Tuesday, March 10, 2009

ME Policy letter to Obama

March 10, 2009
CONTACT: Radwan Masmoudi, 202-251-3036, masmoudi@islam-democracy.org
Shadi Hamid, 202-470-2509, shadi.hamid@pomed.org

Open Letter to President Obama to be released today to the media at:

Press Conference
Tuesday, March 10, 2:30-3:30 p.m.
National Press Club, Lisagor Room
529 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20045

Several of the co-signers will be available to answer questions from the media about the open letter, including Saad Eddin Ibrahim, Radwan Masmoudi, Michele Dunne, Larry Diamond, Geneive Abdo, and others.
Open Letter

March 10, 2009

President Barack Hussein Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

First of all, congratulations on your victory in November. Like so many others throughout the world, we find ourselves both hopeful and inspired. Your election is proof of America's continued promise as a land of opportunity, equality, and freedom. Your presidency presents a historic opportunity to chart a new course in foreign affairs, and particularly in the troubled relationship between the United States and the Muslim world.

We are heartened by your promise to listen to and understand the hopes and aspirations of Arabs and Muslims. By shutting down Guantanamo Bay and forbidding torture, your administration will inspire greater confidence between the United States and the Muslim world. Last month, in your first major interview, millions of Arabs heard your call for mutual respect on one of the Middle East's most watched television channels. They were encouraged to find that you hold a resolution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict as an urgent priority, as evidenced by the appointment of Senator George Mitchell as your envoy. Reaching out to the people of the region so early on in your presidency is a step of no small significance. But it is a step that must be followed by concrete policy changes.

Improving relations between the United States and Middle Eastern nations is not simply a matter of changing some policies here and there. For too long, U.S. policy toward the Middle East has been fundamentally misguided. The United States, for half a century, has frequently supported repressive regimes that routinely violate human rights, and that torture and imprison those who dare criticize them and prevent their citizens from participation in peaceful civic and political activities. U.S. support for Arab autocrats was supposed to serve U.S. national interests and regional stability. In reality, it produced a region increasingly tormented by rampant corruption, extremism, and instability.

In his second inaugural address, President Bush pledged that the United States would no longer support tyrants and would stand with those activists and reformers fighting for democratic change. The Bush administration, however, quickly turned its back on Middle East democracy after Islamist parties performed well in elections throughout the region. This not only hurt the credibility of the United States, dismayed democrats and emboldened extremists in the region, but also sent a powerful message to autocrats that they could reassert their power and crush the opposition with impunity.

In order to rebuild relations of mutual respect, it is critical that the United States be on the right side of history regarding the human, civil, and political rights of the peoples of the Middle East. There is no doubt that the people of the Middle East long for greater freedom and democracy; they have proven themselves willing to fight for it. What they need from your administration is a commitment to encourage political reform not through wars, threats, or imposition, but through peaceful policies that reward governments that take active and measurable steps towards genuine democratic reforms. Moreover, the US should not hesitate to speak out in condemnation when opposition activists are unjustly imprisoned in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, or elsewhere. When necessary, the United States should use its considerable economic and diplomatic leverage to put pressure on its allies in the region when they fail to meet basic standards of human rights.

We recognize that taking these steps will present both difficulties and dilemmas.

Accordingly, bold action is needed today more than ever. For too long, American policy in the Middle East has been paralyzed by fear of Islamist parties coming to power. Some of these fears are both legitimate and understandable; many Islamists advocate illiberal policies. They need to do more to demonstrate their commitment to the rights of women and religious minorities, and their willingness to tolerate dissent. However, most mainstream Islamist groups in the region are nonviolent and respect the democratic process.

In many countries, including Turkey, Indonesia, and Morocco, the right to participate in reasonably credible and open elections has moderated Islamist parties and enhanced their commitment to democratic norms. We may not agree with what they have to say, but if we wish to both preach and practice democracy, it is simply impossible to exclude the largest opposition groups in the region from the democratic process. At the same time, to reduce the future of the region to a contest between Islamists and authoritarian regimes would be a mistake. Promoting democratic openings in the region will give liberal and secular parties a chance to establish themselves and communicate their ideas to the populace after decades of repression which left them weak and marginalized. More competition between parties of diverse ideological backgrounds would be healthy for political development in the region.

