A translation of the letter below appeared on page 1 of Corriere Della Sera, Rome, Italy, August 31, 2004, and was subsequently printed in L’Opinione and
An Open Letter to the People of Italy
By Judea and Ruth Pearl
We, the parents of Daniel Pearl, together with millions of concerned citizens around the world, are shocked and saddened by the barbaric murder of Enzo Baldoni, a journalist and a son, husband and father, a humanitarian, a messenger of peace.
Two and a half years ago, when the world reacted with shock and indignation to the brutal murder of our son, we were hoping that lives of journalists would never again be used as a bargaining chip between parties in conflict. We were wrong.
We were also hoping that the civilized world would unite to protect itself against the new strand of evil, one that boasts in cruelty and ritualizes inhumanity. We were wrong.
The recent series of exhibition killings in Iraq, culminating in the murder of Enzo Baldoni and the captivity of two French journalists, proves that this new tide of madness is aimed, not at one country, or a policy or an institution — but aimed at the very fabric of civilized society. It is aimed at all of us. And it must be stopped — by all of us.
Decent people of all backgrounds must stand up and act together to repel these barbaric acts back to the realm of the inconceivable.
While no amount of consoling can heal the pain that Enzo Baldoni’s family suffers, nor the grief felt by the Italian people, we want to assure you that a growing community of principled people is rallying to your side, steadfastly convinced that the new wave of madness can be stopped.
Over the past two and a half years, through our tragedy, we have witnessed an outpouring of concern, from Muslims, Christians and Jews, that serves as a counterweight to the barbarism and assures us that we are not powerless. There are a number of things that we can do to help preserve the sort of society we want.
First, we must send an unambiguous message to the perpetrators of these crimes that their actions will not advance their objectives.
Second, we can urge leaders of the international community to declare all forms of exhibition killings — the killing of an innocent person for the purpose of transmitting a message of grievance — a crime against humanity, with all the legal and moral ramifications that such crimes entail.
Third, we should implore religious leaders of all denominations to proclaim these crimes a capital sin, or apostasy, punishable by religion’s harshest instruments — ex-communication, hellfire and damnation.
Fourth, looking into our own lives, we can tame the hatred that spawns these crimes by promoting cross-cultural understanding, and respect for difference in all countries and at all levels of society.
We salute the Italian people for not bowing to terrorists’ demands and for taking a firm stand against bigotry and xenophobia. We are also grateful to you for supporting our family in times of hardship and in our more recent efforts to promote tolerance.
We hope and pray that the two French journalists, Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot, will be released unharmed, and that all journalists will be allowed to continue their important work of keeping the world informed.
May the memory of Enzo Baldoni strengthen our hearts and may we all find solace in seeing humanity triumphant.
Judea and Ruth Pearl are co-founders of the Daniel Pearl Foundation (www.danielpearl.org), established to further the values of their son, who was murdered in Pakistan in 2002.