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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Obama's Cairo Speech Through the Lens of Islamists

by Sid Shahid

Tue, 9 Jun 2009 at 12:23 PM

President Obama's speech in Cairo to the so-called Muslim world has Islamist organizations fawning about the "new beginning" of relations with Muslims globally. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which was an unindicted co-conspirator in the HLF terror trial and was recently wholly rejected by the FBI, issued a statement calling the speech "comprehensive, balanced, and forthright." This was not to be outdone by the like-minded Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), which lauded the speech as a "foundation for mutual recognition and positive engagement."

Here, locally in Phoenix, the reaction was predictably similar but more troubling. A prominent Islamist, Marwan Ahmad, publisher of the pro-Hamas newspaper Muslim Voice and original founder of the local CAIR chapter in Arizona, stated to the Arizona Republic: "This is the first time I felt proud of being an American Muslim. I felt really proud, actually."

Interestingly, this is a remarkably candid comment when compared to a previous statement which was obviously a part of Islamist dissimulation: "The day I passed the test and became an American citizen is one of the proudest days of my life." So which is it, Mr. Ahmad?

Ahmad also had the revealing temerity to apparently condone violence and chastise President Obama for openly calling on Palestinians to abandon violent resistance, stating: "They want us to take the Martin Luther King example and the example of other peaceful leaders, yet [in response to the terrorist attacks], America has launched all these wars around the world. That doesn't add up."

These reactions of Islamists speak volumes to the unchanging ideological lens they use in reviewing American foreign and domestic policy. In Mr. Ahmad's case, his pride in being an American Muslim despite decades of residence on our soil came only now as an epiphany after a single speech. Words, not America, gave Ahmad pride. Simple words of appeasement given by our president on foreign soil over 7,000 miles away and hosted by the despotic Egyptian regime made all the difference to his Islamist mindset.

The truth is that Mr. Ahmad should have felt proud to be an American Muslim at the first moment he published his Islamist and frequently anti-American newspaper and exercised his freedom of expression guaranteed to him by the U.S. Constitution.

Only after the despotic governments of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, who are blind and intransigent to political and religious reform, expressed pleasure and approval of our president have our local domestic Islamist groups become jubilant. Are the reformers in Egypt or the oppressed minorities of the "Muslim world" jubilant? No one knows because their voices cannot be heard.

Although President Obama must be given credit for mentioning reform, women's rights, and minority rights, he obviously could have and should have said much more, specifically naming reformers and the real obstacles (i.e., Islamism) to the changes he cited as necessary. No such critique can be heard from Islamists in America, who would rather bask in the glow of appeasement of their motherlands than recognize a lifetime of pride in American values.

The Islamist lens is all about protecting, legitimizing, and validating the agenda of political Islam and not about protecting, legitimizing, or validating all that is America.

Sid Shahid is the director of research and publications for the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD). He can be reached at

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