In short, we have an unprecedented opportunity to send a clear message to the Arab and Muslim world: the United States will support all those who strive for freedom, democracy, and human rights. You, Mr. President, have recently relayed such a message in your inaugural address when you said: "To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist."

We are fully aware that, with a worsening global economic crisis, and continuing challenges in Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, political reform and progress toward democratic reform in the Middle East will need to compete with a whole host of other priorities on your agenda. Policy is often about making difficult choices. However, as you work on other Middle East priorities, we urge you to elevate democratic reform and respect for human rights as key considerations in your engagement with both Arab regimes and Arab publics.

In conclusion, we are writing this letter to raise our profound belief that supporting democrats and democracy in the Middle East is not only in the region's interests, but in the United States' as well. Perhaps more importantly, what we choose to do with this critical issue will reveal a great deal about the strength of American democratic ideals in this new era - and whether or not we will decide to respect and apply them in the Middle East.

Signatures: 144 (97 from the US, 47 from overseas)

Coordination Committee:

Radwan A. Masmoudi,Center for the Study of Islam & Democracy
Shadi Hamid, Project on Middle East Democracy
Geneive Abdo, The Century Foundation
Larry Diamond, Ctr. on Democracy, Dev. & Rule of Law, Stanford University
Michele Dunne, Carnegie Endowment for Int. Peace
Jennifer Windsor,Freedom House American Scholars, Experts & Organizations:
Tamara Cofman Wittes, Saban Center, Brookings Institution
Francis Fukuyama, The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies
Matt Yglesias,Center for American Progress
Mona Yacoubian,U.S. Institute of Peace
John L. Esposito, Georgetown University
Reza Aslan, UC Riverside
Morton H. Halperin, Formerly Office of Policy Planning, Department of State
Will Marshall, Progressive Policy Institute
Randa Slim, Rockefeller Brothers Fund
Neil Hicks, Human Rights First
Joe Stork, Human Rights Watch
Robert R. LaGamma, Council for a Community of Democracies
Jack DuVall , Int. Center on Nonviolent Conflict
Robert A. Pastor, Center for Democracy and Election Management, American University
Jean Bethke Elshtain, University of Chicago
Peter Beinart, Council on Foreign Relations
Bob Edgar, Common Cause
Rachel Kleinfeld ,Truman National Security Project
Robert Kagan, Carnegie Endowment for Int. Peace
Dokhi Fassihian, Democracy Coalition Project
Dina Guirguis, Voices for a Democratic Egypt
Andrew Albertson, Project on Middle East Democracy
Nathan J. Brown,George Washington University
Marc Gopin,Ctr for World Religions, Diplomacy, & Conflict Resolution, GMU
Graham E. Fuller, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver BC.
Rabbi Michael Lerner, Network of Spiritual Progressives
Farid Senzai, Institute for Social Policy and Understanding
Frank Kaufmann, Inter Religious Federation for World Peace
Ammar Abdulhamid, Tharwa Foundation
Arsalan Iftikhar, Islamica Magazine
Richard Bulliet, Columbia University
Seth Green, Americans for Informed Democracy
Joseph Montville, Toward the Abrahamic Family Reunion
Joseph K. Grieboski, Institute on Religion and Public Policy
Jim Arkedis, Progressive Policy Institute
Asma Afsaruddin, University of Notre Dame
Anisa Mehdi, Arab-American Journalist
Mohammed Ayoob, Michigan State University
Peter Mandaville ,Center for Global Studies, GMU
Omid Safi, University of North Carolina
Sulayman S. Nyang, Howard University
Naiem A. Sherbiny, Ibn Khaldun Ctr. for Development
Louay Safi, ISNA Leadership Development Ctr.
Najib Ghadbian, University of Arkansas
Aly R. Abuzaakouk, Libya Human and Political Dev. Forum
Robert D. Crane,The Abraham Federation
Sally Painter,Global Fairness Initiative
Steven Brooke, Independent Academic
Sheila Musaji, The American Muslim
Hashim El-Tinay, International Peace Quest Inst.
Antony T. Sullivan, Near East Support Services
Clement Moore Henry, Dept. of Government, U of Texas at Austin
Ahmed Subhy Mansour, The International Quranic Center
Yvonne Haddad, Georgetown University
Shahed Amanullah, altmuslim.com
Hakan Yavuz,The University of Utah
Ibrahim Kalin, Georgetown University
Mumtaz Ahmad, Hampton University
Charles Butterworth, University of Maryland
John P. Enteli, Fordham University
Nahyan Fancy, DePauw University
Jeffrey T. Kenney, DePauw University
Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Minaret of Freedom Institute
Jamal Barzinji , International Institute of Islamic Thought
H. Ali Yurtsever, Rumi Forum
Abubaker al Shingieti, American Muslims for Constructive Engagement
Nayereh Tohidi, California State University, Northridge
Nancy Gallagher, University of California, Santa Barbara
Safei Hamed, Alliance of Egyptian Americans
Ali Akbar Mahdi, Ohio Wesleyan University
Nader Hashemi, University of Denver
Timothy Samuel Shah, Council on Foreign Relations
Sondra Hale, Islamic Studies, UCLA
Lester Kurtz, George Mason University
Mehrdad Mashayekhi, Georgetown University
Fatemeh Haghighatjoo, University of Massachusetts, Boston
Salah Aziz, American Society for Kurds
Ali Banuazizi,Boston College
Mehrangiz Kar, Harvard University Human Rights Program
Tamara Sonn, College of William & Mary
Salam Al-Marayati, Muslim Public Affairs Council
Stephen Zunes, University of San Francisco
Mike Ghouse, World Muslim Congress
David A. Smith, University of California, Irvine
Ziad K. Abdelnour, US Committee for a Free Lebanon
Samer Libdeh, Center for Liberty in the Middle East
Javed Ali, Illume Magazine
Selahattin Oz, Georgetown University
Amin Mahmoud, The Alliance of Egyptian Americans
Maher Kharma, Islamic Society of Annapolis

