January 1, 2004 | Op-ed

Muslims – stand with democracy, not dictatorship!

Authored by Oubai Shahbandar

The Iraqi tyrant has been captured, the Iraqi people are now free. They no longer live in the prison of Saddam's Baathist regime – Saddam now resides in theirs. As another holiday season passes, Muslims have renewed reason to rejoice and be merry as the gift of hope and liberty penetrate the medieval darkness that much of the Muslim and Arab world have been mired in for the past 200 years.

Gadhafi and Assad now tremble, for freedom is infectious. Muslims and Arabs now see that the oppression of secular tyrants and Islamist extremists need not rule their lives. The thugs of Baathism and Wahabbism are mortal, cowardly forces that are, when put to the test, easily defeated.

President Bush has clearly delineated his refreshingly radical transformation of American foreign policy that holds tyranny everywhere as a threat to liberty and democracy anywhere. Saddam wannabes now see that despotism does not pay. Muslims, Christians and Jews living in the Arab and Islamic world now have the blessed opportunity to live a life void of fear and persecution.

When the forces of freedom shackled Saddam, tyranny and extremism suffered a blow – and when Saddam is tried, the reactionary hatred and totalitarianism that he stood for will also stand before the justice of the Iraqi people and humanity. Saddam, the tyrant, is dead. Saddam, the petulant, bearded, petty thug, lies naked in his soiled garb and we Muslims and Arabs, of all people, should hate him.

At last, the desert gulag of despair that was Iraq can stand as an oasis of much-needed progressive reform amongst its backward neighbors. Iraqis rejoiced when the statues of Saddam came tumbling down – they rejoiced yet again when the evil man himself was excavated from his filthy lair like the dishonorable rat he was.

But more importantly to me as an American, Arabs celebrated in the street of Dearborn, home of the largest concentration of Americans of Arab descent in the country. They celebrated because for the first time in memory, Arabs had a real reason to be happy: Saddam will meet the court of the people he tortured before that of his Maker, and nothing in the Arab and Muslim world will ever be the same hence.

However, it is troubling to this American of Arab and Muslim heritage that so-called “advocacy groups” like the Muslim Public Affairs Council, Islamic Society of North America, Council on American-Islamic Relations, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Muslim Students Association, and the Arab-American Institute have proved to be less than forthcoming in their support of the capture of a man who single-handedly was responsible for the gassing, torture, murder and wrongful imprisonment of over a million Muslims.

The cold unfeeling silence of these Islamist front groups is deafening – their refusal to take the lead in condemning Saddam was morally repugnant. Such groups issued public statements much like that of CAIR, which while perfunctorily stating that they (ostensibly) supported the capture of the tyrant, they remained steadfast in their opposition to the coalition forces going into Iraq to do so in the first place.

This strand of Orwellian doublespeak is obviously intended to shield these Islamist front groups from public criticism while at the same time giving them room to stick to their virulent agenda of obstructing religious and political reform in the Arab and Muslim world.

Groups like CAIR and the MSA seem more inclined to support the liberation of convicted murderers like H Rap Brown and Mumia Abu Jamal than the imprisonment of mass murders like Saddam. This is a grave disservice to the memory of the scores of Muslims, Assyrians, Jews and Arabs slaughtered by Saddam's regime and to the millions more of Muslims and Iraqi-Americans living here who rightly desire a better world for their brethren overseas.

Americans of Arab and Muslim heritage have the unique opportunity to utilize their freedoms in this country for the good of the oppressed Muslim and Arab masses that still languish under the repressive rule of Saddamite replicas. It would be a shame to allow the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee to hold a monopoly on American Muslim and Arab sentiment.

We, as Arab-Americans and Muslim-Americans desire freedom and dignity. We yearn for the liberation of the oppressed. As Americans we cannot allow the ADC and CAIR to usurp the popular will for their own pernicious political agendas. There can be no room in the national dialogue for those who would apologize for crimes against humanity – CAIR and the ADC must be publicly repudiated by American Muslims and Arabs who are happy that Saddam is gone and who look forward to the day when democracy and not dictatorship reigns over the Muslim and Arab peoples.

Oubai Mohammad Shahbandar, currently a senior at Arizona State University, is one of the nation's leading young conservative activists and an Undergraduate Fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.