Ikrām Lam‘ī comments on the letter that activists have
sent to President Barack Obama calling on him to use his influence to force Arab countries to observe
A group of human right activists, including Americans, Arabs and public figures from
different countries, have sent a letter to Barack Obama calling on him to support human right causes in
Arab countries and stop supporting autocratic Arab regimes which violate human rights.
has some remarks about this letter. Firstly, he argues that reform is required but that those activists
are mistaken in the method they have chosen. According to the author, resorting to the American president
to use his influence to interfere and put pressure on Arab countries to carry out reforms is itself a
violation of the rights of the Arab peoples, governments and leaders. He says that they should have
addressed their messages to the rulers concerned and with the support of their peoples, if they have any
credibility among these peoples! Lots of disasters have resulted from foreign interference in many
countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and, recently, Sudan, the author stresses.
they call on the United States to put economic pressure on poor countries by cutting off the aid it sends
to these countries, and this, according to the Eastern culture, as the author points out, is a kind of
baseness. The author wonders how they could dare go and ask for the starvation of the Egyptian people to
achieve their goals. He clarifies that such behavior explains why such activists are hated by their
Thirdly, for them, reform means democracy; even if it leads to Islamists assuming power.
They argue that not all Islamist political parties and groups are fanatical and that many of them respect
minorities, women and the opposition and are not violent or fanatic. The author wonders, if they that is
so, why do they call themselves "Islamic"? Is not this a kind of fanaticism? He stresses that Obama and
the American Administration are well aware of the Muslim’s Brotherhood’s stance in Egypt and what
Islamist groups have done in Sudan, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The author points out that Hitler,
Ahmadinejad and Ismā‘īl Hanīyah assume power through free elections and the result
is clear. What is needed is to raise people’s awareness about the meaning of democracy and teach them
how to choose their leaders, according to the author. He wishes that those activists, instead of
attempting to try and enforce democracy from abroad, had worked through their organizations to spread the
true concept of democracy.
[For more about this see AWR 2009, week 10 article 31]