Revenge Through Dialogue

Mariane Pearl discusses her fight against terrorism

Journalist Mariane Pearl, the wife of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, said creating a global dialogue about terrorism has been a form of revenge for her in the aftermath of her husband's murder.

"I have a son who didn't get to meet his father. His father was murdered by terrorists," said Pearl who was five months pregnant when Daniel was killed in Pakistan. "To me, there was an element of revenge in taking on this dialogue."

Creating dialogue between people, particularly women who have been victimized, has helped her cope in the years following his murder, she said. It is a way of fighting terrorism.

"When you look at the exact opposite of the spectrum [of terrorism], you have dialogue," she told the audience of mostly women. "Dialogue is becoming more and more about survival for our planet."

Duke's Baldwin Scholars program sponsored the Page Auditorium talk. It is the fourth lecture in the Jean Fox O'Barr distinguished speaker series.

Mariane and Daniel traveled extensively, and Pearl admitted that she had concerns when Daniel was invited to work in the South Asian bureau for the Wall Street Journal.

"When Danny was kidnapped I knew that he as a person didn't matter. What mattered was him being American, being a journalist, being a Jew. The real goal of terrorism is fear," she said.

She and others turned her house in Karachi into a makeshift headquarters to orchestrate Daniel's safe return. At this time she used her communication skills to practice what she preached.

"We became a team that was the exact opposite of what the kidnappers were trying to promote. The police captain was Buddhist, like me. There were a couple of Muslims, a Jew, a Christian and a Hindu," Pearl said.

"My role was to create the dialogue. There were so many barriers and labels that separated us. I gathered everyone and said we have to understand each other now. We worked in that way for 5 weeks, overcoming prejudices and fear of each other. It was extremely difficult," she said.

Though the outcome was tragic, Pearl was buoyed by the values that held her and Daniel together as a couple. And she said she continues to draw strength from those values.

"It's not easy," she said, remarking on how much her son Adam resembles Daniel. "I have to renew my vows all the time."