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Open Letter
to President Bush

by Sheikh Safar Al-Hawali (Arabian Peninsula)

 

15 October, 2001

Mr. President:

I am writing this letter to you in hope that it will be taken into account
without regard to the faith of its writer, or the color of his skin, and despite
your new division of the children of Adam into the civilized who support all
your views, and the barbarians who do not.

Perhaps this letter is strange to you, as I write to you as one of the heirs
of the prophets, and the prophets, as we know, used to address the tyrants of
the earth in the hope that they might repent and fear the Lord of all the
worlds. Thus did Moses �peace be upon him- address Pharaoh, Haman, and Karun,
and thus did Jesus �peace be upon him- address the Romans and the High Priest of
the Jews, and thus did Muhammad -peace and blessings be upon him- address Abu
Jahl in Makkah, as well as the Roman Emperor Heraclius and the Persian Emperor
Khosraw. It is not necessary for the recipient to listen to or acknowledge the
messenger, but it is merely his duty to convey the message.

I write to you as a member of an oppressed and persecuted community in a
condition like that of Jesus when he was persecuted by the Jews on one side, and
Romans on the other side. It is regrettable that the United States, a nation
founded by immigrants fleeing persecution, has taken for itself the position of
the Roman Empire which persecuted the followers of Christ �peace be upon him-
and colluded� with the enemies of faith (the unbelievers of the children of
Israel) to slay the prophets and messengers, and to slay their followers in all
times and places. At that time the Roman Empire claimed to be the symbol of
freedom and civilized values, just as you claimed referred to America in your
first statement after the incidents of September 11.It was the greatest world
power of its day, the heir of Greek civilization. It had a Senate and a fa�ade
of democracy. The Roman citizen had freedom of religion and personal behavior.
All this made it superior to other Empires throughout the world, and yet history
does not speak well of this Empire because of the repulsive crime with which it
stained its reputation: the persecution of the Christians. For this reason that
Great Power lost its valuable distinctions when it oppressed a group of
believers in God: Who alone possesses absolute power, absolute might, and
absolute justice, Who is Mighty in His punishment which He withholds for the
oppressor for awhile, but Who one day takes vengeance against him.

Indeed, that is what He did. The Northern Barbarians overpowered Rome and
destroyed it, They burned its cultural symbols and shattered its arrogance at
the beginning of the fifth century of the Christian era. Two centuries later,
God caused the followers of the final Prophet Muhammad �God�s blessing and peace
be upon him- to inherit the Holy Land in which Christ �peace be upon him- had
lived. This was a tremendous victory for Christ since the Islamic Faith which
conquered and liberated most of the known world from despotism and persecution,
and filled it with mercy and justice, manifested for mankind the greatness of
Christ �peace be upon him- and the truth of Christ�s message, as well as the
merit of his disciples and their followers as was revealed in detail in the Holy
Qur�an. The Islamic community considered itself to be the final link in the long
chain of followers of the prophets which began with Abraham, and included Moses
and Jesus �peace be upon them- and declared to all the world that the enemies of
Christ �peace be upon him- are the enemies of freedom and lofty values,
especially the Jews, regardless of whether they denied Christ and incited the
Romans against him, or whether they pretended to follow him so as to distort his
message as did Saul who is called �Paul.� The amazing thing is that the peoples
who tasted the affliction of Roman tyranny and arrogance rejoiced at the
destruction of Rome and wondered at the actions of the �Northern Barbarians� who
did it, despite the fact that they did not know or like them, yet how much more
so would it have been if �for example- Rome had been attacked by the oppressed
Christians? Would anyone have ventured to blame the Christians if they rejoiced
or sympathized with the attackers?

