Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Two Mothers

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post on the anniversary of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center, here are excerpts from two recent newspaper articles:

Phyllis Rodriguez of White Plains, whose son Greg, 31, worked for Cantor Fitzgerald and died at the World Trade Center, and Aicha El-Wafi of Narbonne, France, the mother of Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called 20th hijacker, came to a luncheon discussion yesterday at the WESPAC Foundation, a peace and justice center in White Plains.

"I want something good to come from something horrible," Rodriguez told about 30 peace workers and anti-death-penalty activists.

Since the two mothers met in November 2002, they have visited each other six times in the United States and France. Each visit has strengthened their friendship and their resolve to spread the message that revenge and violence can only lead to more suffering for other innocent people, they said.

"Dialogue has helped us know each other and taught us tolerance," el-Wafi said in French. "We understand each other's suffering. Leaders divide people in order to reign. But through discussion, people, no matter what their religions, can understand each other."

Moussaoui was arrested on Aug. 16, 2001, for an immigration violation and is serving a life sentence for conspiracy in the 9/11 attacks.

Orlando Rodriguez, Greg's father, testified for the defense in Moussaoui's death-penalty trial in Alexandria, Va. Yesterday he said he did so because "to kill someone for what they believe or want to do would be a terrible injustice."

But befriending el-Wafi has come at a price for the Rodriguezes. "There is a good side and a bad side," Orlando Rodriguez said. "There is always the reminder of why we have this friendship."

Read the rest of the Journal News article here

Aicha el-Wafi has been to White Plains before. She came about a year ago to visit with members of the growing interfaith community in our city. She came in the midst of her son’s (Zacarias Moussaoui) trial for his alleged role in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. She was accompanied then by family members of victims of the 9/11 attacks.

Tuesday evening at Dorry’s Diner on Mamaroneck Avenue, el-Wafi came again. She had spoken on Sunday at Memorial United Methodist Church and was invited to join members of the White Plains community for their weekly gathering at Dorry’s. el-Wafi was accompanied by Colleen Kelly, whose brother was killed on 9/11, and by Phyllis and Orlando Rodriguez, who lost their son that day.

Renny Cushing, founder and Executive Director of Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights (MVFHR), was also in attendance. Cushing, who said “there is a dominant paradigm of revenge that needs to be addressed,” had brought the group together in November 2002 in response to el-Wafi’s desire to reach out to families of the victims of 9/11. In 2004, MVFHR was launched on International Human Rights Day and has become a growing movement seeking the end of the death penalty around the world.

Read the rest of the White Plains Times article here

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