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Obama's Speech in Egypt Must Highlight the Plight of Reformers and the Threat of Islamism


On the eve of President Obama's long awaited "Muslim Speech", it is imperative that all freedom-loving Muslims join us in our call upon the Obama administration to take advantage of the unique opportunity it has today to stand up for the universal ideals of human rights in a land where such ideals are oppressed. Speaking from Egypt which remains a backdrop of authoritarian rule that has suffocated dissent and reform, President Obama must address the two-fold cancer which plagues reform and modernization in the so-called "Muslim world." That cancer is Arab secular fascism (i.e. the Mubarak regime) and radical Islamism (i.e. the Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Azhar University). For President Obama to avoid these two major cancers which ultimately fuel terrorism is to avoid one of his responsibilities as leader of the free world.

Terrorism is just a tactic. We are continually threatened by an enemy which cannot be defeated on the battlefield alone, but must be combated in a contest of ideas. We must marginalize and defeat the ideas of political Islam which ultimately drive the dreams of militant Islamists. Egypt is the birthplace of the Muslim Brotherhood and thus modern day political Islam which gave rise to hundreds of splinter groups of radical Islam throughout the world. Egypt is one of the primary frontlines in this global contest of ideas. To speak in Egypt and avoid the topics of political Islam, radical Islamism, and the Muslim Brotherhood, will be like visiting Moscow in the height of the Cold War and avoiding any mention of the inhumanities of communism and its incompatibility with liberty.

I am looking to the long awaited speech by President Obama to hear the President remind Egyptians and all of the world's Muslims in the 'so-called' Muslim world of the following:

•America calls upon Egypt and all "Muslim" nations to free all dissidents who are imprisoned or oppressed for their ideas, including -- but not limited to -- bloggers, journalists and all liberal thinkers.

•Muslim reforms must recognize the rights and freedoms of all minorities equally and must begin the move toward the separation of mosque and state. Many non-Muslims live in the so-called "Muslim world" and deserve equal treatment under the law and deserve complete religious freedom. Thus, the Muslim world is in reality not the "Muslim" world. It is for all faiths.

•Al-Azhar University in Cairo is a primary example of an Islamist institution which is one of the world's primary sources of supremacist Islamist and salafist ideology. It is imperative that the United States openly expose the perils of political Islam taught and metastasized around the world from that institution and others like it. We hope and pray that the President is similarly addressing the pathologies and medieval nature of Wahhabist ideologies in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during his visit there today.

•The states of the OIC (Organization of Islamic Conference) must abandon the Cairo Declaration of Human rights and sign the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights.

•The Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists have a goal of establishing Islamic states and imposing shar'ia law. This is not compatible with universal human rights and individual freedoms and must be addressed openly and critically.

•President Obama should announce a counter-project against the Muslim Brotherhood Project of Islamizing the west which would bring the long awaited anti-theocratic ideals of western freedom to the Middle East.

•Our enemy's enemies will no longer simply be our friends with no questions asked. Our real friends must first share our humanitarian ideals of universal liberty and demonstrate a genuine and rapid course toward liberalizing their society for all citizens. The days of hypocrisy are gone where America turns a blind eye to the injustices done by governments in the name of Islam because of a fear of retaliation, political correctness, or oil prices.

•We will begin to lift up equal rights for women and minorities in every nation and help all courageous leaders of next generations.

•The security of all free-minded nations and their citizens demands that our greatest minds, strongest personalities, and world leaders come together and counter the daily dose of despotism, tribalism, corruption, conspiracy theories, anti-Americanism, anti-Westernism and political Islam which has become a staple for so much of the "Muslim" media. Let there be a contest of ideas -- not one dominated by state run or Islamist-run media.

In January I wrote a hypothetical speech for President Obama to give to the Muslim World. The full text of it is available online at this link. I will listen anxiously awaiting the President's recognition of these core values.

M. Zuhdi Jasser is the founder and President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, based in Phoenix, Arizona. He can be reached at zuhdi@aifdemocracy.org