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http://www.newsday.com/news/nationworld/world/ny-linuns313067401dec31,0,331194 .story?coll=ny-worldnews-headlines Iraqis Focus Of Nuns’ Fears War worries inspire campaign By Bart Jones STAFF WRITER December 31, 2002 Sister Margaret Galiardi broke the U.S. ban on traveling to Iraq two years ago and saw the suffering faces of the Iraqi people and dozens of nuns from her order who live and work in the land of Saddam Hussein. Now, as the United States appears poised to launch a war against Iraq, Galiardi and other members of the Amityville Dominican Sisters fear the Iraqi people they met and their fellow nuns - along with thousands of other Iraqis and Americans - will be injured or killed. They are organizing an anti-war campaign, handing out bumper stickers and buttons that proclaim, "I Have Family in Iraq." "It's almost impossible that we avoid this war," said Sister Nancy Goult, one of three Dominican sisters from Long Island who made the journey to Iraq in February 2000. "But I have to keep dreaming." The third, Sister Marjorie McGregor, recalls hugging Iraqi mothers as they stood over their dying babies in hospitals she said were devastated in part by U.S.-led economic sanctions. Now, McGregor fears more suffering will come to blameless and ordinary Iraqis. "We have to work toward peace," she said. The Dominicans are members of one of the larger orders of nuns in the United States and on Long Island, with about 8,200 members nationwide including 650 in Queens, Brooklyn and Nassau and Suffolk counties. It has thousands more overseas, including about 135 in Iraq, where a branch was established in 1873. The vast majority of Dominican sisters in the heavily Muslim nation are natives of Iraq. In 1999, Galiardi and others started organizing delegations made up mainly of Dominican sisters to visit Iraq to protest the sanctions, which human rights groups blame partly for the deaths of thousands of children. She and the other Long Islanders took a 12-hour ride across the desert from Amman, Jordan, to Baghdad and faced $25,000 fines from the U.S. government, although none were punished. Earlier this year, the Dominican order helped bring to the United States two of their brethren from Iraq, in part, to build bridges between the two nations. When the two attended a national meeting of Dominican sisters in October and spoke of their homeland, the order decided to launch the "I Have Family in Iraq" campaign. "Really, I am scared," one of the nuns, Sister Luma, who was a biology teacher in Iraq, said yesterday in a telephone interview from Springfield, Ill., where she has moved. "When they bombed, they bombed everything." The Dominicans on Long Island, whose efforts also are being organized by Sister Margaret Mayce, started receiving their bumper stickers and buttons three weeks ago. They're handing them out to anyone who wants one. The sisters contend that the Bush administration has failed to convincingly make the case that the United States needs to wage war against Iraq. They assert that while they are not cheerleaders for Hussein, war will result in thousands of Iraqi and American deaths, further destabilize the Persian Gulf and Middle East, provoke more terrorist attacks against the United States and do little to help capture Osama bin Laden. They believe many Americans agree with them. "I think a lot of people are very nervous about this war," Galiardi said. "It's not like we're trying to be rebellious teenagers. ... For us the primary law is God's law. And God's law says, 'Thou shall not kill.'" Added Mayce, "I think everybody agrees something has to be done, but ultimately more harm and more devastation will come from waging war." The Bush administration argues that Hussein's regime possesses weapons of mass destruction and must be eliminated before he attacks the United States and its allies. Galiardi said she fears war will simply increase the suffering of the Iraqi people. When the nuns visited the hospitals there, a woman who had given birth was in danger of dying and needed a blood transfusion. The sisters from Long Island offered to be donors. But doctors said they couldn't: The hospital didn't have the plastic bags needed for a transfusion. Copyright © 2002, Newsday, Inc. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk