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Students speak on Iraq

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More than 100 students and other members of the campus community attended the Red Pill Forum's discussion on Canada's involvement in the war with Iraq on Wed., Apr. 9.

"The main purpose is to get people informed, to allow people to speak out," said Rowena Gordon-Brown, President of the U of C Red Pill club. "The main point of a university is to learn how learn, learn how to think. We're here to give students a chance to think, and not to give them an opinion."

Panelists at the discussion were refugee student Simon Ajack from Sudan, fourth-year History student Nicholas Gafuik, third-year History student Tim Cole who is also executive director of Amnesty International Association at the U of C, and Muslim Students' Association President Mohamed Bassyouni.

"In the 1990s, we have seen threats to our values and beliefs in the form of terrorists and dictators," said Gafuik. "[Regarding] these values we hold dear and the security of our country, we need to have a clear concept of how we promote these values abroad. Canada's role is to promote a free and democratic Iraq."

Cole believed that any future action to democratize Iraq that might include Canada should be mediated through the United Nations.

"Freedom, justice and democracy is what we need in Iraq," he said. "Is the U.S. the actor to put that in place? Will it be a democratic administration put in place in charge of Iraqi people? I really don't think an American presence is what we need in Iraq right now."

With ongoing U.S. military action in Iraq, Ajack believes that it is too late to discuss preventing war.

"We are talking about something that has already happened," he said. "Canada cannot sit back anymore at this time."

"In every nation that has fought for independence, people have shed blood," Ajack continued. "The people who are against the war, they have good intentions for the Iraqi people. They would say the people should be free from a totalitarian government and the only way they can be free is to fight---war has to happen and it has already happened."

Bassyouni called on Canadians to not simply accept what happens in Iraq.

"The U.S. government wants a government [in Iraq] that is pro-U.S. We don't want that," Bassyouni said. "We want it to be where the Iraqi people will do this themselves. We don't put someone there they don't like, or there will be another Saddam Hussein."

"There's no dictatorships in Islam. The ruler has to be a just ruler, there has to be consensus," Bassyouni continued.

The panelists concluded by calling on the audience to take action.

Cole asked that students write their member of parliament, the prime minister and U.S. President George Bush. Gafuik called on Canadians to help the government lead a push for peace. Ajack said that while petitioning government is useful, a $10 donation from each student toward aid would be more useful. Bassyouni asked students to pray for the people of Iraq, and for the right solution to be found.

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