November 14th, 2008
12:07 PM ET

Letter to Obama on the Muslim world

Editor's Note: Arsalan Iftikhar is an international human rights lawyer, founder of www.TheMuslimGuy.comand contributing editor for Islamica Magazine in Washington.

Arsalan Iftikhar | BIO
Founder, themuslimguy.com

First of all, as one of more than 66 million Americans of all races, religions and ethnicities who voted for you, your electoral victory was one of the proudest moments of our collective lives.

As our American political history witnessed the magnitude of our nation's first African-American president, our society was also able to collectively (and finally) exhale, knowing that the mailbox at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. would now read "Obama" instead of "Bush."

With hardly a moment's rest, as you transition toward Inauguration Day, our nation (and the rest of the world) will not wait for long before seeking your leadership on many pressing global issues.

From an economic recessionary mess to a perpetually broken health care system with 46 million American neighbors as uninsured casualties, your soon-to-be administration will face some monumental domestic and foreign policy issues that will affect us for generations.

From an ill-conceived war in Iraq to an oft-forgotten war in Afghanistan, from global flashpoints from Tel Aviv to Islamabad, your diplomatic and political interaction with the Muslim world may decide the success (or failure) of your foreign policy legacy.


Filed under: Arsalan Iftikhar • Barack Obama • Raw Politics
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. jim Fallbrook CA

    First of all President Barack Hussein Obama as a muslim should know you can’t negotiate with his muslim brothers. Trying to negotiate or talk to muslims is like talking to a brick wall. History proves that. It would be nice if he could take a agressive approach which muslims understand. Unfortunately, that won’t happen. He will follow in the footsteps of Jimmy Carter. If the younger generation doesn’t know their history, Carter allowed a terrorist government in Iran to hold Americans hostage for 444 days. In the words of Liberal Democrat Eugene McCarthy "Carter had quite simply abdicated the whole responsibility of the presidency while in office. He left the nation at the mercy of its enemies at home and abroad. He was quite simply the worst president we ever had.That was the main reason we are fully involved in all the middle east crises spending billions of dollars. Thank you Jimmy Carter and a future thank you to Obama.

    February 7, 2009 at 10:01 pm |
  2. Emeka Onyedinma

    Hi am Emeka From Nigeria.Most great leaders failed not because of lack of judgement or lack of innovation or passion,rather they failed because they were too nationalistic.Hitler,Mussolini,and stalin had those problems.Believing that their country is the greatest in the world, and thus should not listen to any other.Even George Bush had the same problem.
    Obama should not be like that, especially with a man like Rohm Emmanuel as his Chief of Staff.
    Also, off the record.Anderson Cooper should be the next james Bond(007).

    November 17, 2008 at 4:35 am |
  3. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    I firmly believe there is prosperity for a nation when it's at peace. We can't take from other countries something that doesn't belong to us but through peaceful bargaining we can gain the trust that's needed to insure our prosperity.

    November 16, 2008 at 2:47 pm |
  4. Earnestine


    November 16, 2008 at 5:19 am |
  5. J.V.Hodgson

    Sorry to say but the so called War on terror is a misnomer.
    One side believes they are fighting for thier religious rights and thier version of law and democracy ( theocracy) the other mainly America, is opposed partly because of its own religious beliefs and of course wanted middle east Oil to be controlled by democratic governments. The only option here was war with Iraq which had a dictator, Saddam Hussein. The political justification was WMD ( untrue) and Al Qaeda ( back to religion) terrorists also nonsense as Iraq under Hussein was and remains an Islamic state.
    Declaring war on Iraq and global terrorism ( the latter regarding themselves as defenders of the faith) has without doubt strengthened rather than weakened the terrorists. They used to be called guerilla fighters – people who are one moment part of society and next killers and you never find them all.
    It is impossible to fight what you cannot identify 100 %.
    My point is that the so called war on terrorism has its base in religious belief and historically they are never really won. Also any attempt to impose western style law, democracy and religious beliefs is doomed not to succeed especially when the pre-conditions for talks are clearly targeted a t the very definitive core of thier beliefs.
    We do not talk to terrorists does not mean they go away it simply makes them more desparate and leads to the perpetration of even more horrendous acts.
    Start talking to everybody and not shooting and beheading each other.
    Like it or not Palestinians have rights, Hizbollah and Hamas have rights, and if you talk reasonably to them they are not all murderous scum or terrorists just fighting for thier individual rights and freedoms. Let them have those and a solution can be found and concessions will have to be made by both sides. In doing so let each of your respective gods guide you, Islam and Christianity are both here to stay.

    November 16, 2008 at 12:30 am |
  6. Maurice Udobia

    God bless America and other countries of the world.I do not care about what people say, all I know is that this country have been blessed.I call Obama the fixer sent by God and not the decider who corsed us many wars.

    November 15, 2008 at 11:44 pm |
  7. Ahmad Wain

    Great article.

    I like how you have avoided the recommendation of using force or threates of using force anywhere aroud the world. This is the correct way to build the rightous American image and help rebuild the economy.

    Obama is an extremely smart man. I hope and pray he is able to accomplish all the goods he wants to.

    November 15, 2008 at 3:11 pm |
  8. Tyrone

    A time for change

    November 15, 2008 at 7:46 am |
  9. Tyrone


    Somebody white must answer this question. HOW DID VOTING 43 WHITE ONLY MALE ONLY PRESIDENTS AND VICE PRESIDENTS HELP THE WHITE RACE MORE SO THEN OTHER RACES???? Given the fact that 600,000 to a million Americans black white and others are losing there homes. 61% of all poor in america is WHITE! 67%of all Americans on welfare are WHITE! White have been incharge forever. How can this be? Or the fact that gas is just as high for black whites and others. Or that 4189 Americans black white and others are dead in Iraq for nothing! John McCain and President Bush should answer for the needless death of American. It is time for change! White Republicans must also answer for the needless death of American troops in Iraq. But for there vote for the worse President with the worse judgement. The men and women that put on the uniform of there country. Believeing the proper judgement in the behalf country and the military would be used. IT WAS NOT!!!! White people must step up and support the vote of the country. And not for McCain who is responsible for the needless death of Americans.

