Tag Archives: Afghanistan

Not just a story

Our world is under a constant change. That is a given. Those who try to stop change or stand in the way of progress are slowly being rooted out.
That is certainly being seen across the Middle East as they continue to fight for their freedom of speech, equalities and the ability to finally be out from under the unspeakable acts of cowardly dictators that have ruled over them for decades.

As each day passes, bravery becomes more evident because to share the turmoil going on in places such as Egypt, Syria, Libya, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, it literally means risking arrest or even one’s life. Making a phone call, sending a picture, a tweet, updating a blog or even carrying on a conversation on the street or anywhere in public can cost a person their life on the spot or have them detained, tortured, or kidnapped leaving their family to wonder whatever became of them. This is not something that is exaggerated or made up. This is life for the people of these countries and has been for decades.

Most reporters sent in are there under government watch and only go places with government permission, in government convoys and to places the governments wants them to see. Example of this is in Tripoli’s famous Rixos Hotel where a large group of reporters have stayed and covered Libya’s conflict for an ongoing amount of time. This is where Iman Al Obaidi ran in to share her story of what happened while she was held by Gaddafi’s soldiers. Her story became internationally known once it was shared by worldwide news organizations and across social media websites. This became possible only because she risked her life to go into that hotel in the first place.

Other reporters have been thrown out of Libya and other countries for sharing too much of the truth as well as having been detained, beaten, raped or are still missing or or have been killed.

To name just a few, Chris Hondros, Tim Hetherington, Mohammed Al-Nabbous, Anton Hammerl were killed just recently. These are just a few and are just naming ones killed in Libya.

Why do “outsiders” risk their lives to share these “stories”?

I’ll answer this question very directly so as to be very clear.

These aren’t just stories, this is life. Just because I am an American writing about people that are living all the way around the world, doesn’t make this any less relevant than if I were writing about something locally, not to me.

You see, these people in many ways are just like me. They have hopes, dreams, families, loved ones, and friends.

Rebel fighters at the Wazin Border Crossing(Tunisia and Nafusa Mountains) May11th
Photo Courtesy of: @ShababLibya

A mother losing her child or a child losing their parents somewhere else in the world is just as upsetting as if that happened here, or to me. A friend watching their friend die is no less painful because it is further away or because it is in a time of war. Many of those fighting in these current revolutions are students, lawyers, doctors or young kids. Most are not soldiers and had never held a weapon before in their life. They are protecting their homes, businesses, families and their lives. They didn’t want to fight. They don’t want to fight. They want to be free which is the opposite of fighting.

As an American, I want our government to be able to help, of course.

I also know that many times, U.S. involvement comes with a cost and although at first glance and in a time of crisis, it seems great and the right thing to do when making arrangements but the long term effects, due to diplomatic arrangements made to reach that original agreement, often far outweigh the long term benefit. Doesn’t sound right, does it?

Let me explain. Iraq and Afghanistan.

The need for help is there and the desire to help is there but the actual response and outcome is often so jumbled up in politics, the RSVP would have been better to have been lost in the mail.

Some situations are so clear, up front, one would think there wouldn’t be any issues. One would think.

In Libya, Gaddafi was making it abundantly clear that he had no problem with taking as many lives each day as he could without any given reason. He also made it clear he wasn’t listening to reason. Once the UN came to an agreement and NATO started its response against Gaddafi’s crimes against his own people, it wasn’t as quick of a process as it would have once been thought.

At this point, it seems communication on the ground (what little there is) doesn’t get heard by the right people, quickly enough. I personally think if it were, Gaddafi would have been cut off much quicker.

Syria has tried to hide what is going on in their country but they haven’t been able to do this, not completely. The government says one thing and does another. It seems they want to act like Iran, dress like Iran but not be treated like Iran. When do threats from the U.S. end? Syria’s government has clearly chosen its path.

In Yemen today, President Saleh refused to sign the exit deal to hopefully bring an end to the political crises. Saleh has ruled for 32 years.
For months now, Yemen has been filled with protests for him to step down. Hundreds have been killed and he has refused to sign a deal at least twice before.

Saleh is demanding the opposition be present at the signing. The opposition refuses saying it will send the wrong message to the revolution leaders in Sanaa, making Saleh look victorious.

The opposition signed their part of the agreement on Saturday, May 21st with the understanding Saleh would sign his on Sunday.
About Saudi Arabia…this is a country with a great deal of oppression toward women.

I am a woman. I drive. Recently Manal Al Sharif was arrested for doing exactly the same thing in the eastern town of Khobar, Saudi Arabia which defies a long standing ban on women’s driving. Yeh, that’s right.

Manal Al Sharif 32 year old Saudi Arabian woman detained for driving in Saudi Arabia

It’s said that about two-thirds of a woman’s salary goes toward their transportation. They can’t walk on the street or drive so they must pay a taxi or private driver. There’s no public transportation.

On June 17th, there’s a campaign #Women2Drive which is growing in numbers on their Facebook page. The idea is for those women, with foreign licenses, to go out in the Kingdom of Saudi and drive that day. Some are even offering to teach others how to drive. Manal Al Sharif remains detained at this moment but in an interview to Gulf news she said, “Every lady has something to do in the city, she’ll just drive, do her business and come back. So it’s as simple as that. People can’t call it a demonstration, we’re not going against the law, we’re not going against anyone, we’re not even demonstrating.”

