News / USA

Muslim American Congressman Hails Egyptian Protests as Rebuke to al-Qaida

Congressman Keith Ellison
Congressman Keith Ellison

Multimedia

Cindy Saine

Muslim American U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison has hailed the protests that began in Tunisia and spread to Egypt and are now radiating out to a whole list of countries.  Ellison praises President Obama for his handling of the crisis in Egypt, and says the United States must continue to be on the right side of history.

Congressman Keith Ellison says the Egyptian protesters have delivered a stunning and stiff rebuke to al-Qaida and religious extremism.  He said al-Qaida leaders have long made false claims that America is at war with Islam, and that violence is the way to attain political goals.

"They also say that the only way to achieve change is through violence and terrorism and murder," said Ellison. "Well the people in Tahrir Square showed that if you stick, and you stay, and you stand up for what you believe in, that you will be successful and you don’t have to harm anybody to do it."

Ellison said the Egyptian protesters refused to be provoked into responding to violence from pro-government thugs, although some were beaten, jailed and even killed.  The Democratic lawmaker from Minnesota said the credit for Hosni Mubarak’s resignation belongs to the people of Egypt.  But he says he is also proud of President Barack Obama for laying out universal principles in his Cairo speech two years ago.

"But I am proud of a few things, one is that President Obama, a couple of years before this revolution made comments in Cairo which were nothing short of prescient" said Ellison. "[He was] talking about people’s desire to have a voice in their own governance, freedom of expression, freedom of inquiry, freedom of faith."

Some Republican lawmakers, such as House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, have accused the Obama administration of having a rollercoaster policy on Egypt.

"First it was negotiate with the opposition, then it was orderly transition," said Ros-Lehtinen.

Ellison said the president was right to be cautious in the beginning and was phenomenal in making clear where Washington stood in the end.

Ellison also said concerns expressed by some Republican lawmakers about the prospect of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood group playing too big of a role  in the transition are “overblown.”

‘My view is that the Muslim brotherhood is a part of the fabric of Egyptian society," he said. "Democracy means that we don’t get to decide who runs that country, the people of that country decide that.  The Muslim  brotherhood, by the way, has never polled at more than 22 percent.  The population is really not calling for more religion, they are calling for bread, peace, freedom and dignity.

Ellison said as protests for democracy spread to Iran and to a number of Arab-speaking countries, the United States should take note of which countries allow for peaceful freedom of expression.

"And I hope the United States gets on the right side of history," said Ellison. "I believe we should reorder our priorities in the Middle East, and things like human rights and development and diplomacy ought to be our primary tools, and things like guns, bombs and warfare ought to be used as a last resort.”

At a news conference Tuesday, President Obama drew a contrast between the protests in Egypt and the protests in Iran, which have been violently put down by the government.  The president said the United States is sending a strong message to its allies in the region that they should look to Egypt’s example and not Iran’s.

You May Like

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan

Ninety percent of world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan More

Here's Your Chance to Live in a Deserted Shopping Mall

About one-third of the 1200 enclosed malls in the US are dead or dying. Here's what's being done with them. More

Video NASA: Big Antarctica Ice Shelf Is Disintegrating

US space agency’s new study indicates Larsen B shelf could break up in just a few years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriagei
X
May 21, 2015 4:14 AM
The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.
Video

Video Women to March for Peace Between Koreas

Prominent female activists from around the world plan to march through the demilitarized zone dividing North and South Korea to call for peace between the two neighbors, divided for more than 60 years. The event, taking place May 24, marks the International Women's Day for Peace and Disarmament and has been approved by both Koreas. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan Following Record High Poppy Crops

Afghanistan has seen record high poppy crops during the last few years - and the result has been an alarming rise in illegal drug use and addiction in the war-torn country. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem has this report from Kabul.
Video

Video America’s Front Lawn Gets Overhaul

America’s front yard is getting a much-needed overhaul. Almost two kilometers of lawn stretch from the U.S. Capitol to the Washington Monument. But the expanse of grass known as the National Mall has taken a beating over the years. Now workers are in the middle of restoring the lush, green carpet that fronts some of Washington’s best-known sights. VOA’s Steve Baragona took a look.

VOA Blogs