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NC Lawmakers, Residents React To U.S. Attack On Afghanistan

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RALEIGH — Preserving peace as we know it is what North Carolina Congressman Bob Etheridge says the miliary action is about.

"The terrorists started this on September 11th on their terms. They must now know -- bin Liden and his groups around the world -- it will end on our terms," Etheridge says.

"The world community is now together, and we're going to stand together and end it," he says.

U.S. Senator John Edwards echoed Etheridge's support of the attacks, saying that Congress stands behind President Bush's decision.

"We all knew we were going to act. It was just a question of when, and I think all the American people will be supportive and glad to see that the president has decided to go forward," says Edwards.

Many local residents agree, including some who gathered at Moore Square Sunday to listen to the U.S. Navy Bluegrass Band.

"I think it's probably time we did some kind of reaction to what happened on the 11th," says Larry Minor. "I'm probably happy that it did go."

Vance Beautte agrees. "I think that we're probably on the right path," he says. "Hopefully we'll get some of those people out there and hopefully we don't back off and keep going at it."

Another supporter simply wondered, "How come we waited so long?"

The band's rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" was a big hit with the crowd.

Not everyone is as supportive.

The Sadat family of Raleigh moved to the United States from Afghanistan more than two decades ago.

Abdul Ahad Sadat believes the Americans have a case and that bin Laden should be brought to justice, but he says a trial would have been better.

Sadat says he does not believe the U.S. gave diplomacy a chance, and he believes that the air strikes will not end terrorism.

Sadat is not sure that America will find bin Laden, although he also says he is not sure the country can hide him. He is only sure that innocent people will suffer.

"If bin Laden was in Russia or China, would you have done the same thing? Or, would you have gone through the diplomatic channels?" he asks.

Sadat says the food drop to Afghanistan before the air strikes was a good gesture. However, he says western countries have been aware of the starvation of the Afghan people for decades, and he thinks the timing is convenient. He does not think the action will buy goodwill for the Americans unless they follow it up after the air strikes end.

The Sadats have family members in at least three cities in the strike zones.

The Sadats are not alone in their feelings. The Islamic Center in Raleigh is opposed to the military strikes in Afghanistan.

A spokesman for the center says the strikes do not serve the cause of justice.

"We have concern about the loss of life as a result of the air strikes in Afghanistan," says Ekram Haque. "We think that our government has not done enough to establish the guilt of the people it has accused of masterminding the attacks against American targets and also that our government has not done enough to pursue the legal and diplomatic remedies available to it."

The Center has been threatened a number of times since the attacks and now has a police officer patroling the area.

Anti-war activists also gathered in downtown Raleigh Sunday to protest the strikes.

About two dozen protesters held signs outside the federal courthouse.

They too express concern about the Afghan people.

"We have, literally, refugees fleeing from the bombing, from the threat of bombing this past month, arriving at the border, being stuck at the border, and starving while they wait to get killed from missiles," says one protestor. "It's abhorrent, and we say that we're doing it in the name of peace."

Protesters say the U.S. should not respond to terrorism with more violence.

"We think it's really important that we don't go to war with Afghanistan because by doing that we're doing exactly what they're doing," says one teenage protestor.

"The military should be abolished as far as I'm concerned," says another protestor. "The military action is an act of violence and terrorism. I consider the U.S. military a terrorist organization."

The group decided weeks ago that they would stage a demonstration once the bombings began.

Protestors say they plan to hold more peace rallies as long as the military strikes continue.


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