If Cindy and Akbar Could Meet

How nice if Cindy Sheehan and Akbar Ganji could meet, even if via satellite in a CNN broadcast.

Both are in the media spotlight these days as protesters who demand answers from their leaders.

Both want a change in the Middle East. And both have suffered for the slow change in the region.

Ms. Sheehan is a bereaved mother from California whose soldier-son was killed in Iraq and who is camped outside the Texas ranch of the vacationing President Bush. She demands to hear directly from him why her son had to go to war and die, and why the US is in Iraq at all. Her cause has made her a hero to those opposed to that war.

Mr. Ganji is a journalist in Iran who started a hunger strike on June 11 after being jailed on a charge of being "un-Islamic" because he demands democratic reform in Iran. His reports of mysterious killings of dissidents under Iran's clerical leaders have made him a hero in Iran. (Official Iranian reports say he ended his hunger strike on Tuesday.)

Both Sheehan and Ganji deserve great sympathy for their suffering: she for the loss of a child; he for being jailed on trumped-up charges and then subjecting himself to a long hunger strike as a way to draw attention to his cause.

Both once supported the leaders they now criticize. Ganji was an advocate of the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Sheehan, after meeting Bush last year, lauded him, saying, "I now know he's sincere about wanting freedom for the Iraqis."

Yet now both are on either side of a debate on how much sacrifice should be made to bring democracy to the Middle East.

Sheehan doesn't think the US should be in Iraq, helping the Iraqis build a democracy as a model for other Middle East nations and, as Mr. Bush would argue, help the region stop being a breeding ground for terrorists. She has drawn an expanding group of protesters to Texas.

Ganji, however, indicates a willingness to die for democracy in his Middle East nation. He is just the type of democracy-fighter that Bush hails and wants the US to support. The European Union, like the US, has called for his release.

Perhaps in this media age they could be brought together for a public discussion. The two might be able to find common ground in this big debate in the war on terror.

They've both made great sacrifices in the long struggle over bringing democracy to the Middle East.

They've both found a way to touch hearts through the media.

They both want answers. Maybe they can help the rest of us get along.

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