Friday, February 4, 2011

An Open Letter to President Obama

Mr. President:

There can be no doubt that I owe you an apology. It was just yesterday that my perception of your vacillating inaction made me confirm the position the Reverend Jeremiah Wright that you were a mere politician of American Realpolitik. It is as a man, and an imperfect servant of The One True and Living God, that I seek your forgiveness. Although, admittedly, I do so with the knowledge that tomorrow may cause me to be angry with you again. In many ways as I suffer under the mistaken policies of the previous Administration, I forget the enormity of your duty and the tasks of being President of the United States of America. With respect, I believe that your extremely effective presentation as a man of principle during the campaign juxtaposed to the pragmatism practiced as the Chief Executive of the Nation has left me bewildered, perplexed, and simply confused. It is simple for the common citizen to second-guess, to shout CHARGE or Damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead; for the average citizen need not worry how such actions will further plunge the economy into its Great Decession or upset the balance on the international stage. Moreover, as one of your supporters from the very beginning, I forget that it was your obviously great capacity at rational and critical thought that made me vote for you in the first place. And yet, you will need to forgive me, as I remind you that listening to the common man’s critique and voice is part of your required job duties. Therefore, listen, I pray you.

There are hundreds of millions of moderate Islamic Nationalist, or Islamists (a term I despise) who are most ardently willing to engage, build just and equal partnerships, and otherwise work in concert with Western governments, including the United States of America, to achieve God’s Social Justice for human beings on this earth. To my pleasant surprise, you have distanced yourself from Mr. Mubarak. It appears that the reason for and audacity of hope is very much alive; and this signifies one of your central principles. Now is the time to support Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik to lead the democratic transition in Egypt, under the caveat that he recuse himself from the candidacy of the Office of the Egyptian Presidency and return to his duties as Prime Minister should the President-Elect of Egypt allow. Furthermore, as the transitional-head of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Mr. Shafik’s first initiative should be the calling of a new draft of the Egyptian Constitution. In my opinion as an American Muslim, Islamic Nationalist, the New Egyptian Constitution must include the Fifteen Rights Guaranteed by The One True and Living God and His messenger, Muhammad (SAAW). Among these:

             (1)   The right to life and the minimum necessary to sustain it; (2) The right to family; (3) The right to housing; (4) The right to education; (5) The right to work; (6) The right to justice; (7) The right to solidarity; (8) The right to free speech and assembly; (9) The right to free press and media; (10) The right to vote; (11) The right to the citizen to petition and criticize his government, without fear of retaliation or reprisal; (12) The right to privacy; (13) The right to individual ownership of property; (14) The right of women to exercise all of these rights, as the Natural equals to men, except in areas specifically Limited by The One True and Living God and His messenger(SAAW); (15) In accordance with The Laws of The Holy Qur’an and the Sunna of the prophet Muhammad(SAAW), the right of the free exercise of one’s conscience in religion and creed, and the protection of religious minorities and their human rights.

Referendum on the Constitution would need to come prior to General Elections. In the final analysis, you as the man who called upon us to become the Joshua Generation must use the power of your Office to institute two policy initiatives written by the Director of Research, Brookings Doha Center Fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, Shadi Hamid. Mr. Hamid writes that the United States should:

Publicly affirm the right of all opposition actors, including Islamists, to participate in upcoming elections. The Obama administration should begin by clarifying U.S. policy toward political Islam by clearly affirming the right of all nonviolent political groups to participate in the electoral process. This should be coupled by a consistent American policy of opposing not just the arrests of secular activists but Islamist ones as well. By treating both groups equally, the United States can counter the (largely accurate) claim that its support for Arab democrats is selective. In Jordan, the United States should pressure the government to immediately reach out to opposition groups and issue guarantees regarding the conduct of the November elections…[and secondly] Empower U.S. embassies to begin substantive engagement with Islamist groups. The Obama administration has emphasized its belief in engaging a diverse range of actors. Yet it has failed to reach out to many of the largest, most influential groups in the region. As Islamist groups work to reassess their strategy and resolve internal divisions, American officials need to be aware of how such developments might affect broader regional interests. At a later stage, open channels of dialogue may allow the United States some influence over strategies Islamists adopt, particularly regarding participation in elections.   

As a man, a Muslim, you answered your call to become a member of the Joshua Generation, I simply ask you to lead us to this end-that of peace, reconciliation, cooperation, and Social Justice.

Isma’il ibn Bilal 

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