    November 15, 2008 at 7:45 am |
  10. Tyrone


    Benedict Arnold V born January 14 1741 was a general during the American Revolutionary War who originally fought for the American Continental Army, but switched sides to the British Empire. As a general still on the American side, he obtained command of the fort at West Point, New York, and attempted unsuccessfully to surrender it to the British. After this he served with British forces as a Loyalist. Todays Benedict Arnold is Senator Lieberman ! Lieberman is a turn coat ! And should not be trusted ! It is one thing not to agreed with your party. But to speak against and disrespect the democrate nominee is just wrong! Senator Lieberman attacked Obama patriotism and experience! Joseph Isadore "Joe" Lieberman (born February 24, 1942) is the junior United States Senator from Connecticut. Lieberman was first elected to the United States Senate in 1988, and was elected to his fourth term on November 7, 2006. In the 2000 U.S. presidential election, Lieberman was the Democratic candidate for Vice President, running with presidential nominee Al Gore, becoming the first Jewish candidate on a major American political party presidential ticket. He and his running mate won the popular vote, but ultimately failed to gain the electoral votes needed to win the heavily controversial election. Lieberman ran for re-election to the U.S. Senate while he was also Gore's running-mate, and he was re-elected by the voters of Connecticut. He attempted to become the Democratic nominee in the 2004 Presidential election, but was unsuccessful. IT IS TIME FOR HIM TO RETIRE!

    November 15, 2008 at 7:41 am |
  11. Marie Z, Ithaca, NY

    Thank you, Mr. Arsalan Iftikhar, for pointing out to us something that we need to hear many times. - That wisdom has no borders, that intelligence has no religion, and that sanity has no color. - Your insight is much appreciated, as well as your astute words. - Let us all hope that, this time, we do something right. - Thank you, again.

    November 14, 2008 at 9:13 pm |
  12. Gene Penszynski from Vermont

    Cindy and Mary V.,
    I must admit that I have to admire you both for putting our nation and our new president first over partisan politics. Your comments and your support are welcome in this regard. As a nation we're going to need all the unity we can get to help solve the problems that we now face. Religion and religious beliefs shouild not divide us when it comes to working to save the ideals that our nation stands for.
    I hope that out of the ashes of this election will emerge a stronger more peaceful and more united America. If we all stay focused on solving our problems I have no doubt we will be successful.


    November 14, 2008 at 7:02 pm |
  13. Justin W.J. in Phoenix

    In the speech Obama gave right after he won, I remember him addressing those who didn't vote for him, and he said that he would be their president too. Thats good enough for me.

    November 14, 2008 at 6:42 pm |
  14. Johnny from SC

    Great article.... I agree with you and most of your fellow bloggers. Obama is a very intelligent man. He is surrounding himself with some of the most brillant people in America. I think with his leadership and with and the guidance from his cabinate he will get this nation back on track. And I believe that he will restore our reputation around the world. But he can't do it alone.. We all need to pray for his safety and for this great country.

    I do with believe in God Melissa. I believe that God created the earth and man. We will all have someone to answer to when our final day comes. However; I don't believe in pushing my beliefs off on you or anyone else

    November 14, 2008 at 6:15 pm |
  15. Mary V., Salt Lake City, UT

    @ Melissa in Los Angeles, that's okay. You are free to believe as you wish.


    November 14, 2008 at 5:47 pm |
  16. Ratna Sadal

    Dear Arsalan,

    You forgot to mention civil liberties and policies in our federal court-system. Affects us all!

    November 14, 2008 at 3:17 pm |
  17. Rose from Calif

    I have FAITH that President-Elect Obama will do as much as time allows him to do. I feel he will do what important first in his list of, "what to do's list".

    November 14, 2008 at 2:51 pm |
  18. Melissa, Los Angeles

    Obama did say he may not be able to accomplish everything in one term – I believe that with all the harm that's been done the past 8 years.

    @ Mary V. there are those like me who don't believe in God so he has nothing to do with the problems we're facing – it's all MAN created.

    November 14, 2008 at 2:48 pm |
  19. Mary V., Salt Lake City, UT

    I agree with my conservative friend, Cindy of GA. President-elect Obama has a mountain to climb and problems that are at best, difficult! Your article is brilliant. I, for one, am always deeply saddened by the rhetoric of xenophobia of the Republicans and indeed, the far-right. I thank God every day that we, the People, rejected the politics of lies, hate, fear and division spewed by the far-right.

    People forget, or do not know, that there are Three Great Abrahamic Faiths: Islam, Judaism, and Christianity! We have ONE GOD, and we are ALL His children!

    November 14, 2008 at 1:55 pm |
  20. Cindy

    Great letter! But I am very skeptical of Obama getting everything "fixed" in his short first term I do hope we at least get this nation turned back around and on the right track again. Anything outside of our nation should come second to us well except the wars. We need to deal with that too.


    November 14, 2008 at 12:38 pm |
  21. Scott NYC

    All your points are well taken and I agree with them. But your perception is lacking in that President Elect Obama has demonstrated time and again that he is aware of much more than we the people give him credit for. I voted for him because of his command on a wide range of issues that can be affected and have an effect from a federal perspective. President Elect Obama is a thinker. Just because he hasn't made his thought public doesnt' mean he doesn't have a plan.

    November 14, 2008 at 12:31 pm |

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