President Obama, many of my Muslim friends aren’t afraid to label adherents to political Islam as “Islamists.” And the terrorists refer to themselves as the “true Muslims.” To deny them those categories would be like those who deny your claim to be “a Christian.”
Dear President Obama,
Please know that I am one of those who pray for you on a regular basis. The Scriptures command me to pray for those in leadership.
Please also know that any criticisms I have regarding your foreign policies are neither personal nor political. I have found some across the aisle from you who have equally questionable views regarding such policies.
Although I don’t presume to enter into your mind nor know your motives, I think I understand the process of your thinking regarding radical Islam. Incidentally, I think also some of the President George W. Bush’s administration may share some of your views.
Given your childhood years spent in Indonesia, and your friendships then with some Muslims at school and in that country in general, you have a deep aversion to calling fundamentalist Muslims by the appropriate name: “Islamists” or “Jihadists.” You fear that by doing so, you would appear to paint all Muslims with the same brush.
I also grew up in a majority-Muslim country. As a boy living under that country’s dictatorship, I dreamed of living under the American flag, with all its liberties. But I also loved my school friends who were Muslims. To this day, I have many fine friends who are Muslims.
However, many of my Muslim friends are not afraid to label adherents to political Islam as “Islamists.” After all, the terrorists refer to themselves as the “true Muslims.” To deny them those categories would be like those who deny your claim to be “a Christian.”
Some of the fine Muslims that come to mind also include Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah.
For example, I have observed President el-Sisi since his days as Field Marshall el-Sisi, and I’ve listened to many of his speeches. I’ve concluded that they come no finer than him in the Muslim world.
Recently, after experiencing the horror of a terrorist attack upon his military personnel in the Sinai, el-Sisi repeated his belief that terrorists are actually not religious at all. The best translation I can offer of his comments are: “If Allah does not force people to worship him or believe in him, who are those people [referring to Islamists and the Muslim Brotherhood] to force people to worship and believe their way?”
And yet, to my puzzlement, Mr. Obama, you reject acceptance and cooperation with President el-Sisi and refuse to abandon your fondness for the Muslim Brotherhood. You continue to see el-Sisi as the leader of a coup, instead of the steward of the wishes of 33 million Egyptians who took to the streets to rid the country of the Islamist terrorist group in charge.
Whatever the reasons for your stance, I ask you to reconsider. Let me assure you that the U.S. and all of the Western World, if not the whole world, would do well to ask President el-Sisi to lead the global effort to rid the world of Islamist terrorists.
I know it would take humility to take such bold action. But I’ve heard you a few times, and you use the word “humility” quite a lot.
To throw American resources and prestige behind a good Muslim leader would truly earn you the respect for being a man who wants to get the job done, regardless of who gets the credit. In fact, you’ll get a whole lot of credit as a wise man who rejects “egotism” and “stubborn pride.”
President Obama, please consider these simple thoughts from a U.S. immigrant – an immigrant who is not a hyphenated American, but just an American. An immigrant who dearly loves his country and seeks only its best and greatness again.
Michael Youssef, PhD is an Egyptian-born American and founding rector of The Church of The Apostles in Atlanta, GA. His messages are broadcast 3,800 times a week into 200 countries through Leading The Way Ministries. He holds a PhD from Emory University in Social Anthropology.