Mr. President, we Muslims are a nation of justice. At the same time our
ethics do not allow us to rejoice over the misfortunes of the afflicted, yet we
would still hope that the United States would review its stand and be more fair,
so that we might once again give the benefit of the doubt to the United States
for which there are precedents that encourage this hope, and which demonstrate
how we used to move two steps towards them for every step of theirs, and a mile
for every move of theirs. When President Wilson announced his fourteen points at
the end of World War I, and especially the right of self-determination of
peoples, it was greeted by the Islamic world as a just position towards European
Colonialism that dominated most of its peoples. The Muslims rejoiced at a voice
from among the Christian nations themselves saying that the time had come for an
end to racial discrimination and crusader campaigns �such as the one led by
General Allenby. Thus, the Islamic peoples hastened to place their complete
trust in this neutral nation (the United States of America) and the United
States profited greatly from this, since besides the moral distinctions it
earned, it also achieved the greatest economic advantages in history. Their
trust was not shaken even by its unjust position concerning the establishment of
the Jewish state and the deprivation of the Palestinian people of their right to
self-determination, but the Islamic peoples clung to their hope that that policy
was simply an error that might be rectified. Similarly, President Eisenhower�s
position towards the three-party aggression against Egypt was one of the biggest
factors that encouraged the continuation of the benefit of the doubt for America
and the refusal to listen to the claims of the communists �which were not
entirely false.

However, the trust in America and its justice was rapidly shaken and then
declined to the ground because of America�s own behavior which came in the form
of one proof after another which permanently refuted the benefit of the
doubt.

Perhaps the first of these absolute proofs was the actions of President Nixon
and his Secretary of State Kissinger during and after the Ramadhan (October) War
of 1973, then your father, President Bush whose duplicity of standards were
obvious to everybody. Iraq violated the same or fewer international agreements
then those that Israel has and continues to violate. Iraq�s excuse in doing so
was similar to those used by America to incorporate Texas into its territory. As
for Israel�s excuse for occupying Palestine, it is worse than the British
justification for keeping America as a British colony, and more repulsive than
your ancestor�s excuse for the genocide of the American Indian!

It is this contradictory position which compelled the Islamic peoples to
attend demonstrations by the millions in support of a dictator whom none of them
had previously liked. Then came President Clinton and his Jewish administration.
He was more concerned than either yourself or your father with finding a
solution for the problem but he followed the same wrong road; describing the
horrible terrorist attack on the Abraham Mosque in Hebron as no more than a
�crime.� You and he both know that up until now there has never been a
Palestinian attack on any Jewish place of worship, and when the terrorist attack
occurred in Cana he was not ashamed to describe it as �an unintentional mistake
done by the Israelis in self-defense,� Yet when Israel was faced with bombings,
he gathered all the World and Arab leaders at the Sharm al-Shaykh conference so
that they could all condemn �terrorism� ignoring the continuous barbaric
massacres and the long chain of tragedies which the Israelis have brought upon
the Palestinians and Arabs, which were not described at all. This caused the
Islamic peoples to dissociate from America in view of the fact that it dictated
to the attendees what Israel wanted, and from their governments in view of the
fact that they yielded to the American administration. They turned with all
their suffering and hopes to the groups described as terrorist without any
concern about that description, since the conference taught them a good lesson
in understanding the terminology of the American double standard: that when
America decides that someone is a terrorist or an extremist it places them in
the position of legendary heroes in the eyes of the oppressed and the wretched
who need some airing after their long defeat and subservience, and as Claes
(former Secretary General of NATO) officially informed them that the alliance
had placed Islam as the focus of its enmity in place of the former Soviet Union.
There is no need for additional practical proofs after this unique title, proofs
which arrive daily from everywhere from the Philippines, Timor, Kashmir, the
Caucasus, the Balkans, Sudan, and many other places �except that what occurred
in Palestine after the defiling of the Aqsa Mosque by the greatest terrorist
criminal of this age: Sharon, outweighed all the others.

It was your misfortune after your difficult election victory to be
contemporaneous with that criminal, and to continue your eternal strategic
alliance with him.

We Muslims desired to see you elected and we have proof that the votes which
gave you victory were our votes, and I personally advised Muslims to vote for
you. Some of them hoped that you would be fairer than the Democrats although
others clearly stated that the matter was no more than choosing the lesser of
two evils. We did not do that out of forgetfulness of the crimes of your party
and your father throughout the Muslim World, but because we are a nation of
justice and reason we held back our feelings and made the choice which we felt
was best for us and for America also. We hoped that you would repay good with
good, but you did the complete opposite by increasing your predecessor�s
material and political support of Zionist terrorism in the form which has
occurred and continues to occur. Bewildered questions were repeated on the lips
of everyone in the Islamic Word: Does the American administration have a
conscience? Does this biased stance which has dismayed the entire world have any
justification and will it ever end? Is America Greater Israel or is Israel
Lesser America?

