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How Odd! Nelson Mandela is No Longer a Terrorist!! - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Did you read this most important news item which is that the American congress had made the decision on Thursday June 26/2008, to drop the “terrorist” label off the name of the most important world hero of struggle for freedom and justice, the past president of the Republic of South Africa, Mr. Nelson Mandela? This means, of course, that for almost half a century the National African Congress and its icon, Nelson Mandela, who were fighting apartheid, were classified as terrorists and this classification continued even after the defeat of apartheid and throughout the Presidency of Nelson Mandela and many years afterwards. Even when Nelson Mandela visited the U.S., on October 24, 1994, as a President of South Africa, he was still on one terrorist list and could’ve been arrested and tried as such.

Instead of feeling ashamed, or embarrassed, at least, for participating in the support of the hateful apartheid system through classifying those who resist it as terrorists, some Congress members such as the Representative Donald Bayne who considered “Passage of the bill to remove from the U.S. terrorist watch list Nelson Mandela and others who worked tirelessly to end the oppressive, inhumane system of apartheid in South Africa is a great victory for justice”. He added that “I am gratified that we were able to show our respect and high esteem for a man who is loved and admired around the world” said Payne.

But the real question is why did the American congress take the decision of putting the name of a freedom fighter who was “loved and admired around the world”, as they say, on the terrorist watch list in the first place? If congressmen acknowledge that Nelson Mandela was fighting against ” an oppressive and inhumane system” why did they classify the ANC that was fighting against this system and its President as terrorists?

How much this decision of congress delayed the triumph of the people of South Africa and prolonged the imprisonment of the most renowned prisoner Nelson Mandela in the cell 46664 in Robin Island in South Africa? Some say that the American Congress removed the name from the terrorist watch list only in anticipation of the 90th birthday of Mandela in July 18, 2008. How many freedom fighters are granted the time to live to the age of 90 in order to see their names removed from the wrong and ugly list and put on the right and honorable list? The classification of ANC and Nelson Mandela as terrorists who were deemed illegal in apartheid South Africa throws a real and genuine doubt on the decision taken by the American Congress and the moral values and objectives of such decisions, especially as this decision was made years before 9/11, and therefore, has no pretext of preserving the security of the U.S. We have to recall here that most world fighters for freedom and against occupation and oppression from Ernest che Guevara, Salvador Allende and Patrice Lumumba to other fighters for freedom in India, Algeria, Palestine, Lebanon to South Africa, were on the American terrorist watch list.

The second question is how many fighters for freedom, justice and democracy are today on the American list of terrorism? How many resistance movements which are fighting occupation and humiliation are today on the American list of terrorist movements?

After 9/11 the U.S. started to issue a classification of countries and people, and then move on to act on its own decisions by invading countries, occupying others, and financially and militarily supporting occupation and settlements and allowing collective punishment and genocide against indigenous and armless people.

As a point of principle no country in the world has the moral authority to classify people, movements or countries and impose on the international will a way of dealing with people, movements and countries. Such judgments should be confined to an international judicial body that is internationally recognized as an unquestionable moral authority.

For the last few years most western policies followed in the foot of the American congress especially after 9/11 by oppressing and pressuring freedom fighters and independence movements under the pretext of fighting terrorism. Hence we can understand the measures and decisions taken against the Arab People in Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan and Somalia. Putting and keeping the name of Nelson Mandela on the terrorist watch list is a scandal, and is indicative of the moral guidelines of the American Congress.

All what we can do now is to repeat with the South African poet Le BoMashile “you and I, we are the keepers of the dream”. I hope that every reader of this column will feel the responsibility of keeping the dream alive till justice and freedom triumph all over the world.

Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban

Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban

Prof. Bouthaina Shaaban is political and media advisor to the Syrian presidency, and the former minister of Expatriates. She is also a writer, and has been a professor at Damascus University since 1985. She received her PhD in English Literature from Warwick University, London. She was the spokesperson for Syria. She was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.

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