Logo SAVE - Sisters against violent extremism

18. November 2015

Mothers School Leaders and SAVE Sisters respond to the Paris attacks

If by bombing Syria to retaliate Paris attackers, things would be sorted then we would have never seen today the re-invasion of the Taliban in Afghanistan. We have seen devastation in Kashmir, Paris, Afghanistan, Beirut, Palestine, Yemen and Iraq and what have we achieved. Nothing! We have been only able to create refugees, more and more refugees, Orphans, Widows, hatred, intolerance, sufferings, diseases, fear and all kinds of negative feelings. Globally, the situation has become horrendous as day by day we are turning nations into conflict zones. There is a dire need for the sincere approach from each one of us, especially mothers who are the most crucial untapped resources to achieve peace not through war but through their empathy, confidence, humility and positive attitude to achieve any problem. They are the solution-makers who can teach their children the language of peace without any vested interests. They do not need any defense training and weaponry, they have the innate skills of parenting and can teach their children the power of tolerance, patience, love and peace. They have to come on the forefront and become responsible for any problems in the same manner when they nurture their children in the childhood, when a child is hungry and the mother gives her baby milk without caring how much a baby had already or worrying about herself. Mothers have to shun their aggressive behaviors and develop proper communication lines with their children and give them a sense of identity, worth of love and brotherhood. Only, mothers can spread the message of love and make this world a violence-free environment so that we create a safe world and then together achieve the development. May peace prevail! Amen!
Sending peace from Kashmir from my trainers as well as amazing mothers who really want to make a change to make Kashmir a better place to live!!!
Aliya Bashir, Kashmir

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Paris attacks have brought back very painful memories of the way innocent, young students of Army Public School in Peshawar (Pakistan) were butchered last December. I feel as numb as I did at that time, unable to think who could be these people carrying out such acts of barbarism? I know for sure such acts may be done in the name of religion, but have nothing to do with religion. Amongst all the madness and mayhem during the Paris attacks, we also had a Muslim Algerian who saved the lives of two women. So, I am more and more convinced that terrorism and violent extremism has only one agenda- spread hatred and chaos among people of the world. Let us all be united: as women we can do more than men. We are the ones who can actually prevent these acts by inculcating in our children tolerance and love for human life eight from the beginning, detect early symptoms of them drifting towards extremism and use all our womanly intelligence to prevent it growing. In peace and Solidarity!
Tasneem Ahmar, Pakistan

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Again with a heavy heart and trepidation, I join the civilised world in condemning this senseless killing of innocent people in the name of a misguided cause that shows the warped minds of the perpetrators. We should not allow this ghastly event to derail us from trying to prevent such occurrences from happening in the future. It should instead galvanise us into devoting more time to save more young men from joining these blood thirsty militants and losing their lives in the process of killing innocent people.
Omar T. Mattar, Zanzibar

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Everyone in Kashmir watches the news with grief and concern. They feel with the people of Paris as death is part of the Kashmiri daily life. Every death is equal and should be acknowledged. Our hearts break to see innocent civilians getting killed.
Rifat Rathor, Srinagar, Kashmir

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One very important thing is to prevent the Islamists from isolating the youth from their parents. If they respect the Qu'ran they would not do this because in every religion the children must respect their parents. It is up to the parents to be very attentive and vigilant of what happens in the mosques. And governments must do the same. In France they also must take the necessary measures to mix youth from all different cultures so that the population is well-integrated. What has happened in Iraq or in Libya is the result of a world division caused by the interests of a few, but all of the mothers suffer in the same way. Having discussed with many people in France and Morocco and the other places I travel, I believe that one source of the violence is the situation of the Palestinians. We must quickly find a political solution, as well as for the problem with the Kurds, and between the Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq or Syria. I am sure that if the world leaders really wanted to find a solution, we would reach one. The role of women in the world is also an important question. I would like very much to find again my France, who welcomed me with open arms, kindly, respectfully and with tolerance. Today I find racism in people's daily views and actions. Sometimes it is unconscious. With the poverty and unemployment, this fosters the rise of the extremists. We must not respond to violence with violence. The response should be love, respect, and tolerance. This is the responsibility of the people and of the leadership.
Aicha El Wafi, France

