I echo completely the statements made by colleagues, but I want to say something more about the person rather than the situation. There is a saying in Finnish that war is not dependent on one man. That might be so, but the war between democracy and extremism might be very dependent on one woman.
I think of the former, and now murdered, Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mrs Benazir Bhutto. I had the pleasure of meeting her and working with her and was deeply impressed by how warm, intelligent and brave she was. I am so proud to say that, to me, she was a friend and a political ally. So much has now been said and written about her that you might ask what more can be said. I think that I can share something that you did not, perhaps, know. Her last big project for democracy, human rights and women’s rights was the creation of an organisation called Muslim Women for Democracy and Human Rights. Together with other brave women like Asma Jehangir from Pakistan and Dr Shrin Ebadi from Iran, she created an organisation to encourage Muslim women around the world to stand up for the rights that the Koran gives women, according to Benazir Bhutto, but that had been denied for centuries.
She was elected by the world’s leading Muslim women democracy activists in May 2007 to be the first chairwoman of this new organisation. Benazir Bhutto wanted the organisation to comfort Muslim women, to give them legal advice and practical help and, above all, help them to form a network of Muslim women around the world to build a world of peace, where different religions could live in peace and with respect. She said, ‘I want to build a Pakistan where a Jew can go to the synagogue, a Christian to the church and a Muslim to the mosque, all without any fear’. Her dream was that the new organisation could help this dream come true all over the world, both in the West and in the Muslim world. I think that the best way to honour the memory of this brave sister for democracy is to support the organisation that she created as a sign of hope, even after she is gone.