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….

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