Publications & Statements by Imam

11/11/08: Obama must repair relations to reassure Muslim nations

Detroit News- Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Obama must repair relations to reassure Muslim nations

Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi

Last Tuesday was a happy day for most of America and the world. The citizens of this blessed land successfully passed a great test of maturity and celebrated the beginning of, I hope, a new era of peace, prosperity and justice for all. The election of Barack Hussein Obama as the 44th president of United States was a victory of hope over hate, reason over race and consciousness over ignorance.

Obama was only 2 in August 1963 when Martin Luther King Jr. said, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." Part of King's dream came true on our new version of Super Tuesday.

The storm of vicious campaign ads and Internet rumors didn't stop the majority of the voters from rushing to the polls and calling for the "change we need." Every missile was used to assassinate the character of this charismatic leader. He was called Marxist, socialist, terrorist and elitist. The Rev. Jeremiah Wright's sermons were twisted to question Obama's love for this beautiful land.

We used to think the disease of Islamophobia targeted only Muslim Americans, but the "Don't trust Obama, he is an Arab" campaign revealed that the non-Arab and non-Muslim Obama is not immune from this conspiracy either. Thank God we have honorable Colin Powell to say, "So what if Obama actually was a Muslim?"

Obama must fix not only the economic crisis, jobs, health care and education, but also America's international image, which was severely damaged during the Bush administration.

The floods of congratulatory messages from all over the world, even from Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to our president-elect display an urgent hope that Obama re-establishes respect for our Constitution and the Geneva Conventions, closes the Guantanamo prison, ends controversial wire-tapping and makes America an inspiring source of democracy, freedom and human rights in the world.

It's also time to develop a new direction for U.S. relations with the Islamic world. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and 33 other American military, political, religious, education and business leaders recently released a 105-page Global Leadership study, which recommends that the new administration approach its relations with the worldwide Muslim community with diplomacy and respect. It emphasizes the resumption of relations between United State and the Islamic Republic of Iran to explore the potential for agreements regarding regional peace and security.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni says, "President-elect Barack Obama shouldn't be talking to Iran," but the report urges that America must remove the perception that its strategy is domination over the Middle East and that its focus is only on Israel and oil.

American Muslim community engagement is vital for the success of this new strategy of diplomacy and engagement. Let's pray Obama uses his unique national and international capital to make the changes he promised.

Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi heads the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights. Please send letters to The Detroit News, Letters, 615 W. Lafayette, Detroit, MI 48226 or (313) 222-6417 or letters@detnews.com