International Scholars & Organizations:'

Saad Eddin Ibrahim, Ibn Khaldoun Center
Anwar Ibrahim, People's Justice Party, Malaysia
Emad El-Din Shahin, Dept. of Government, Harvard University
Radwan Ziadeh, Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Harvard Univ.
Atef Saadawy, Al-Ahram Democracy Review
Obaida Fares, Arab Foundation for Development and Citizenship
Mona Eltahawy, Commentator and public speaker, Egypt
Usman Bugaje, Action Congress, Abuja, Nigeria
Dogu Ergil, Ankara University, Turkey
Mohamed Elshinnawi, Journalist/Consultant
Mohammad Fadel, University of Toronto Faculty of Law
Jamal Eddine Ryane, Global Migration and Gender Network, Amsterdam
Najah Kadhim, International Forum for Islamic Dialogue-London-UK
Maajid Nawaz, The Quilliam Foundation, London, UK
Sameer Jarrah, Arab World Center for Democratic Development, Jordan
Ihsan Dagi, Insight Turkey
Santanina T. Rasul,Former Senator, The Philippines
Can Kurd, Kurdish PEN Club / Germany
Muna AbuSulayman, UNDP Goodwill Ambassador in KSA
Saoud El Mawla, The Islamic Council for Dialogue, Justice and Democracy, Lebanon
Amina Rasul-Bernardo, The Philippines Council on Islam & Democracy
Sayyed Nadeem Kazmi, The britslampartnership Ltd, UK
Muhammad Habash, Islamic Studies Center, Damascus, Syria
Boudjema Ghechir, Algerian League for Human Rights
Kais Jawad al-Azzawi, Al-Jareeda Newspaper, Baghdad, Iraq
Rola Dashti, Kuwait Economic Society
Zainah Anwar, Sisters in Islam, Malaysia
Jafar M. Alshayeb, Writer and Advocate, Saudi Arabia
Daoud Casewit, American Islamic Scholar, Morocco
Anwar N. Haddam, Mvt. for Liberty & Social Justice, Algeria
Ashur Shamis, Libya Human and Political Dev. Forum
Hamdi Abdelaziz, Journalist & Human Rights Activist, Egypt
Dalia Ziada, The American Islamic Congress, Cairo, Egypt
Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, Dept. of Political Science, United Arab Emirates
Wajeeha S. Al- Baharna, Bahrain Women Association for Human Development
Abdullahi Mohamoud Nur, Community Empowerment for Peace Somalia
Brendan Simms,The Henry Jackson Society: Project for Democratic Geopolitics, London,
Alan Mendoza,The Henry Jackson Society: Project for Democratic Geopolitics,
Ashraf Tulty, Justice & democracy for Libya
Hadi Shalluf, International Criminal Court, Paris
Aref Abu-Rabia, Fulbright Scholar
Omar Affifi, Hukuk Elnas
Jacqueline Armijo, Zayed University, United Arab Emirates
Sliman Bouchuiguir, Libyan League for Human Rights
Mohammed Mahfud, Al-Kalima Magazine, Saudi Arabia
Walid Salem, Panorama, East Jerusalem

