Students criticize U.S. policy

Students from local universities and peace activists gathered at GW Saturday to discuss alternatives to the war in Afghanistan.

The D.C. Students Against the War regional conference drew about 70 students to Monroe Hall to hear speakers against the war effort.

William Blum, author of Killing Hope and Rogue State, disagreed with the common perception that the Sept. 11 attacks were rooted in the terrorists’ hatred for democracy. He blamed the attacks on faults in U.S. foreign policy.

Blum said there were several occasions when the U.S. angered many countries by intervening in foreign policy. He cited past support of the Freedom Fighters in Afghanistan, intervention in the Iran-Iraq War and the bombing in Serbia.

“Terrorism will never end unless we stop the revenge, bombing and stop supporting gross violators of human rights,” he said.

Vice President of the Muslim Student Association Sanam Nowrouzzadeh said Islam is founded on the ideals of peace and submission, and war is a last resort subject to rigorous conditions.

She said the United States needs to understand how other countries may feel its foreign policy is biased against them.

“A lack of education and opportunity are the ingredients for ignorance and hate,” Nowrouzzadeh said.

Nowrouzzadeh said bombing during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which begins this week, might convince people the campaign is a war targeting Islam.

“What makes the victims in Afghanistan different than the victims at the Pentagon or the World Trade Center?” she said.

Tim Edger, a representative from the American Civil Liberties Union and First Amendment Foundation, decried war efforts that infringe on citizen privacy. He said the ACLU takes no position on the military campaigns in Afghanistan but is a defender of the Constitution and civil liberties.

“It is important we remain vigilant to the erosion of civil liberties,” he said.

Edger cited the U.S.A. Patriot Act, signed into law Oct. 26, which gives the government more authority to detain, arrest and deport non-citizens. He said more than 1,000 people have already been taken into custody and very little information has been released on the detainees.

“What (is the government) afraid of? What are they hiding if they’re doing nothing wrong?” he asked.

Students from the University of Maryland and American and George Mason universities and other local schools attended the panel discussion, sponsored by the D.C. Student Peace Action Network. The group was formed to oppose military response in retaliation of the Sept. 11 attacks.

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