- The Washington Times - Monday, December 15, 2003

‘Great evil’ ended

The Turkish ambassador could not believe the news when he logged on to the Internet Sunday morning and read of the capture of Saddam Hussein.

“I thought it was a bad joke,” Ambassador Osman Faruk Logoglu said.

The Algerian ambassador, who usually wakes up at 6 a.m., was trying to sleep late, when he got a call about 8 a.m. from his embassy.

“I thought, ‘Who is calling me at this hour.’ When I heard the news, I understood,” said Ambassador Idriss Jazairy.

All along Embassy Row, diplomats hustled to their offices or called colleagues to keep up on the fast-developing coverage of the arrest of the former Iraqi dictator.

Nermin Abdel Nabi, wife of Egyptian Ambassador Nabil Fahmy, woke her husband, saying, “They got him.”

“I put on every television station I could,” said Mr. Fahmy, who later called Cairo to discuss the developments.

“I hope this is an opportunity for the international community to come together and work for a sovereign Iraq that serves all of the Iraqi people,” the ambassador said.

Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan said Saddam’s capture ended “an infamous chapter of history for Iraq and the region.”

“Saddam Hussein was a menace to the Arab world, and his reign of terror will be remembered for its brutality, aggression and oppression,” he said. “His capture is another step in Iraq’s path toward peace and unity for all of its people.”

Mr. Jazairy also hopes that Saddam’s capture will help end violence in Iraq and accelerate its return to sovereignty.

“One can only be happy to know the Iraqi people are rid of a dictator who has inflicted so much suffering on his people,” Mr. Jazairy said.

Mr. Logoglu said Saddam’s arrest “removes an obstacle to security, stability, freedom and good government for Iraq.”

He added his “personal feeling” is that the Iraqi people should put Saddam on trial before any international tribune prosecutes him.

“The Iraqi people should be the first to try him,” Mr. Logoglu said.

Prince Bandar added his government’s congratulations to President Bush and “all those who have been instrumental in Saddam’s capture.”

He quoted the 18th-century British political philosopher, Edmund Burke, who said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

“The actions of these good men have removed a great evil from the world,” Prince Bandar said.

Madrassas no threat

Muslim religious schools, which critics say promote extremism, are no threat in Pakistan, a top Pakistani official said on a recent visit to Washington.

Nasim Ashraf, a minister of state and chairman of the National Commission for Human Development, said the schools, called madrassas, are now concentrating on modern sciences and traditional religious training. English is also a standard part of the curriculum.

“There is no reason to fear the spread of extremism,” he told Bush administration officials and policy experts at the Woodrow Wilson Center last week.

Mr. Ashraf also dismissed widely reported figures of 12,000 such schools in Pakistan, saying a recent survey confirmed only 6,700.

His commission, which promotes health, education and antipoverty programs, is a “source of support and a force multiplier.”

He said the government’s goal is to improve education not build more schools.

“Instead of investing in constructing buildings, we are concentrating on provision of trained teachers and books,” Mr. Ashraf said.

“Our experience is that community involvement is imperative, and that if the community provides premises for the schools, it also takes care of its upkeep, while our task is to provide quality education that can make a difference.”

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail [email protected]

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