Monday, June 15th Ayaan Hirsi Ali wrote this article, Obama Should Speak Truth to Islam Because Others Can't. I encourage everyone to the read the entire article for the knowledge you'll get about the Muslim world as well as the excellent political analysis.
One thing I learned is that there are the three men (pictured above) who have a compelling claim to represent the heart and soul of the umma. From left to right these three men are Muhammad Sayyid Tatawi, Ali Khamenei, and Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz. The three men hail from Egypt, Iran. and Saudi Arabia.
Muhammad Sayyid Tatawi is the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Mosque and Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar University in Cairo. This University is one of the most influential in the Muslim world.
Ali Khamenei is the grand ayatollah supreme leader of Iran, and the highest authority for Shia Muslims.
Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz is the King of Saudi Arabia and is the protector of the holy shrine of Islam (Mecca).
President Obama has met the Saudi King, and when he gave his speech in Cairo he met the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar U. and the ambassador of Iran to Egypt. Here is an excerpt of her column-
They have their differences. The king is the protector of the holy shrine of Islam and a political leader. The grand sheik has no formal political power, but it is not an exaggeration to say his institution is one of the most influential in the Muslim world. And Iran not only claims spiritual power but pursues political and military dominance. The issue of who speaks for Islam is perhaps the worst nightmare for the US; this is not fully appreciated by the crafters of American foreign policy.
This makes a discussion of the relationship between Islam and the West much more problematic than the president's speechwriters realise.
The courtship articulated in his speech was peppered with false praise (". . . it was innovation in Muslim communities that developed . . . our mastery of pens and printing."), feigned common principles and made ridiculous promises to fight negative stereotyping of Islam wherever he encounters it.
This is all part of political rhetoric, but it really doesn't lead to concrete change. This, in my view, is the wrong strategy. Instead of pretending that Muslims invented printing, the President should be confronting them with the key products of the Western printing press. And it's here that Kindles could be of use.
I imagined him offering the king, the sheik and the ayatollah each a Kindle with Abraham Lincoln's case against slavery and for equality. Obama reminded the Muslim world that "black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the centre of America's founding."
I would include Thomas Jefferson's improvements on the New Testament. The king, the sheik and the ayatollah have the authority to rule that parts of the Koran no longer apply in the modern world. For instance, the edicts of sharia law that reject scientific inquiry and order all Muslims to spread Islam.
And of course, no reading selection would be complete without a copy of the US Constitution, highlighting (because you can do that in a Kindle) the Eighth Amendment banning cruel and unusual punishment.
And for good measure, I would also add John F.Kennedy's inaugural address: "Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty. . . . To those peoples in the huts and villages across the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required. . . . To those nations who would make themselves our adversary . . . we dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed. . . . Ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man." Not to mention woman.
I think Ayaan Hirsi Ali is smart enough to know that this idea of hers will not happen. While the Ds have played a masterful political game of giving lip service to caring about women, children, and minorities this is not what they are most passionate about. They are most passionate about seizing power and control over every aspect of your life that they can acquire. In a way they can have envy for the Muslim world leaders not being restrained by that Bill of Rights thingy in the US Constitution.
The other reason it will not happen is that it requires President Obama to promote the wonders, greatness, and achievements of the United States of America that are based on its founding ideals. This kind of promotion runs counter to his self-promotion as the first one elected for the purpose of remaking a nation that is fatally flawed from the start.