Don’t let terrorists manipulate us into backing downThere are a couple of different things I could talk about right now. Euro 2004 would be one thing. Writing about Cho Seong-min’s comeback effort in baseball could be a interesting way to burn a few lines. But no. Not now. Not when the worst thing that could happen to a man has happened, and the nation is in shock, mourning and agonizing over what went wrong.
Kim Sun-il’s family is in tears and they are pointing a finger at the government for the death of their beloved 33-year-old son. To the parents: Nobody can blame you. The world could do little more than offer you its deepest condolences and hope that maybe, one day, your pain might ease. We just want you to know that our thoughts and prayers are with you.
While talking the other day to Lee Haeng-rae, imam at the Seoul Central Mosque, I saw the eyes of a man who was also suffering. Putting his hands on my two shoulders, he said, “Son, try to understand. It’s very hard for us too, you know?”
My eyes locked with his, and I knew the man meant every word he had uttered. Tears were welling in his eyes, and I will never forget the troubled look on his face. Nor will I forget how Mr. Kim’s father said in a trembling voice, “I just want my son back. I want him back.”
Some among the nation’s Muslims are now living in fear because angry individuals have erroneously drawn a link, on their own, between Kim Sun-il’s death and the Islamic faith. Candlelight rallies are under way and more are scheduled, with participants calling on the government to reverse its decision to dispatch additional troops to Iraq. It’s what those terrorists want. We’re playing right into their hands.
The terrorists are small in number but they make up for that by being masters at manipulation. They might be practicing the Islamic faith, but they are not, as Imam Lee put it, “true followers”. They’re nothing more than cold-blooded terrorists hiding behind the cloak of something which they truly have no part in.
TV coverage of the beheadings of innocent human beings will continue. But you will never see a Muslim beheaded by these terrorists, because they carefully try to project their cause as a struggle fought along religious lines or civilizations, when in fact it is not. Muslims are killed and will be killed, but it will only be behind closed doors.
Rebuilding Iraq into a democracy in a region with few countries that can claim to be one is going to benefit us all. Terrorists don’t have a home; they merely move from place to place, grooming hatred, and right now they’re flocking to Iraq.
If Iraq can become a prosperous democracy, it will become the nucleus of a force that is stronger than anything ever thrown against Islamic militants. And that’s exactly why we have to send our troops there ― to take them on and wipe out every last one of those germs so they won’t spread their hatred.
It’s wishful but naive to think that by keeping our troops home we can remain free of the troubles that have come with the global war on terror. That’s just not the case. It’s our responsibility to shoulder the burden of promoting a free democracy where everyone is equal. It’s not an easy choice, but it’s the right one.
by Brian Lee
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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