Mandela heckled at mosque for supporting war

Published Dec 13, 2001


Former president Nelson Mandela yesterday expressed support for US military strikes in Afghanistan, but ran into a barrage of protest at the mosque where he made his remarks.

Mandela visited the Grey Street Mosque, a world-famous landmark in the city, where he condemned the bombing of women and children in Afghanistan, but gave support to military action against Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda terrorist network.

"I never supported the bombing of the whole of Afghanistan and the killing of innocent children, elderly people, women and the disabled.

"I confined myself to Bin Laden and his organisation," Mandela said.

He said he believed military action by the US was justified, because innocent people "belonging to more than 80 different countries" had died in the September 11 attacks on Washington and New York.

"They had nothing to do with the policies of the United States of America and that is why I'm supporting the strike against Bin Laden and his organisation," Mandela said.

Earlier this month, the elder statesman said he had assured US President George W Bush of his support for the attacks on Afghanistan, but said this only extended to action against terrorists taking refuge there.

"I will continue doing that. I will never hesitate in supporting the strike against terror," he said amid shouts of protest from worshippers at the mosque where he made the speech.

His hecklers later emphasised that no conclusive proof had ever been produced linking Bin Laden to the attacks on the New York World Trade Center and the Pentagon. - Sapa-AFP

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