Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|01/03/02 at 02:18:55|
[quote]Mandela backtracks on Bin Laden statement[/quote]
January 02 2002 at 12:22PM
Former president Nelson Mandela has repudiated his controversial statement that Saudi-born dissident Osama bin Laden should be held responsible for the September 11th attacks on the United States.
In a statement released by his office on Tuesday, he said subsequent discussions with family, friends and advisors had convinced him that his view may be "one-sided and over-stated".
Mandela provoked the ire of the Muslim community in November last year when he vocalised his support for the war against Afghanistan at a Washington press conference held after his meeting with US President George W Bush.
In December, he reiterated his support for the war during a speech delivered at Durban's Grey Street mosque, saying Bin Laden should be captured and tried for the attacks.
At the time, the former president told the audience that Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network should be smashed and terrorist strongholds destroyed.
In response to the speech, angry Muslims said the elder statesman had no right to label Bin Laden a terrorist when he had not been convicted in a court of law.
In his surprising about-face, Mandela said on Tuesday that he wished to register his sincere regret "if the manner in which we stated our position gave any offence to Muslims in South Africa and throughout the world".
It was pointed out to him that such unreserved support for the war in Afghanistan gave the impression that "we are insensitive to and uncaring about the suffering of the Afghan people..."
He also said he would be arranging meetings with Muslim leadership in South Africa early in the new year to personally convey this message to them.
"We are also writing to President Bush to appropriately qualify the view we previously expressed to him in person and in correspondence."
Mandela clarified his new position on the matter, saying labelling Bin Laden a terrorist could "be seen as undermining some of the basic tenets of the rule of law".
He emphasised that his opposition to all forms of terrorism remained total and said he supported international efforts to combat and eradicate terrorism. - Sapa
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