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America Recovers: Discussion About Religion and Fighting with Jose Ramos Horta

Aired October 5, 2001 - 11:23   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Fighting in the name of religion is a centuries old problem. My next guest here in a unique position to talk about the current tensions between the Muslim and the Judeo- Christian world.

Jose Ramos Horta won the Nobel Peace Prize for his struggle on behalf of the people of East Timor, a predominantly Catholic territory, which until recently was occupied by Indonesia, the world's largest Muslin nation.

Jose Ramos Horta, live in Washington, sir, nice to see you again, and good morning.

JOSE RAMOS HORTA, NOBEL PEACE PRIZE WINNER: Good morning. Thank you.

HEMMER: As a man who is known for peace, how do you feel knowing that military strikes could come at anytime? Sometimes in the face of evil, the use of force is the only option available to countries. To not the use force in these circumstances would be weakness, would be (UNINTELLIGIBLE) innocent people to tyranny.

So although I favor peaceful means, diplomatic negotiations, it seems that the peaceful means have been exhausted. The U.S., the Europeans have given ample time to the Taliban regime in Afghanistan to handover Osama bin Laden.

HEMMER: Some people might be strike to hear the response. Do others who have won the Nobel Peace Prize believe the same way, the same thing?

HORTA: No, I have gathered together most of the Nobel Peace Prize lawyers on a Web site called "thecommunity.com/crisis," from Nelson Mandela to His Holiness (ph) the Dalia Lama (ph), Bishop Desmond Tutu, Yasser Arafat, to engage in dialogue with the people, those who want to access the Web site. And we have different views. His Holiness is against the use of force, period. For our -- my initiative was aimed mainly to offer condolences, comfort to the American people and so many other who died in the World Trade Center, many of hundreds of Muslims, Arabs, Pakistanis died in World Trade Center, Australians, Japanese citizens from so many nationalities.

But also to appeal to Americans to Europeans to Australians in general to please do not generalize, do not lump together other Arabs and Muslims with those who perpetrate those acts at the World Trade Center. We understand the anger in the hearts of many of Americans, but we appeal. Do not turn your anger into hatred, into revenge. Do not abandon your compassion. The U.S. will get out of this tragedy. Greater still, if it stays above hatred and revenge, and that's my appeal to American people. At the same time.

But at the same time agreeing, accepting that maybe the only option today is the use of force against the Taliban. And let's not forget who are those being oppressed in Afghanistan, for instance. Millions of Afghans, who are Muslims. So the Taliban is one of the worst evils of the century.

HEMMER: And, sir to follow-up on that point, when you talk about, and many people talk about it the possibility of the strain between the Western world and the Islamic world, you know from firsthand experience what happened to your people and your country, and for that matter, the rest of Indonesia? Is there way for you to put finger on how best to approach that, to make sure that strain kept at absolute minimum?

HORTA: For instance, I totally disagree with the concept of clash of civilization. If we are going to have a clash between Christianity and the Islamic world, well, you have a million of Muslims living in Europe and the United States, who are not involved in this clash of civilization. There are different values, different approach to life, to problems. We have (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Indonesia, a country of 210 million. It's one of the most moderate Islamic countries in the world. Indonesians have gotten used to material beings through development, through motivation, through television, through the CIA and in other TV network. Indonesians know what life is under the Taliban.

Would an Indonesian want a Taliban-style rule in Indonesia. Would people in Jordan, Indonesia, Morocco, would they want a Taliban regime kind in their countries? No, I think there are hundreds of millions of Muslims who share this same values with Christians, with Buddhist, with Hindus, and what we share is freedom, dignity, freedom from fear, freedom from hunger, and that's what we all share. So I do not believe that there is a clash of civilization. I don't believe we are heading toward a cataclysmic clash between Christians and Muslims. It's quite the contrary. I know Muslims in this country, in the United States, who immediately after World Trade Center incident, they mourned for those who died.

My own driver, today a Pakistani Muslim, he used his car to take Americans for two hours, three hours from New York for free without charging them anything.

HEMMER: A few seconds left here, I don't mean to interrupt.

You're free to finish your thought. I apologize. My producer is telling me to hustle along, because we've got to get a quick timeout.

But listen, I really appreciate your time and your thoughts. It always pleasure to hear your perspective. HORTA: It's a pleasure, thank you.

HEMMER: Jose Ramos Horta, winner of Nobel Prize for peace, many thanks to you, sir.

HORTA: Pleasure, thank you.

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