In the midst of this continuous confusion and frustration, the events of the
11th of September occurred. I will not conceal from you that a tremendous wave
of joy accompanied the shock that was felt by the Muslim in the street and
whoever tells you otherwise is avoiding the truth. It is my opinion that America
which believes in freedom and democracy -as you repeat in your speeches- should
not become upset by this one-time joy, and should not seize upon the Muslim�s
spontaneous outpouring of feeling. This nation, which worships God and believes
in justice more than any nation on earth, did not do that out of racist enmity
or evil intent, but they were joined in this by the entire world: the world that
kicked you out of the Organization for Human Rights. 3000 popular organizations
mobilized against you at the Durban conference. More than forty nations suffer
from your oppressive boycotts and economic penalties, let alone from your
military incursions. Even the environment has identified you before the world as
its greatest enemy.

People�s shock at your first speech was greater than their shock at the event
itself. It totally equated America with freedom, justice and noble values, and
it contained a harsh threat of vengeance rather than a promise of fair
cooperation. We tried to excuse you because of the shock of the events and the
need to absorb popular anger, but all of your statements as well as your actions
have been of the same mode and have severed any other possibility.

Reckless accusations and hasty revenge are the real tragedy for America, and
the true test of its values and civilization. Your security apparatus �which had
boasted that it could catch a fly passing over the Pentagon and that it would no
about a riot among the Eskimos before it occurred- rushed to the nearest flight
school and the nearest hotel and took down the name of every Arab or Muslim
student or resident and announced that they are the terrorists!

Imagine Mr.President, if you were sitting among your family or tribe
thousands of miles away and heard or saw the news that you had been part of a
suicide operation on a plane? or that it was done by your brother who had died a
year ago? Wouldn�t you thank God that you were not a citizen of that civilized
country or a believer in their so-called values and justice? Especially when
your very civilized people answered these calls of yours, your cabinet members,
and your security apparatus and started to attack the barbarian invaders in
every free and civilized part of your country. I and the people of my country
have discovered how barbaric were are when a gang of Westerners �I will not call
them terrorists since they have white skin and blue eyes- performed a series of
explosions in our cities, we watched as they gave their serious confessions, and
yet we made not the smallest move to attack any Western person in any place in
our country, we did not kill them, or strip search them in our airports, nor did
we place them in solitary confinement, let alone incite the whole world to form
an alliance against them. No, we did nothing of that which your civilized people
have done to our children and Muslim brothers in general.

What caused us to behave in this manner is our religion and ethics, for which
gift we thank God. At this point I would like to ask you Mr. President, if the
world chose you to give a prize for the people with the most advanced morals and
values, and the best treatment of others, which of the two peoples would you
give the prize? To your people or to ours?

Does this mean that we bear ill will toward the American people for that we
are racist in our treatment of them? No. Never. We believe that the American
people in general have such good attributes that they are the closest of all
Western peoples to us, and the most deserving of all of them of our desire for
them to achieve good in this life and in the hereafter. They are a people the
majority of whom believe in the existence of God, and who donate to charitable
work more than any other people in the world (and by that we do not mean the
evangelization of the Muslims).

The truest proof of the goodness of the American people is that they have
embraced Islam more quickly and in greater numbers than other peoples of the
world, and have tried to understand it better even after you held the Muslims
responsible for the disaster without evidence.

We desire all good and honor for a people like this from the bottom of our
hearts, and good and honor are only achieved by any people by one of two
things:

1- Embracing God�s Faith which is alone acceptable to Him, the Faith of all
the prophets: Islam. By doing this Allah grants them both the good of this world
and that of the next world.

2- Making peace with the Muslims, loving them, and treating them kindly. By
doing this Allah rewards them security and good in this world.

This Islamic nation, the followers of Abraham and Muhammad �God�s blessing
and peace be upon him- is dearest to God of all nations. Whoever honors them is
honored by God, and whoever despises them is despised by God, though He may
grant them respite for a time. History is a witness to this.

You may say, or others may have said on your behalf, �I have apologized for
using the term �crusade�, I have visited the Islamic Center, and I have advice
the people to control themselves,� but we say, �We are used to America to
inflict deep wounds and then putting a small bandage on them, but your present
attack on Afghanistan has violently removed those bandages and opened a wound in
the heart of every Muslim.