I was going to divide this article into two parts but I think it’s important to keep it as one.

You see, as a nation, we have an enormous amount of freedoms. I am writing this article which I will shortly post because I have the freedom to do so. I have the ability to share the information which I freely read about on the Internet or via links that were sent to me. Information is golden.

Education is priceless. The ability to have those available to us should never be taken for granted.

In many parts of our world, these freedoms or abilities do not exist. Our freedoms were fought for by very brave people before us and to take anything at all for granted, to me, just seems wrong. It also seems wrong to take lightly why others would want these same freedoms as well as the loss of lives they are experiencing while fighting for their freedom.

Many have chosen to come here, to the U.S., seeking a better life for themselves and their children. Around the world, America has been known as the “Land of the Free”, but is it? Do we truly know where these people are coming from, why they are seeking freedom and can they still find it here? In coming here, they have often made many sacrifices leaving behind the only homes they have ever known and family members to still live under dictators and the very life they are running from.

It’s been a while since I have written. I’ve been following much of what has been going on around the world, devastating natural disasters, revolutions and our own nation and its many ups and downs.

I hadn’t planned to write quite yet until I read a comment about the woman in Saudi, Manal, who had been arrested for, driving. The comment was basically along the lines of the fact the reader would never live in a place that wouldn’t allow a woman to drive!

My question: What if you were born there?

Homegrown Terrorism

It has become clear what goes on in one part of the world will be seen all over the world, often times in a matter of moments. Good news travels fast but it seems bad news travels even faster and is often repeated the most.

In July, the Dove World Outreach Center’s preacher, Terry Jones set the date of September 11th to burn the Holy Book of the Islamic religion, the Qur’an. What was his reason? He says Islam is of the devil.

In an interview with Rick Sanchez on CNN, July 29th he said, “We believe Islam is of the Devil. It is causing billions of people to go to hell. It is a deceptive religion. It is a violent religion. That is proven many many times.”

This pastor may feel how he wants to feel, as may anyone. However by setting this date to hold a burning of a Holy Book to the Islam religion, there are many consequences coming out of this from this one person’s choice.

Monday in Afghanistan, a protest was held in the capital. We have tens of thousands of troops fighting there and they aren’t fighting the Afghanistan people. They are helping them by fighting against their enemies, Al Qaeda.

Monday though, many of those people at the protest were getting mixed messages due to this news of what was going on at this church in the U.S. wanting to burn their Holy Book and saying their religion is of the devil? Maybe they should just give up on the American people. Why trust them?

This pastor is talking about burning another religion’s Holy Book while he lives in a country that is based on FREEDOM OF RELIGION. Does he choose what religions are free? Does he choose WHO has those freedoms?

This pastor believes he is a “patriot” but the highest ranking military officials are watching the reactions from overseas and saying it’s not good for America. Is that not enough of an alert? He’s not being a patriot. He is stirring up a conflict both here and abroad. He is doing this by choice and with full knowledge of the consequences arising and with numerous warnings from different government agencies, local officials and many around the world.

In a statement from one of the top American Generals in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, he said, “We’re over here to defend the rights of the American citizens and we’re not debating the first amendment rights that people have, but what I will tell you is that their very actions will jeopardize the safety of the young men and women who are serving in uniform over here and also undermine the very mission that we’re trying to accomplish. I would hope they would understand that there are second and third order effects that would occur that will affect the young men and women who’s out there on point for America serving their nation today because of their actions in the United States.”

These people serving our country and fighting the war on terror, are pointing out not only is this harmful for our troop’s safety and mission but also goes against the safety for America and many around the world.

Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. Commander in Afghanistan released a statement to the Wallstreet Journal saying, “It is precisely the kind of action the Taliban uses and could cause significant problems. Not just here but everywhere in the world we are engaged with the Islamic Community.”

The safety of America and American troops has always been the priority but since the attacks on September 11, 2001, the heightened security has been more focused and more attention has been on Al Qaeda, the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden.

For many people the focus has shifted to the Muslim people and more recently causing a great deal of debates over the building of or even the expansions of existing mosque.

Often times, people fear what they don’t understand or what they are told is bad or evil.

This “pastor”, Terry Jones is causing a greater amount of conflict and danger on this nation, our troops who have been risking their lives and he is doing this all for a selfish reason, because he is trying to make a point.

Although he may fully believe everything he is saying and his estimated 50 church followers may believe him as well, is America’s safety or the safety of our troops, Americans abroad or other nations that have also fought the war on terror ready to face this added terror his actions may provoke, most likely will provoke?

Someone willing to put that great of a risk on other people’s lives for their own cause is as much of a terrorist as those he claims to be fighting against.

It doesn’t matter where he is born, what religion he claims to follow or what color his skin is.

He has been told to stop. He has been told of the dangers. He has been told of the risk he is putting America, its people and its troops in and yet he is refusing to stop.

Terry Jones does not care. He has a higher calling.

Does this sound familiar? Does this sound like the behavior words of a terrorist?