responded? Would they have just shed crocodile tears, or should they do more? Since the rioters attacked the UN office at Terry Jones’ incitement, Ban, Obama, and Clinton should sue Pastor Jones and his church in Florida for the deaths of those four Nepali and three other UN workers. Such an action by the trio will bring many positive results.
Most Muslims live humbly, work at honest jobs, and have joys and sorrows like any other citizen around the world. Just because some have taken to terrorism does not mean Pastor Terry and his associates should target Muslims as the enemy. All religions have some fanatics, Jones included.

Firstly, suing Pastor Terry Jones will strike at the root cause for the riot in Mazar-e-Sharif and the resulting deaths. The Afghan protestors did not go on the rampage without a cause- Jones and his colleague Sapp had burnt their Holy Scriptures, dear to adherents of any religion. The Afghan rioters also should face justice, but the inciter in Florida should not go scot-free either.

Though Obama hopes for a second term in office and Christian votes matter, he should show that he truly cares for justice by making Jones and associates face the courts. Clinton has indicated that she may not join the next administration, but still she can leave office having done a good turn to the families of the innocent Nepali guards and UN workers. Ban Ki-moon will have to take even greater initiative to show that UN does stand for justice. After all, those seven died in front of an UN office.
Secondly, taking the Floridian pastor to court would send the message that Nepali and other lives matter just as much as Obama’s proverbial "American lives". The four Nepali guards died while protecting three other UN staff. They could not save them¸ but tried nonetheless. Suing Jones will prove to all that the UN regards all lives as valuable.

Thirdly, making Terry face justice will deter other religious fanatics from trying the same tactics. People have done strange things in the name of religion. Some years ago, one person leaked poisonous gas in a Japanese railway station. Another prompted a mass suicide in USA. Closer to home, we have the story of the train massacre in Gujarat. Allowing Terry and his associates to continue life as usual can mean more of his idiosyncrasies in the future, and probably more deaths.

Everyone expects that the UN will generously compensate the families of four Nepali guards who gave their lives so valiantly in the service of their masters. However, these families will get real justice when Terry Jones and his church also cough up some "penance" money for two dead heroes from Myagdi, one from Rupendehi, another from Pokhara, and three other UN workers. We have not forgotten how the US attorney and former Peace Corps Volunteer Matthew K Handley sued the employer of the 9 out of 12 Nepalis killed by terrorists in Iraq and succeeded in getting monthly compensation for their families. He could have helped the families of other three victims too had they filed a case as the America law required. Obama, Clinton, and Ban Ki-moon can ask for Matthew K Handley’s help again, or hire a lawyer like him to initiate the process. Even better, Handley himself could get the ball rolling.

The UN under the guise of UNMIN had a mediocre history in Nepal. Most think UNMIN ruined its testimony by acting too soft on the Maoists. By taking on Pastor Terry Jones and urging Obama and Clinton to do the same, the UN can prove to the Nepali population that it has some grit after all.
 
Published on 2011-04-17 01:10:26
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LATEST COMMENTS
all problems in the world are due to the two proselytizing religions, christanity and islam...look at the havoc christianity created in nepal over the last 15 years...with concepts like 20/40 window, these soul harvesters are only interested in head counts..altruism not to serve but to convert...abrahamic religions are & will remain a great disservice to mankind... [more]
  - Manish
Although Reverend Terry Jones needs to be condemned by everyone for his action in burning a Quran and hurting the sentiments of Muslims, does anyone believe his action was tantamount to taking innocent human (including Nepalese) lives?

The bloody massacre in Afghanistan was committed by a crowd of ordinary Muslims provoked by religious mullahs in the relatively moderate (by Afghanistan’s standard) town of Majar-e- Sharif.

The real question here is :How could the crow [more]
  - Dev Batsya
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