Monday, October 8, 2001

Remember 9-11-01

Afghan native Ariya Ahrary, with mother Raofa, at left,
expressed fear for relatives back home and for U.S. forces.
The photo shows Raofa's husband, Fazil Ahmad Ahrary.

Hawaii’s natives of
Afghanistan fear
for family members

Some also caution that U.S. forces
face a foe fueled by suicidal fury

By Rosemarie Bernardo

Afghan native Ariya Ahrary worried about her relatives once she learned about the U.S. military attack in Central Asia yesterday.

"We're scared to death and worried about our country," said Ahrary, who has cousins and a step-grandmother in Afghanistan.

Like Ahrary, other members of Hawaii's small Islamic community are concerned about family members' welfare in Afghanistan and other lives at risk in the crossfire between terrorists and U.S. allied forces.

Those who cannot afford to escape from Afghanistan are stuck, said Ahrary, who was 5 years old when she fled her native country.

If innocent people get killed, it is going to get worse, she said.

Though Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf supports the attacks on Afghan military bases, Ahrary said the Bush administration should be cautious of the assistance they receive from Pakistan.

"The United States is being extremely naive in trusting Pakistan over the Northern Alliance," she said, stating the Pakistani government has ties with the Taliban.

Ahrary fears not only for her relatives, but also for the U.S. military in Afghanistan.

"They (U.S. military) haven't been in war with people who don't care if they die or not," Ahrary said.

Within the last 20 years, Afghans have undergone the turmoil of the Soviet war and the Taliban rule.

"Why does this have to happen to Afghanistan all the time?" she asked. "Why can't they see peace for once?"

Ahrary said she does not think the United States should go into Afghanistan alone. The assistance of other countries will be needed to locate Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaida network and to defeat terrorism, Ahrary said.

Shekaiba Saidy, a psychology student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, also worries about her relatives in Afghanistan.

"I'm hoping they can settle this as quick as possible," said Saidy, who has an aunt and cousins in her home country.

Despite the concern for family members, Saidy said, "You can't live in fear all the time."

"You've just got to hope and pray for the best. That's all we can do."

Saleem Ahmed, who moved to Pakistan from India when he was 11 years old, said he was pained by bin Laden's statement televised yesterday.

"He's trying to win over the emotions of the Muslim masses by talking about the land of Mohammed," he said.

"I feel the world recognized the Palestinians have been badly treated," Ahmed said.

When bin Laden uses that as a selling point of his brand of fundamentalism, naturally he might win support, he added.

"All these terrorists should realize if they want a justifiable cause, the only way to bring about change is democracy," Ahmed said.

"No mercy should be shown to them," Ahmed said in reference to bin Laden and the Taliban regime.

Prayers for the people of Afghanistan took place yesterday at the Muslim Association of Hawaii.

Association President Hakim Ouansafi said: "It's difficult to think. ... We hope the very best comes out of this, that the perpetrators of terrorism are brought to justice."

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