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quraan burning

Planned Muslim Response to Qur'an Burning by Pastor Jones on September 11 in Mulberry, Florida

August 19, 2013| Dallas, Texas

Mike Ghouse
Text/Talk: (214) 325-1916

Mirza A Beg
(205) 454-8797



We as Muslims plan to respond to pastor Terry Jones' planned burning of 3000 copies of Quran on September 11, 2013 in positive terms.

Our response - we will reclaim the standard of behavior practiced by the Prophet concerning “scurrilous and hostile criticism of the Qur’an” (Muhammad Asad Translation Note 31, verse 41:34). It was "To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil." It is also strongly enjoined in the Qur’an in the same verse 41:34, “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.”

God willing Muslims will follow the divine guidance and pray for the restoration of Goodwill, and on that day many Muslim organizations will go on a “blood drive” to save lives and serve humanity with kindness.

We invite fellow Americans of all faiths, races, and ethnicities to join us to rededicate the pledge, “One nation under God”, and to build a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of fellow Americans. This event is a substitute for our 10th Annual Unity Day Celebration (www.UnitydayUSA.com) held in Dallas, but now it will be at Mulberry, Florida.

Unwittingly Pastor Jones has done us a favor by invigorating us by his decision to burn nearly 3000 copies Quran on September 11, 2013. Obviously he is not satisfied by the notoriety he garnered by burning one Qur'an last year.

As Muslims and citizens we honor the free speech guaranteed in our constitution. We have no intentions to criticize, condemn or oppose Pastor Terry Jones' freedom of expression. Instead, we will be donating blood and praying for goodness to permeate in our society.

We plan to follow Jesus Christ (pbuh), a revered prophet in Islam as well as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – that of mitigating the conflicts and nurturing good will for the common good of the society.

We hope, this event and the message will remind Muslims elsewhere in the world as well, that violence is not the way. Muslims, who react violently to senseless provocation, should realize that, violence causes more violence, and besmirches the name of the religion that we hold so dear. We believe that Prophet Muhammad was a mercy to the mankind, and we ought to practice what we believe and preach. We must not insult Islam by the negative reactions of a few.

We can only hope it will bring about a change in the attitude of the followers of Pastor Jones, and in the behavior of those Muslims who reacted violently the last time Pastor sought notoriety – We hope this small step towards a bridge to peaceful coexistence would propel us towards building a cohesive society.

Like most Americans a majority of Muslims quietly go about their own business, but it is time to speak up and take positive action instead of negative reaction. May this message of peace and goodwill reverberate and reach many shores.

Lastly, we appreciate the Citizens of Mulberry, Florida, Honorable Mayor George Hatch, City Commissioners, police and Fire Chiefs for handing this situation very well. This will add a ‘feather of peace’ in the City’s reputation. We hope Mulberry will be a catalyst in showing the way in handling conflict with dignity and peace.

We thank the Media for giving value to the work towards peace rather than conflict.

URL- http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2013/08/planned-muslim-response-to-quran_18.html

Thank you.


The people in Dallas are making an effort to understand and clean their own hearts first, when we are free from bias, it would be easy to share that with others. Islam teaches us in so many ways to "respect the otherness of others" and it is time we find simple practical ways of doing it.