Tuesday, May 24, 2005

"Newsweek story is not America's story" 

Afghanistan's President Karzai and President Bush gave a joint press conference. I don’t usually quote extensively from speeches or opinion pieces, but Karzai's words deserve to be chiseled in meter-high letters on the edifice of the mainstream media:
You cannot imagine, Mr. President, and I cannot tell you that in a few words -- there are so many words, it has to take a much longer time for me to describe to you what Afghanistan was going through three years ago. So it's difficult to say, and I'm sometimes -- rather often -- neither our press, nor your press, nor the press in the rest of the world will pick up the miseries of the Afghans three years ago and what has been achieved since then, until today.
Somebody pass President Karzai the link to "Good news from Afghanistan", and kudos once again to "The Opinion Journal".

On prisoner abuse:
On the question of the prisoner abuse, we are, of course, sad about that. But let me make sure that you all know that that does not reflect on the American people.

Right now in Afghanistan there is an Italian lady that has been kidnapped by an Afghan man -- while there are hundreds of Afghan women demonstrating outside in the streets of Kabul demanding the release of that woman, the Italian lady. So the prisoner abuse thing is not at all a thing that we attribute to anybody else but those individuals. The Afghan people are grateful, very, very much to the American people. They recognize that individual acts do not reflect either on governments or on societies. These things happen everywhere.
On the Koran desecration riots:
Those demonstrations were, in reality, not related to the Newsweek story. They were more against the elections in Afghanistan; they were more against the progress in Afghanistan; they were more against the strategic partnership with the United States.

We know who did it. We know the guys. We know the people behind those demonstrations. And if -- unfortunately, you don't hear -- follow the Afghan press, but if you listen to the Voice of America, the Radio Liberty, and the BBC, the Afghan population condemned that -- those acts of arson in Afghanistan.

Of course, we are as Muslims very much unhappy with Newsweek bringing a matter so serious in the gossip column. It's really something that one shouldn't do, that responsible journalism shouldn't do at all. But Newsweek story is not America's story. That's what -- that's what we understand in Afghanistan. America has over a thousand mosques. I have gone and prayed in mosques here in America; I've prayed in Virginia; I've gone and prayed in Maryland; I've been to a mosque in Washington. And thousands of Afghans have been to mosques here in town, and as a matter of fact, tens of thousands of Muslims are going on a daily basis to mosques in America and praying.

So -- and this is what was also reflected in Afghanistan. People spoke in the mosques -- the clergy, and said, what the hell are you doing? There is -- there is a respect, there is this freedom in America for religion, and there are Muslims, on a daily basis praying in mosques in America. And there are Korans, Holy Korans all over America in homes and mosques. So it was a political act -- a political act against Afghanistan's stability, which we have condemned, which the Afghan people have condemned.
Karzai sees the big picture. Pity many others don't.


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