2016-07-27
"Sir, we're going to wait with you here until the FBI shows up. If we need to take you in, then we'll be prepared to do that," said the head LAPD officer. I was in the American Airlines terminal of Los Angeles International Airport, where four LAPD officers surrounded me and refused to let me leave the ticket counter. And it was only because my name is Muhammad Ali Hasan.

Being an American Muslim in America today can be tough at times. As a matter of fact, being a Muslim anywhere in the world is tough these days. If you happen to be a South Asian Muslim, chances are that you are suffering from poverty. If you are an Arab Muslim, chances are you are suffering from poverty and illiteracy. If you are a Kurdistani or Bosnian Muslim, chances are that you had a close family member killed by the bloody hands of a dictator. Ditto if you're a Somali or an Afghani Muslim.

When I think about it that way, I have to admit being an American Muslim isn't that bad after all. I grew up in Colorado, where I had access to education and plenty of opportunity. Other Muslims--those living all over the developing world--don't deserve miserable lives of poverty, illiteracy, and poor health, simply because they are born into oppression. Which is why the best thing I can do for Muslims is vote to re-elect President Bush.

Some accuse the president of bringing `war' to the Muslim world, a concern I can understand. However, I believe Bush is bringing liberation, not war. The president worked tirelessly to get his $87 billion war package passed through Congress. Of that $87 billion, $2 billion was promised to Afghanistan. Another $18 billion was promised to Iraq. Despite Sen. John Kerry's vote against that bill--and his citing of the aid package to Iraq and Afghanistan as the source of his refusal to vote for it--the bill still did pass. Other aid includes $700 million to Pakistan and the promise of enormous aid to the people of Palestine.

I hate that Muslims around the world have to endure war in order to attain progress. I also sympathize with war-protestors, mainly because as a proud American I, too, hate the idea that innocent people, including Muslims, are being killed around the world.

But how could we let the Muslim world get to this point in the first place? How could we allow a Taliban regime to imprison its female citizens and then mete out numurous beatings, including torturous death, upon its own people? How could we even allow Saddam Hussein to launch chemical weapons upon Kurdistan, leading to the destruction of villages, deaths of thousands, and the extinction of basically an entire culture?

Some will say that these dictators were supported by America. Past records show White House compliance with these murderers, which I am not overlooking. While that is a fair complaint, I want to add that it was President Bush who finally announced America would no longer tolerate murderous dictators.

With that in mind, our President's efforts in Palestine will surely lead to peace as well. He is the only international leader who has put together a Roadmap To Peace that makes sense for both Palestine and Israel. Under his plan, Palestine would enjoy complete control of all of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, as well as a capital in East Jerusalem. A highway, linking the Gaza Strip to the West Bank, similar to the one that links Kandahar to Kabul (built by America and Japan), would be built soon after. Despite the fact that there would be no right to return for Palestinians, there would be gigantic amounts of aid to Palestine.

You can see evidence of the progress of this Roadmap in the actions of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. I am generally wary of Sharon, because I sometimes question his conviction toward peace. Yet he has spent this year convincing Likud members to pull out of the Gaza Strip and West Bank, instead of bulldozing Palestinian homes. That leads me to believe Bush did a pretty good job of convincing him to cultivate peace.

And peace is not just being cultivated in Palestine. I spent summer 2003 in Pakistan, where many of my relatives still live. Despite the protests of my family, I insisted on visiting the Old City of Lahore, a walled area where most of Lahore's poverty and illiteracy is closed off from the privileges of the rest of the city.

I wore a red American shirt and light blue jeans upon my brown skin as I walked into the city. I was shocked at what I encountered. Not only was I welcomed as an American, I was celebrated! Little children approached and asked me questions. Some of the folks asked if I could help them get to America, where they wanted to live their dreams. I walked around the old Wazir Khan Mosque, where the imam was excited to hear that I was visiting from America. I could not find a single poster of Osama Bin Laden, nor a single sympathizer.

Despite the poverty and illiteracy that still exist, I can see that the $700 million the Bush Administration is sending there, as well as the lifting of sanctions President Clinton placed upon the country, are clearly helping. Pakistan's economy has never been more lively. As an American, I found that the only hostile environments I encountered were in the homes of rich people, not in the homes of the poor.

To my American audience, I say: fear not our reputation around the world. I have been to one of the Muslim world's poorest parts, and they still believe in America there. To my anti-war audience, I say: the people of the Muslim world are on our side and appreciate our efforts to liberate them. We cannot give up now.

In one four-year term, President Bush has rid Afghanistan of the Taliban, rid Iraq of Saddam Hussein, and brought economic liberation to Pakistan. Can I really expect Sen. Kerry to improve upon this job--considering that he wrote parts of the Patriot Act, rejected President Bush's aid to the Muslim world, and did not visit any mosques shortly after 9/11? Not likely.

And speaking of the Patriot Act, do I really want to replace President Bush with an author of the Patriot Act? At this moment, the Administration has one American Muslim citizen detained under the Patriot Act. Yes, it is one too many, and we encourage the administration to allow this man a trial as soon as possible. However, considering the times we are living in and the response our country gave to Japanese-Americans after World War II, I'm inclined to say that--for a "right-wing" administration--one detainee is not that bad. John Kerry has said he would keep 95% of the Patriot Act intact and "strengthen" the other five percent. He only supported the S.A.F.E. Act after the Supreme Court struck down the parts of the Patriot Act that the S.A.F.E. Act had advocated removing anyway.

John Kerry's management of the Patriot Act would not be bette than President Bush's. After all, in order for it to be better, he would have to free the one detainee and after that refuse to arrest any more Muslim Americans. Considering the fact that he has done so few visits to mosques, so few outreach efforts to Muslims, and has a strong voting record against Muslim aid, I find it hard to believe Kerry would suddenly exercise compassion towards Muslims.

Yet Senator Kerry should be the best friend of all American Muslims, considering that he is the most liberal Senator from a state like Massachusetts, where befriending Muslims would not be a bad thing. Thus, if he cannot bring himself to embrace Muslims as a Senator, why would he embrace us as President?

I hate the Patriot Act. However, I believe President Bush's management of such an Act has been extremely responsible.

Despite my temporary detainment, I was allowed to board my flight. The police officers and FBI agents were extremely polite. I spent the hour of detainment talking to them about football and how unfair it was that Los Angeles still didn't have an NFL team. It caused one officer to lament, "I wish they would just let me clear you because you're more American than I am."

I let the Bush Administration know about this check, as well as other security checks or deportings that seemed unnecessary. I believe the administration has been quick in its response to civil rights concerns, as more immigrants from the Muslim world are moving again to America, and very few are deported.

The road to peace, especially in the Muslim world, is a tough one that calls for difficult decisions. President Bush has given the Muslim world aid, outreach, and even love. And that is why voting to reelect the president is the best thing I can do for Muslims around the world.