* * *

It has been a terrible season with all the terrorist attacks in Paris and Nigeria. I don´t know what is happening to our world. We seem to be totally out of control and I think at this stage we need God - the whole world! These attacks can be quite discouraging to our work as it seems to send us back to square one, every time it happens. But we just have to keep on with the work. When we see peace restored in some communities and lives impacted by our work, that is the hope we have; that more lives can be saved and someone somewhere can be deradicalised; that someone will drop the tools of war to embrace dialogue and that someone somewhere will listen to his mother when she tells him not to kill in the name of religion. That is our hope!
Esther Ibanga, Nigeria

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Time to come out of our identity boxes
Paris attacks bring us to yet another reality check, growing intolerance and vulnerability to deal with mindset that is brutal and full of hate. It also moves us to see the rising gap between cultures and followers of different religion which is a very dangerous trend, threatening peaceful coexistence.

Religious profiling contributes in exclusion of a large portion of population hence preventing inclusion . Sociologists have been saying these things for a very long time but it seems that we continue to confront it to this day in one form or other. Paris, Beirut, Nigeria, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and many more countries who face terror, brutality and violence have one thing in common and it is the COMMON people. People who have got nothing against others. They are more concerned with their own life than what others believe or do not believe. They are the people who work, earn, help, enjoy, love the people around them and what a pity that they are the target of worst form of violence. This is the time to not only express solidarity with the people in Paris and all other places where innocent lives were brutally attacked but to come out of our identity boxes. Humanity first, a human life needs not to be identified as a European White Christian,  Asian/Arab Brown Muslim or African Black life. 
We need to remove the many shades that we have been carrying to perceive other with a specific tag. This only helps those who want to create a gap between civilizations, who believe in exclusivist "us" versus "them" approach.  The most important thing right now is to contribute in whichever manner we can to prevent polarization in the name of religion. We need pluralistic approach, hate will create more hate and this will  never end. Need of the time is to engage and not isolate Muslim communities within Europe and globally. We need to understand that Muslims in each conflict zone are challenging and rejecting violent extremism that is why they are the target of terrorism in their own countries. In my own country, the victims of Taliban extremism were no other than the common Pakistanis, belonging to the same faith but rejecting the ideology that Taliban profess. It is not the war between religions but clash between intolerant mindset and humanity, between supporters of violence and those who oppose it.
Arshi Saleem Hashmi, Pakistan (currently Yale University USA)


As the mother of a victim of the attacks in the USA on September 11, 2001, I am gratified by the show of unity among the millions of residents of diverse faiths and backgrounds who came together in Paris earlier this year for mutual support. It was a beautiful and most appropriate response to violence.
In February 2002, several dozen family members of the USA attacks formed “September 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows”. We have grown to a membership of more than 125 families and connection to countless victims of terrorist acts worldwide:
In 2001, we were contacted and comforted by people from all over the country and the world. We hope to do the same for victims in Paris. I’d like to quote Bruce Wallace, a fellow member of Peaceful Tomorrows, who wrote:
“What to do about ISIS? It is not a question of violence or non-violence. Killing for what you believe in is part of the definition of evil, and we do not wish to become evil. There is no question here. We must continue on the peaceful road. There are many non-violent actions that can effectively halt the growth of ISIS, locally, nationwide, and worldwide, too. However none of these offer the instant gratification that an all-out war falsely promises. We tried that path in Iraq and the world is still reeling from our mistake.
I cry for those caught in the ISIS Caliphate as I cry for all the world’s victims of cruelty, greed, and madness, but I will not let sorrow and frustration move me to embrace violence as a solution. Nor will I let fear of terrorism move me to irrational action.

Perhaps “What to do about ISIS?” is not even a real question. “What can we do to help steer the world to more peaceful tomorrows?” is a better question with a better chance at achieving success. We have all been working in our own ways to do just that in ways both large and small. All we have to do is continue.

I’d love to see a meeting that takes the attacks on innocent civilians in Paris as a seed to help define further actions, projects, etc. in the coming year.”

