Congressional Letter asks Obama to raise real issues in his speech to the “Muslim World”
By: Dr. Walid Phares (bio)
Attached is a letter signed by ten members of the US House of Representatives and sent today to President Obama. In this powerful letter the legislators ask the President to include important points in his speech to the Muslim world on June 4, from Cairo.
The Congressional letter reminds the President that he needs to raise the following main ideas:
1. That the world threat are the extremist-Islamists (known as Wahabis and Khomeinists). That the Muslim world must declare al Qaeda and the Taliban as a menace against Humanity
2. That rich Governments in the region must help the poor segments of their own societies.
3. That the US must commit to help the dissidents and democracy groups in the region
4. That the Muslim world must help Darfur against the criminal regime in Sudan
5 That Lebanon should not be abandoned to Hezbollah
6. That any solution to the Israel-Palestinian problem must be found through a mutual recognition of the state of Israel and any future Palestinian state.
7. That the charge of “Islamophobia” must be rejected
8. That Pakistan’s efforts against the Taliban should be supported
9. That non-Muslim minorities inside the Muslim world must be protected in as much as Muslim minorities in the West are protected.
10. That the Muslim Government must be reminded of the gigantic effort by the United States to save Muslims endangered around the world and of the significant foreign aid and humanitarian assistance sent to Muslim populations in need.
I think this is one of the most important letters issued by legislators under the Obama Administration to make sure US policy serves the interests of democracy and freedom around the world. It is important that this letter initiates a debate on the US relations with the Muslim world before the President arrives to Cairo for the delivery of the speech.
May 28, 2009
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
As you prepare to address the “Muslim world” on June 5th from Egypt, we ask that you remain mindful of the power of your words. You have the ability to inspire the countless individuals who wither under the control of repressive governments, encourage Middle Eastern governments to engage important issues, and remind the world of America’s commitment to protecting religious freedom for all people of faith, including Muslims.
The Middle East has historically been a place of religious pluralism and cultural diversity. However, groups espousing extremist ideologies based upon Wahabbism and Khomeinism have marginalized and repressed both non-Muslim and Muslim women, youth, reformists, pro-democracy advocates, human rights activists, as well as ethnic and religious minorities. Groups such as the Taliban and al Qaeda, whose ideology is intent on dividing humanity between Muslims and non-Muslims, have killed countless individuals, including Muslims, in an effort to overthrow Middle Eastern governments and weaken other non-Muslim governments.
Based on these facts, we urge you to call upon all governments to join the international community in declaring al Qaeda and the Taliban a threat to humanity, and urge them to fight these radical Islamists.
We also ask you to urge Middle Eastern governments to relentlessly lend their support to the marginalized, weak, and oppressed segments of their societies by recognizing the universal importance of basic human dignity.
In a recent opinion piece published in The Washington Post, Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu proclaimed that “repression cannot be rewarded; the voices of those it has silenced must be heard as if the walls of their jails did not exist.” It must be made clear that the United States will stand with all those that are oppressed around the world, from the Baha’is in Iran to the imprisoned blogger in Egypt.
Countless dissidents can attest that their lives improved when their plight was raised publicly by leaders in the West. The pressure put on the Egyptian government by Members of Congress and the Administration following the imprisonment of famed Egyptian dissident Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim helped lead to his eventual release in 2003, after almost three years in prison. We therefore ask you to raise the individual cases of dissidents that languish in the prisons, and others that face persecution, to assure them that they are not forgotten by the American people. We ask you to advocate for the region’s struggling religious minorities as is consistent with our own rich tradition of religious freedom.
We ask you to call upon the governments of the Middle East to commit to defend freedom and democracy in pluralistic Lebanon, and to call for a stop to political assassinations and a disbarment of militias within their borders. We urge you to ask the Arab League to help the mostly Muslim population of Darfur, which is subjected to a genocide at the hands of a regime whose president is under indictment by the International Criminal Court. We urge you to ask them to help Pakistan in its war against the Taliban, al Qaeda, and other terrorist organizations. We ask you to call on the Organization of Islamic Conference to abandon its goal of imposing so-called “Defamation of Religions” laws which will repress reformists and groups seeking democracy in Muslim and non-Muslim societies alike.
We urge you to ask the governments of the Middle East to commit to a just and lasting resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict via a two states solution based on a mutual recognition between Israel and any Palestinian state-to-be. The starting point for this should not be Israeli concessions, but the recognition of Israel and its right to exist.
Please remind your audience that while the international community is committed to help Muslim minorities around the world, including those in India, Russia, China, and the West, at the same time we must ensure that all other minorities inside the “Muslim world” are granted their basic rights. We urge you to ask them to discuss the root causes of what they call “Islamophobia,” particularly the rise of radical Islamist ideologies, which have generated tensions and violence worldwide among Muslims and non-Muslims alike. We urge you to ask them to help Egypt fight the scourge of terrorism and stand by its own Coptic minority, often targeted by extremists’ violence. We urge you to ask them to speak out against radical Islamists all around the world and not condone their behavior with complacency.
We urge you to highlight the contributions of the American people to ameliorate suffering in Muslim communities around the world. For example, the United States military saved countless lives in the hours and days immediately following the tsunami that ravaged Indonesia. Similarly, our military forces were the first on the scene to deliver humanitarian relief and medical treatment to Pakistan in 2005 when that country was hit by a terrible earthquake. In fact, your Administration recently announced $100 million in aid to provide relief to the Pakistani people who are affected by the effort to rout Taliban extremists in that country. These are efforts of which the American people can be proud, and which your speech could rightly highlight.
Similarly, your speech can remind the Muslim world of U.S. efforts in the Bosnia and Kosovo conflicts to prevent Muslim massacres and ethnic cleansing, as well as American efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan which liberated 50 million people, mostly Muslim, from the jaws of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship and the cruel violence of the Taliban terror regime.
Mr. President, you have a great opportunity to engage and inspire Middle Eastern governments and Muslims around the world with your words. We urge you to consider including these important recommendations in your speech.