- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 19, 2001

Anger and intolerance
Indian Ambassador Lalit Mansingh was organizing aid for the families of Indians killed in the World Trade Center attack when he learned of the first assault against an Indian man in the United States.
Soon he heard of other attacks, including the killing of a gasoline station owner in Mesa, Ariz.
Mr. Mansingh now has to face the ugly truth that Indian nationals and Indian Americans, apparently mistaken for Arabs, are being assaulted in several U.S. cities.
"There are hate crimes all over America. These are expressions of anger and intolerance," he told Embassy Row yesterday.
Mr. Mansingh is most worried about Indian followers of the Sikh religion, who wear beards and turbans as required by their religious doctrine.
"Sikhs have been singled out in particular because of the image of Osama bin Laden with his flowing beard and turban," Mr. Mansingh said, referring to the Arab terrorist suspected of planning the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
A Sikh was wounded when gunmen fired on a temple in New York. In other cities, Sikh businesses have been stoned and their cars burned.
Mr. Mansingh said, "We are trying to educate the average American" to understand that Sikhs are not Muslims and that India is a partner in the war against terrorism.
"We stand shoulder to shoulder with the United States," he said.
Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee raised the issue of the assaults in a telephone conversation with President Bush, and Attorney General John Ashcroft has promised to "take up" the attacks, Mr. Mansingh said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Mansingh said India is working closely with the United States to provide intelligence on bin Laden's activities in Afghanistan.
"We have pretty clear knowledge of what is happening," he said.
Mr. Mansingh called Afghanistan, under militant Taliban rule, "the worst breeding ground for international terrorism."
The ambassador was in New York on the day of the attack on the twin towers, preparing for Mr. Vajpayee's visit to the United Nations. The visit has been canceled. More than 200 Indians may have been killed in the attack.
"We are trying to cope with the tragic events," he said. "We are trying to reassure the Indian community and trying to show our sympathy and support for the American people in their time of distress."

Justifying terrorism?
The U.S. ambassador to Indonesia yesterday denounced comments by two former Indonesian officials that he viewed as attempts to justify terrorism.
Ambassador Robert Gelbard, in a letter in the Business Times of neighboring Singapore, criticized statements by Juwono Sudarsono, a former defense minister, and Dewi Fortuna Anwar, an aide to former President B.J. Habibie.
"Terrorism threatens all humanity and can never, ever be justified," Mr. Gelbard wrote.
Mr. Gelbard was upset with comments Mr. Sudarsono made last week after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Mr. Sudarsono, in an article in the Jakarta Post, advised the Bush administration to wait until after investigations are completed before blaming anyone for the suicide hijackings of four airliners.
He also complained that Mr. Sudarsono "did not express interest" when offered an embassy briefing on terrorism.
In another article, Miss Anwar said the attacks "may lead to recognition that maybe some U.S. policies have resulted in a lot of enemies for the U.S. because many feel the U.S. has been unfair."
Mr. Gelbard wrote that their comments "could create an atmosphere of misunderstanding and hatred, rather than one of compassion and healing."

Talks with Syria
Theodore Kattouf, the new U.S. ambassador to Syria, discussed the terrorist attacks with Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk Sharaa over the weekend when Mr. Kattouf presented his diplomatic credentials.
Syria, a country the United States accuses of sheltering terrorists, has condemned the attacks and pledged its cooperation in hunting down the perpetrators.
The talks between Mr. Kattouf and Mr. Sharaa "covered the tragic events witnessed by the United States" in addition to Middle East developments, a Syrian official told reporters in Damascus.

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