And from the homepage of Peaceful Tomorrows: “Violence and hate must be met with its opposite. The light will not be extinguished in Paris, nor in any among us.”
Phyllis Rodriguez, New York / USA


The tremendous grief of losing a relative, a friend or a neighbour cannot be described with words. As I watch the news, devastating memories of the attacks in Madrid in 2004, where I lost my brother Óscar, come to my mind. All too similar. Innocent civilians again. In this fragile scenario where fear is a permanent component, we cannot let this grief be used as a weapon to restrict freedoms and to generate more violence. To all coalition governments: Do not attack in the name of the victims, for most of us do not want to solve this conflict with more violence since we know this will lead us nowhere. You are also killing innocent civilians, as the ones you cry for in Paris. Violence is not the way to end up this barbaric actions. To the media: Do not talk about terrorism and Islam or Muslim countries as if they were the same. The overwhelming majority of the victims of islamist extremists are Muslims. You can play a crucial role because you are very powerful in shaping people's ideas, so be responsible and make well-informed statements. Let us all fight against this mixture of sadness, fear and helplessness and unite our voices for peace.
Beatriz Abril Alegre, Sister of Óscar who died in the Madrid train bombings

Terrorism has become commonplace in our lives. No matter where we live, none of us is safe and we are all exposed to the growing phenomenon. Nothing is the same anymore. Now we all live in fear, hatred and anger. Society has some responsibility for terrorism, which takes hold of the uneducated minority. This minority has developed a new interpretation of religion which is not in accordance with what is right and is formed out of their own narrow context. Society had an underwhelming response at first because we did not recognize the power and the impact of these new interpreters and agitators, especially on the young people. The fearful youth having lost hope in life that celebrates the community of different languages, cultures, races, ethnicities, religions are drawn into accepting division, war, death and suffering. They embraced the ideology of terrorism and remained in the sin of silence, facing neither resistance nor counter speech.
Nuna Zvizdic, Zene Zenama/Women for Women, Bosnia

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I am a young Muslim woman and a mother of two daughters. I feel the world today has no more peace. We have seen this in so many countries which were attacked by a group of terrorists in the name of religion. I believe every religion is teaching good values and tells us not to kill each other. We are smart enough to not be triggered easily into something not good. I am taking care of my children’s future, but if we cannot be a good example for them, we cannot create security in the world. What will their future be like? Indonesia is a big country, the majority is Muslim. As a female leader, I really condemn all forms of violence. This is not humanity. Let us mothers strengthen our sprit as we are the first school teachers to the future of our children. Let us create security in our homes, in our families, in our communities, in our countries, all over the world. We should work together to combat radicalization and prevent atrocities like those that have recently occurred. We love peace. We care for humanity. What we do now is for the future of our children.
Dewirini Anggraeni, Subijanto, Indonesia

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Women, as mothers, daughters and aunts are often complemented with weaving communities together. As a group with strong emotional intelligence skills, we are the glue in families, fair and inclusive leaders.With our ability to collaborate we bring stability and prosperity to businesses. So when the battle fields move to our common spaces, as it was in Ankara, Beirut, in the air over Egypt and now again in Paris: when the fabric we helped to weave is attacked, then we women have the right and responsibility to actively respond, and bring our healing skills  to bear in every opportunity that we have, be it at home, in the office or the public sphere. The SAVE Mothers School platform provides a safe space for women in countries at risk and under fire to explore and strengthen their security potential. For many of the mothers the daily struggle for peace on the home front can be draining and isolating. Yet by coming together in the workshops with like-minded women to discuss their concerns they are re-energised and motivated to act.  The mothers share their success stories: reconnecting with their children and husbands, keeping them safe from radicalisation and changing conversations at home from the black and white language that can lead to fear and hate. It is fantastic to witness and be part of! Best of all, women have become more confident in their role, in the power of positive mothering.  I don´t think it is too late to spread this goodwill leadership, in fact as world leaders stand ready to unleash even more of the same military might in their war on terror, our balancing, humanising, problem solving inputs are desperately needed.
Georgina Nitzsche, Mothers School trainer and coordinator, Vienna


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