While we thank our chaplain, [UNCLEAR] for coming here and joining us tonight, I would like to invited Dr. Sami al-Arian for a brief comment on the events of this evening and the proceedings, please. [UNCLEAR]
DR. SAMI AL-ARIAN:
[ARABIC] My brothers and sisters, [ARABIC] I’d like to make a very few brief comments, because of the time limitation. First, I’d like to thank the honorable congress—David Bonior, Congressman David Bonior for his leadership and support of our issues. He’s been a tremendous help. He was able singlehandedly to raise that issue to prominence, especially within the U.S. Congress. I’d also like to thank Dr. [UNCLEAR] Said for his leadership in empowering the American Muslim community through all the work that was taking place, especially last year. For the AMPCC, as well as the other brothers on the panel here with AMC, CAIR, and MPAC. There has been a lot of talk about the endorsement of President Bush. We did not—the brothers did not endorse him because of Palestine or Iraq. There was a single issue. That was the issue of civil rights to us. There isn’t any ethnic group in this United States that was empowered politically before they won their civil rights battles. Whether we like it or not, that civil rights battle has been defined to us in the issue of secret evidence. We wanted to raise that issue to the full front of the national debate. [ARABIC] we’re able to do that to the point that everybody heard it on national T.V. Millions of people heard what is happening to us.
So far the president did not deliver on his promise. We must hold him accountable. The jury’s still out whether he would or wouldn’t. And whether he would, that would depend on our involvement. So I have a plan of action. I have a request, an appeal—a plea for everyone here. The White House has said that they will not issue a statement or a position before sometime in September. That means we have few days to work on this. Our hope is to generate thousands of calls to the White House asking them to support HR 1266. Secret Evidence Repeal Act. Again, that’s HR 1266. The bill that has been sponsored, chiefly, by Congressman Bonior. That bill has to receive the support, has to receive the support of the White House so that eventually it will become the law of the land where no secret evidence will ever be used against anyone, Muslims or otherwise. [APPLAUSE] Brothers and sisters, the White House main number is 202-456-1111. Again, that’s 202-456-1111. Every single person here, everyone you know, must call that number. Phone calls are the best, that’s number one. I’ll give you the e-mail later.
You must call and say, please support the banning of secret evidence, please support HR 1266. We must get all Muslims, all our friends, all those who love the freedom and the freedom of association and everything that the Constitution stands for in the area of civil liberties and freedoms and due process. To make that one phone call, because then and only then we can say whether our involvement made a difference. The White House or the president e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. G-O-V. President@whitehouse.gov. G-O-V. Secondly, please visit your congressman. Make a delegation to—make a point to visit your congressman and if they are not a co-sponsor yet on the bill, they must co-sign. You must make your voices heard. Thirdly, please visit your editorial boards in the major newspaper in your town or city and let them know about this issue. Let them take a position in the editorial section as well as in the op-ed pieces. Thank you very much. [ARABIC]
Thank you, Dr. Sami. You took some of my papers, also, Sami. Dr. Sami, you took some of my papers. I know it’s not a good sign to take–[LAUGHTER] Thank you. [UNCLEAR] Next time. I think this answers the question that we got from the floor that since the secret act, law, has been repealed, so what is next step, etceteras? Now we know that, of course, it has not been repealed. In fact, it is still on, so we need to generate something like twenty to fifty thousand calls to the White House so that we have some chance of passing [ARABIC] I received another piece of paper from the floor, somebody who definitely is very much biased who’s saying that, what about Suhail Khan’s talk? Who says Suhail Khan’s going to talk? I say, because I am the director. [LAUGHS] So brother Suhail Khan, please come, share with us your views, being inside the White House now and give us some comfort whether we should give up hope in the White House or is there some hope there. [APPLAUSE]
[ARABIC] Thank you for giving me the opportunity to address the audience. I’ve been told I only have a few minutes, so I really won’t be able to share my experiences over the last several months at the White House serving under the new administration. I hope, inshallah, there might be another opportunity. But what I might tell you, because so many people have been asking me and caring enough to ask how it is to serve under our new president in the White House, how the change has been for me to leave Capitol Hill from serving Congressman Tom Campbell for over five years and now make the change. And I can just tell you that we have hope, inshallah, we will make progress, inshallah, that we should not feel discouraged by setbacks, we should not feel that we are being pushed around and that we are going to become weaker, we, inshallah, will become stronger. We are a nation that is growing, a nation of people that is becoming stronger as Muslims, as an ummah. And we have to worry not about the success in this world and the results in this world. We worry about the success, inshallah, in the hereafter.
They are people, who I remember, as a young Muslim growing up in the United States, that have served to inspire me and their experiences and it’s their experiences that keep me going everyday. And caused me to serve you as a Muslim community, to serve our country as a community and to work hard, even if we have setbacks in the short term. We are a nation and a people of immigrants. I don’t care what color, what religion, we are a nation of immigrants. And that is the Islamic tradition as well. Remember the immigrants that immigrated to seek freedom of religion to Abyssinia The first immigrants, there were over eight of them, who left the Mecca—Meccan persecution at the request of prophet Muhammad [ARABIC] they went to Abyssinia, Jafar, [UNCLEAR] Zubar and so many others. And they were given the peace of religious freedom in Abyssinia. We know that people were brought here forcibly under chains. Kunta Kinte was brought here before the United States was even founded, brought to Maryland as a sixteen year old. And he was beaten and beaten to change his name, even though he fought to preserve his Islam. And you should know that more than one out of ten African-American slaves brought to this country from Africa were in fact Muslims. And finally, I’ll end by telling you the experience and the inspirational story of a lady who came here as a nineteen-year old to seek religious freedom, to seek freedom from persecution in her own home country because of her religion, because of her faith, because she was a woman, because she was the only surviving child of her mother’s second marriage, and because she had no hope in her own country, she came here as a nineteen-year old to—in 1968—a very troubled year in the United States, she fought hard for our community. She worked with her husband to establish organizations like the MSA, ISNA, CAIR, American Muslims for Global Peace and Justice. She worked hard to establish an Islamic center in Orange County. She worked hard to establish an Islamic center and MCA in Santa Clara, and she still works hard today. And, inshallah, I work for my mother and I work for you. There’s a dream that is America. And, inshallah, with your work and your help, we will make that dream a reality. Inshallah. [ARABIC] [APPLAUSE]
Thank you, Suhail, thank you. I know you will not disappoint us.