Thursday, March 5, 2009

Obama urged to promote democracy

March 6, 2009

CONTACT: Radwan Masmoudi, 202-251-3036,
Shadi Hamid, 202-470-2509,

Bi-Partisan Group of Prominent Scholars and Experts Urge President Obama to Make Democracy in the Middle East a Top Priority

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

Washington, DC - March 6, 2009 - More than 80 scholars and experts-including Egyptian democracy activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim and former deputy prime minister of Malaysia Anwar Ibrahim -are urging President Obama to adopt a consistent and credible policy that supports democracy in the Arab and Muslim world. The group will formally issue an open letter to the president at a news conference Tuesday, March 10, at 2:30 p.m. at the National Press Club in Washington.

"For decades, the United States and Europe have been coddling and supporting dictators in the Arab world, and this has been disastrous for the region and for U.S.-Islamic relations," said Radwan Masmoudi, president of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy and a co-convener of the letter. The letter states that for decades the United States has "supported repressive regimes that routinely violate human rights, and that torture and imprison those who dare criticize them."

The signatories call on the administration to make supporting democracy and its proponents in the Middle East a top foreign policy priority, even in countries that are U.S. allies such as Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. The authors call on the United States to "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."

"Because of its association with the Bush administration, there is a temptation to move away from any discussion of democracy promotion in the Middle East. That would be a mistake," said Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Project on Middle East Democracy and a letter co-convener. The letter lauds the President's initial efforts to reach out to the Arab and Muslim world, but cautions that the U.S. must demonstrate its commitment to democratic reform through actual policy changes.

The letter demonstrates strong support across the ideological spectrum for a renewed commitment to supporting democratic reform in the region, and for supporting the political inclusion of moderate Islamist groups. Among the more than 80 signatories are: Francis Fukuyama of Johns Hopkins University; Morton Halperin, former director of policy planning at the State Department; Jennifer Windsor, executive director of Freedom House; Peter Beinart, contributing editor at The New Republic; Georgetown Professor John L. Esposito, and democracy expert Larry Diamond of Stanford University; author and blogger Matt Yglesias, and Robert Kagan of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Several of the co-signers will be available during the news conference to answer questions from the media about the policy recommendations included in the open letter, including Saad Eddin Ibrahim, Radwan Masmoudi, Jennifer Windsor, Larry Diamond, Geneive Abdo, and others.

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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 ( 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.


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.