Mr. President, if only when you did what you did, you had avoided the racist
terminology of your speeches about hostile action. It would have been enough for
you to simply claim the right -with no need for justification- treat the world
any way you want, and to punish whomever you want, whenever you want. But then
you had to go on and leave the desire for revenge open without any end in sight
when you said � Today we will concentrate on Afghanistan, but the battle is
wider than that.� Is it not enough for you to destroy a whole nation because of
an unproven accusation against a single person or organization forced to live in
that country? Is this hostility which exceeds all values and morals, and shakes
every living conscience in the world only a drop in the sea of your vengeance?

Did Christ �peace be upon him- grant you that power? Far be it for him to do
that. Even Machiavelli himself does not grant you that degree of power. Your
precedent in this is Samson. Won�t you fear God �you who have made your slogan
to be �God bless America?� How can God bless and protect her when Christ His
Messenger taught exactly the opposite of what you do: �Whoever strikes you on
your right cheek, then turn to him your left cheek. Whoever takes from you your
garment, then give him also your cloak. And whoever mocks you for a mile, go
with him for two miles.�

Do you not understand that when you make the desire for endless vengeance to
be the attribute of the civilized nation, you make Christ �peace be upon him- to
be an uncivilized barbarian? Far be it for him, but you have rejected God and
Christ, and followed the behavior of the Popes of the Middle Ages who used to
grant indulgences and excommunication according to their whims. You have granted
an everlasting pardon to yourselves and to the Zionist State, and to every
hostile tyrant, and you have issued an excommunication for anyone who hesitates
to join your endless hostility by describing them as terrorists or supporters of
terrorism.

You search with microscopes for so-called terrorist groups in Somalia which
has been destroyed by poverty, or in the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon
whose humble dwellings are threatened by Zionist terrorism every day. But you
forget that horrible terrorism tangibly dwells among you. It is you, and nothing
but you. If you do not believe this then tell me by God, if your best friend
comes to congratulate you in ten years on the victory you hope to achieve over
the mysterious enemy you have fabricated, what will he be able to congratulate
you about? Supposing that he says, �Mr. President, we have killed one million
Afghanis, one million Iraqis, one million of this and that,� until the end of
your cursed list, will that be a victory for civilization, lofty values, freedom
and democracy? Certainly among your victims will be starving, naked widows and
children. Will that satisfy your desire for vengeance? Shamelessly, you will use
the fact that they are alive as evidence that you limited yourselves to the
destruction of their mud houses and wooden huts as strategic targets of the
smart bombs of your clean war that do not kill people.

At this point the world that you have made depressed and sad for as long as
God wills, will finally laugh. Yes, they will be forced to laugh by the
civilized joke of the miraculous intelligence of your missiles: When you hit
Iraq, Iran screamed. When you aimed at Afghanistan during your first attack on
that country, you hit Pakistan, and one of your smart missiles infuriated the
Yellow Giant by destroying its embassy in Belgrade. I admit �in all fairness-
the intelligence of at least one of your missiles: the Patriot missile which saw
one of the stupid Scuds which had lost its way, so it knocked it to the right
direction and invited it to dinner with the American intelligence officers in
Khobar.

As for being clean, the whole world bears witness that you fought the
cleanest war but with one simple observation: that although you cleaned out
Hiroshima and Nagasaki, you unintentionally left a little pollution in its
place. Perhaps you will realize your mistake in Afghanistan and its citizens,
and be more generous and paint the sites with a little cheap American paint.

However, for the sake of the truth we should also say that there is little
doubt about the cleanness of your war in Iraq since the witnesses against you
are children, and the law does not accept the witness of children even if they
number in the millions, but the witnesses for your side are adults of the level
of dictators and their generals.

Mr. President, do you think that your list in which you announce the names of
terrorist organizations and the countries that support terrorism will serve your
interests, or will it be further proof that the world is against you? Who is the
advisor who suggested publishing this list at the same time that people
discovered your own house is glass and is still broken? Why do you make enemies
of those who throw stones at you from Japan in the East, to Peru in the West?
During the present dangerous security situation in your country wouldn�t it have
been enough for you to choose one country and one organization? Or do you want
to incite all of them, so that if any one of them performs a terrorist operation
you can hold the Muslims alone responsible so that your Crusade against them can
continue forever?

