An Open Letter to President Obama
by Brigitte Gabriel
Dear Mr. President,
You face difficult challenges in matters such as achieving peace in the Middle East and protecting America from the threat of radical Islam and terrorism. These are challenges that have vexed past presidents, going as far back as our second president, John Adams. I have no doubt you appreciate both the gravity of these challenges and the enormous obstacles that exist to solving them.
I also have no doubt that you and your staff understood that, no matter what you said in your speech last Thursday in Cairo, there would be those who would take issue with you. That is always the case when attempting to solve problems that are as deep and emotionally-laden as these challenges are.
I am assuming it is your sincere hope that the approach you have chosen to take, as evidenced by what I’m sure was a carefully crafted speech, will ultimately prove successful. However, it pains me to say this sir, but, while you said in your speech that you are a “student of history,” it is abundantly clear that, in these matters, you do not know history and thus, as Santayana noted, you are doomed to repeat it. In doing so your efforts, however well-intentioned they may be, will not produce what you profess to hope they will produce.
A wise man once said that if you start with the wrong assumptions, no matter how logical your reasoning is, you will end up with the wrong conclusion. With all due respect Mr. President, you are starting with certain assumptions that are unsupported by history and an objective study of the ideology of political Islam.
You began in your speech by asserting that “tensions” exist between the United States and Muslims around the world, which, of course, is correct. Unfortunately, you then proceeded, incorrectly, to lay virtually all the blame for these tensions at the feet of America and the West. You blamed western colonialism, the Cold War, and even modernity and globalism.
A student of American history, who is not trying to reconstruct it to fit a modern politically correct narrative, would state that tensions between America and Muslims began with the unprovoked, four-decades long assault by the Muslim Barbary pirates against American shipping in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. I find it telling that you mentioned the Treaty of Tripoli in your speech but ignored the circumstances that led to it. That treaty was but one of numerous attempts by the United States to achieve peace with the jihadists of the Barbary Coast who were attacking our shipping and killing and enslaving our citizens and our soldiers – and who by their own admission were doing so to fulfill the call to jihad.
These jihadists were not acting to protest American foreign policy, which was decidedly isolationist, and there was no state of Israel to scapegoat. They were doing what countless Islamic jihadists have done throughout history – acting upon the hundreds of passages in the Qur’an and the Hadith that call upon faithful Muslims to kill, conquer or subjugate the infidel.
A student of world history would know that, for all the acknowledged evils of Western colonialism, these evils pale in comparison to the nearly 14 centuries of Islamic colonialism that began in Arabia under the leadership of Mohammed. The student of history would know that Islamic forces eradicated all Jewish and Christian presence from Arabia after Mohammed’s death, and then succeeded in conquering all of North Africa, most of the Middle East, much of Asia Minor, and significant portions of Europe and India – eventually creating an empire larger than Rome’s was at its peak.
The number of dead and enslaved during these many centuries of Islamic imperial conquest and colonialism have been estimated to total more than 300 million. What’s more, the wealth of many of the conquered nations and cultures was plundered by the Islamic conquerors, and millions of millions of non-Muslims who did survive were forced to pay onerous taxes, such as the “jizya,” a humiliation tax to the Islamic caliphs. Indeed, in some areas Christians and Jews were made to wear a receipt for the jizya around their neck as a mark of their dishonor.
These facts have not been invented by Christian or Jewish historical revisionists, but were chronicled by Muslim eyewitnesses throughout the past 14 centuries and are available to be researched by any person seeking an objective understanding of how Islam spread throughout the world.
You say in your speech that we must squarely face the tensions that exist between America and the Muslim world. That is a laudable notion with which I agree, but by casting Islam as the historical victim and the West (and by implication, America) as the aggressor, you do not face these tensions squarely, but alleviate the Muslim world from coming to grips with the jihadist ideology embedded in its holy books and acted upon for 1,400 years.
Even worse, you empower and embolden militant Islamists who regard your gestures as signs of weakness and capitulation.
The issue is not that all Muslims are terrorists or radicals or extremists. We all know that the majority of Muslims are not. We also know that many peace-loving Muslims are victims of Islamist violence.
The issue is this: what drives hundreds of millions of Muslims worldwide to call for the death of Jews?
What drives millions of Muslims to riot, destroy property, and take innocent lives in reaction to the Danish cartoons?
What drives tens of thousands of Muslims to demand the execution of a British teacher whose only “crime” was allowing her students to name their teddy bears “Mohammed”?
What drives countless Muslims worldwide to actively participate in, or fund, or provide nurture to, terrorist organizations?
What drives Muslims in mosques in America to proclaim and distribute materials that call for hatred of and the destruction of infidels?
What drives entire Islamic countries to prohibit the building of a Christian church or synagogue?
To assume, as you apparently do, that what drives these actions is not an ideology embedded in the holy books of Islam, but rather other “root causes,” most of which you lay at the feet of America and the West, is at best naïve and at worst dangerous.
Lastly, I must address your statement that “Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance.” Unfortunately, the examples you gave are the exception rather than the rule.
Historically speaking, I seriously doubt the Egyptian Copts, the Lebanese Maronites, the Christians in Bethlehem, the Assyrians, the Hindus, the Jews, and many others who have been persecuted by Islamic violence and supremacism, would agree with your assertion.
For instance, Christians and Jews became “Dhimmis,” a second class group under Islam. Dhimmis were forced to wear distinctive clothing; it was Baghdad’s Caliph Al-Mutawakkil, in the ninth century, who designated a yellow badge for Jews under Islam, which Hitler copied and duplicated in Nazi Germany nearly a thousand years later.
I witnessed first-hand the “tolerance” of Islam when Islamists ravaged my country of birth, Lebanon, in the 1970’s, leaving widespread death and destruction in their wake. I saw how they re-paid the tolerance that Lebanese Christians extended toward them. My experience is not an isolated one. When you make an unfounded assertion about the “proud tradition” of tolerance in Islam, you do a great disservice to the hundreds of millions of non-Muslims who have been killed, maimed, enslaved, conquered, subjugated or displaced – in the cause of Islamic jihad.
Mr. President, those of us like me who are ringing the alarm in America about the threat of radical Islam would like nothing better than to peacefully co-exist with the Muslim world. Most Americans would like nothing better than to peacefully co-exist with the Muslim world. The obstacle to achieving this does not lie with us in America and the West. It lies with the hundreds of millions of Muslims worldwide, including many of their spiritual leaders, who take seriously the repeated calls to jihad in the Qur’an and the Hadith. Who regard “infidels” as inferior and worthy of conquering, subjugating and forcibly converting. Who support “cultural jihad” as a means to subvert non-Muslim societies from within. Who take seriously the admonitions throughout the Qur’an and the Hadith to convert the world to Islam – by force if necessary – and bring it under the rule of Allah.
Unless you are willing to courageously and honestly accept this, your aspirations for worldwide comity and peace in the Middle East are doomed to fail.
Brigitte Gabriel is the New York Times bestselling author of They Must Be Stopped: Why We Must Defeat Radical Islam and How We Can Do It. She is the founder and president of ACT! for America, www.ActforAmerica.org