Desi in DC

August 15, 2008

In Memory of Nicole Dial

As I was wading my way though the numerous junk and forwarded mails in my gmail account today, I came across an email from an SFCG listserve; the title of the email ‘in memory of Nicole Dial”. The name sounded familiar, i just couldn’t associate the word in memory of with the girl I had known while interning for Search for Common Ground. Nicole shared a room with my direct supervisors, she was young, always laughing, always cracking jokes. I didn’t know her too well, just the encounters I had whenever I came into her office looking for my supervisors. She was one of the lucky few who had been able to start a career in a field that the rest of us were struggling to get into.

I open my email, dreading what I may find there. Nicole was killed in Afghanistan on August 13th. She was killed by the Taliban who fired at a vehicle carrying Nicole and three other female aid workers. They said the workers were spies.

Nicole is not a spy. She was never a spy. Having worked with aid workers in different parts of Indonesia, Philippines, Pakistan and the US, I can easily say that most of them are in this field b/c they genuinely believe they want to help people. They are tired of the corporate world, and strongly believe that life will be much more fulfilling if they are able to help improve someone else’s life. They are if nothing else optimists and idealists that are hoping for a better world. These workers have been amongst the nicest people that I have met in the West. They are extremely well informed about what is happening in the world, and the mess created by the powers that be within their own countries. Many of them have entered this field in an attempt to right the wrongs committed by their own governments. They aim to help rather then control.

Killing innocent human beings can never be justified. Killing women can never be justified. Killing someone who has come to your house to help you out can also never be justified. Killing Nicole and the numerous other aid workers can never be justified.

The Taliban, in the name of my faith, are practicing a sort of Islam that resembles Islam less and looks more similar to the historical rural Afghan culture that has nothing to do with religion. They have killed aid workers because they were spies. The taliban have killed their own people for associating with the aid workers. They have taken a step further and attacked local health workers in both Pakistan and Afghanistan for daring to give polio drops to their children. They have crippled many young children by encouraging their parents to say no to vaccinations. All in the name of Islam. All with the help of threats and use of force and coercion.

What happened to the teachings of “you shall not convert by the power of your sword”? What happened to God is the most forgiving and the most merciful? That God would forgive us for our sins against him, but not for our sins against other beings unless we gained their forgiveness first.

I am sorry Nicole. As a Muslim, I too am responsible for speaking against the wrongs that I see being practiced. I too should have spoken up before….



  1. […] see Sana’s post on her blog about Nicole. This is not the Islam that we believe in or […]

    Pingback by Desi Back to desh » In memory of Nicole Dial — August 15, 2008 @ 5:01 am | Reply

  2. bad news.. i wonder what to do with these people who kill in the name of God.. i hope they understand and at least stop associating themselves with God.. they really have to be punished in the same manner – those who kill in the name of God need to be killed at the earliest.

    Comment by Kamran — August 15, 2008 @ 5:17 am | Reply

  3. Kamran: killing them would makes us similar to them in the first place. Secondly it would create further animosity within their families, and convert more people to that train of thought. We have to have some way of bringing these people to justice, reducing their numbers, and at the same time, figure out ways in which we can prevent our youth, and the youth of Afghanistan from being converted to the thinking that the Islam that is being practiced by the “taliban” is the “true religion”. That is our biggest challenge.

    one of the first things that I remember from Islamiat class was a lesson in moderation. How we should chose the middle path and do things in moderation.. We need to be reasserting that message constantly.

    Comment by dcdesi — August 15, 2008 @ 12:25 pm | Reply

  4. It feels so sad to know about Nicole and several others like her 😦 May Allah(SWT) guide us all to follow His religion the way His messengers taught us to. None of them killed innocent people brutally in the name of Islam and this is certainly not what our religion teaches.

    Comment by Fariha Akhtar — August 15, 2008 @ 6:22 pm | Reply

  5. I’m Nicole’s brother, Sean. I want you to know, I don’t think you have to account for them. I appreasiate your appology but I’ll take your condolances, instead. Those men are guilty of there own crimes. The groups that they claim to represent don’t share any of their burden. I wouldn’t blame Mother Teresa for the actions of David Koresh. And I wont let Muslims take the blame for these men. Anyone who wants to blame Islam should also blame the Russians, the Americans, the Saudi’s, etc. While we’re at it, we might as well blame Chinese butterflys for the crazy weather we’ve been getting in Denver.

    PS: Thanks for listening. Crazy ranting helps me deal with loosing her.

    Comment by Sean Dial — August 19, 2008 @ 3:50 am | Reply

  6. […] There was a lettre written for my cousin by a muslim woman asking for forgiveness for the horrific acts done upon Nicky and her colleagues, I was truly moved. […]

    Pingback by the travelling quest :: On the road to mourning and family :: August :: 2008 — August 21, 2008 @ 6:18 pm | Reply

  7. Nicole and I went to boarding school together in high school. She was a year above me – but I vividly remember her as being charismatic and dedicated to her schoolwork and visions. It is tragic what happened to Nicole and I am truly saddened by the immoral act that sadly took her young life. I pray for her family and colleagues and know that God will hold her close and her loved ones close, as well. Bless Nicole, in her selfless acts to better the world. I am a school teacher in the “hood” and respect her acts and beliefs on a level that is incomprehensible. God speed. Liz

    Comment by Liz Jackson — August 23, 2008 @ 3:38 am | Reply

  8. I wrote a tribute to Nicole on my blog. Nicole has been one of my dearest friends for 15 years. We met in boarding school and loved to travel together. If anyone is interested in reading a little more about my memories of her, please visit
    If you can’t access it, I can paste it here, too.

    Comment by Juliana Goodwin — August 26, 2008 @ 5:01 pm | Reply

  9. The blog is titled “Open your best bottle of wine and toast world peace”

    Comment by Juliana Goodwin — August 27, 2008 @ 7:05 pm | Reply

  10. I met Nicole in an conference she organised on child soldiers in Winnipeg a couple of years ago and then communicated regularly ever since. She has so nice and lively, i can’t believe all that life is gone, I am sure it is there, somewhere, otherwise this Life of ours is unbearable. Bless Nicole for her courage and kindness.


    Comment by Enrique Restoy — August 28, 2008 @ 11:21 am | Reply

  11. […] see Sana’s post on her blog about Nicole. This is not the Islam that we believe in or practice. Share and […]

    Pingback by In memory of Nicole Dial | PakBlogging — September 9, 2008 @ 1:04 am | Reply

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