Mr. President, don�t suppose that I want to recount your few faults and
forget our own (in your eyes) very many faults. No, I will mention to you a
serious fault of us Muslims: we don�t forget our tragedies no matter how much
time has passed. Imagine, Mr. President, we still weep over Andalusia and
remember what Ferdinand and Isabella did there to our religion, culture and
honor! We dream of regaining it. Nor will we forget the destruction of Baghdad,
or the fall of Jerusalem at the hands of your Crusader ancestors. That is, we
are not (in your opinion) at the level of civilization enjoyed by the Germans
and Japanese who support your hostilities and forget your past treatment of
them. Moreover, the African Muslims who embraced Islam after the fall of
Andalusia cry along with the Arabs, just as the Indonesians do who only heard
recently heard about Andalusia. It may be a problem for us, but who will pay the
price after awhile?

Mr.President, your problem with the Afghans �and the Muslims in general- is
that you are stronger than necessary and they are weaker than necessary. Every
time you use excessive force, or are excessive in using it, it proves to be a
weakness in strength. This is a great divine mystery which reminds us of what
happened to the tyrant Pharaoh at the hands of the oppressed children of Israel.
Listen to the story from God�s Holy Scripture:

“Ta Seen Meem. These are the revelations of the manifest scripture. We
recite to you some of the story of Moses and Pharaoh in truth, for a people who
have faith. Pharaoh exalted himself in the land and divided its people into
groups, oppressing one group among them: slaying their sons and sparing their
women. Truly, he was one of the tyrants. We desire to bless those who are
oppressed in the land, to make them rulers and to make them the heirs, and to
establish them in the land. We let Pharaoh, Haman and their hosts receive from
them that of which they had feared.”
[Quran 28:1-6]

Do not say, �Who am I compared to Pharaoh?� You have demanded of the Muslims
what Pharaoh never demanded of Moses �peace be upon him- and the children of
Israel: that they should not hate you in their hearts no matter what you do to
them or how you oppress them, or else you will have revenge on them. This is an
attribute exclusive to God, for God Almighty alone is the Able to wreak
vengeance on all who do not love Him. We know of no dictatorial empire in
ancient history which treated people according to what their hearts and
consciences conceal, let alone a twenty-first century democracy.

You may say, �We intend to remove anything that will incite hate from
sermons, school curricula, newspaper articles and the media.� We reply that if
that is your democracy, then there is try as you like, but you should be sure
that you will not succeed. We learned to hate oppression and love the truth from
our religion and our Qur�an, and it is stronger than all of your means, and
firmer than your mountains. If you refuse everything but the arrogance of force
and the insanity of greatness, then there are no means left for you except the
extermination of all the Muslims with nuclear or biological weapons, or whatever
you want from hellish arsenal contains.

You may ask, �Why all of them when some of them love us?� Be sure, there is
no Muslim on earth who loves you, even if they donate their blood to you, or set
up intelligence gathering stations for you, or delegate to you setting the
curriculum for the education of their people. Everyone on earth who claims to
love you �and no Muslim is able to make that claim- they only love you like
frightened prey loves a brutal predator.

You may say, �We will restore the trust of the Islamic peoples by
changing their government into tolerant and democratic systems.� But we say you
need only cease your evil treatment of us. You destroyed the Iraqi people as
well as others by this false promise, and we do not want any freedom or
democracy that comes from you and we will not accept it. The enemy of freedom
cannot grant freedom.

Mr. President, I advise you and put the fear of God before you, to cease
and desist from hostile action. Deal with the problem with fairness and
patience, and you will find that we are with you reservation. Your hostility
now, at the beginning of the way, is easier for you and better for the world. If
not, easy beginnings are usually followed by extremely difficult ends. For that
reason I ask you to think, Mr. President, if you destroy every country on your
list of terrorists, will that be the end or only the beginning? Unless you want
to be remembered by history for Armageddon, and in that case there will be no
history anyway

For this reason I repeat to you: Fear God and think hard.

Peace upon him who follows God�s guidance,

Safar bin Abdur-Rahman Al-Hawali