American credibility at issue in Ukraine crisis

MAR 5, 2014, 6:00 AM POLITICS

Dawud Walid: American credibility at issue in Ukraine crisis

President Barack Obama’s recent posture regarding the crisis in Ukraine illustrates how much credibility America has lost on the world stage and the dichotomy within our foreign policy.

Obama recently stated that Russia is not respecting Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence and that it is violating human rights and international law in the process. But given America’s recent history of invading Iraq on false pretenses, supporting an illegal incursion of Ethiopia into Somalia and our continuing encroachment on Pakistani and Yemeni sovereignty through extra-judicial drone killings, which have caused many civilian fatalities, the White House isn’t the right voice for touting the respectability of international law.

Just like the Kremlin, American foreign policy is skewed towards what the White House believes is in our nation’s best interests in other countries — not the best interests of non-Americans. Putin supports particular camps in Ukraine and in other places, which serve his interests,  just as Obama supports governments which violate human rights, from Bahrain to Uzbekistan.

Meanwhile as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry flew into Kiev to offer $1 billion in aid to the Ukrainian government in a Cold War-type chess move, the Obama administration has given a measly sum in comparison to relief efforts for victims of ongoing ethnic cleansing in Central African Republic. But hey, helping Africans being displaced and massacred in a diamond-rich area is not as sexy as pouring a billion bucks into a former Soviet satellite.

These policies are not about people, but perceived interests.

At the end of the day, Russia is going to do what it wants to do in Ukraine knowing that America can’t stop them. We won’t intervene with our military, just as we did not in 2008 when they bum-rushed the Republic of Georgia. Russia also knows that we don’t have the moral high ground to even lead an international military contingency into the region at this time.

I hope that there’s not mass bloodshed in Ukraine and that its citizens’ will is served, not the will of Russia or the U.S. I just don’t think that making empty threats to Putin and driving up our national debt through $1 billion in aid is going to facilitate the true aspirations of the Ukrainian people.


Using Islamophobia to discredit Obama is shameful

Sun & News (Hastings, Michigan)
October 5, 2013

Using Islamophobia to discredit Obama is shameful;  From Our Readers Local Citizens Speak Out On Issues
LENGTH: 451 words

To the editor: A letter printed in the September 28 edition of the Sun & News titled “Who is running America?” which was critical of President Obama is riddled with numerous fallacies about Islam.
The Qur’an encourages freedom of thought and good relations with people of various persuasions, not conversion through force nor wanton violence against any religious group. The Qur’an clearly says in chapter 2, verse 256, “Let there be no compulsion in religion, for right guidance is clear from error.” It also says in chapter 5, verse 32 that whoever kills a soul is like killing all of humankind and whoever saves a life is like saving humanity.
A cursory reading of the Qur’an will also show that the vast majority of verses provide spiritual inspiration, parables and stories of prophets such as Abraham, Moses and Jesus Christ. Few verses in the Qur’an are of legalistic nature such as avoiding consumption of pork and alcohol to inheritance rules. Sharia, which means path towards faithfulness, is not a strict codex of laws, which the author misrepresents, nor are American Muslims lobbying to have Islam become the law of the land.
Furthermore, that President Obama, a Christian, has surrounded himself with Muslim Brotherhood members is an unfounded Islamophobic meme. Huma Abedin, for instance, who was an aide to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and wife to Anthony Weiner, who is Jewish, passed strict security clearances in order to have her job and served our country with honor. Congressman Michelle Bachman, R-Minnesota, who launched the vile attach against Abdein was condemned by members of her own party including Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senator John McCain from Arizona.
Religious liberty is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court recognizes figures with religious affiliation including Prophet Muhammad in the chamber as enlightened people who influenced our jurisprudence. America by virtue of it being a nation of immigrants continues to be shaped by groups of varying ethnicities and religions.
Our country also has a history of certain groups being maligned based upon religious affiliation. Catholic, Jews and Mormons have had their faiths smeared by conspiracy theories that they had grand schemes to subvert American law. It is shameful that many have not learned from history and resort to broad-brush portrayals of American Muslims, which are inaccurate.
I hope that we can rise to a higher level of discourse about the issues that challenge us as Americans without demonizing fellow Americans, including American Muslims, in the process.
Dawud Walid, Executive Director Council on American-Islamic Relations -Michigan Southfield

Obama, Jay-Z, and curbing the culture of violence

MAY 21, 2013, 12:00 PM 

Obama, Jay-Z, and curbing the culture of violence

  • BY  

    A Pew Research report shows that American gun homicide rates dropped  49 percent in 2010 from their 1993 peak.

    Though the black homicide rate also declined, blacks still constitute fifty-five percent of homicide victims though only making up 13 percent of the population.  Blacks, like other ethnic groups, are the primary killers of one another.

    As I believe that there should be mandatory background checks for the sale of all firearms, even by private owners, and that there should be a ban on citizens having 75-100 round ammo drums, I also know that most murders are not due to assault weapons.  I also know that we cannot legislate ourselves out of murdering each other.

    First Lady Michelle Obama, a gun control advocate, recently urged black youth to seek education instead of desiring to be “a baller or a rapper.”  This was good advice given that the grossly materialistic and misogynistic culture of hip hop fuels the culture of violence in the black community.  Ironically, the president and First Lady are cozy with Jay-Z, who became a multi-millionaire rapping about toting guns, selling dope and exaggerating the importance of materialism.

    Legislation cannot fix the epidemic of murder within Black America – only a cultural shift can.  There is too much acceptance of anti-social behaviors, which glorify violence.  Much of this has been pushed by the black entertainers though they are not alone in disseminating filth.

    There needs to be a call to sanity in the black community away from the culture of death.  If the First Family disassociated itself from this culture instead of palling around with a gangsta rapper, it would be a great start.

Deeper conversation needed regarding the Fiasco fiasco

Deeper conversation needed regarding the Fiasco fiasco


Social media has been abuzz after Lupe Fiasco was escorted off stage after spitting politically charged lyrics at an inauguration celebration event on Sunday in Washington, D.C.

Fiasco’s politicized lyrical content did not focus on what Obama acolytes are currently challenging, such as domestic gun control and those who try to block “marriage equality.”  Rather, Fiasco read lyrics from his song “Words I Never Said,” which are critical of President Obama’s foreign policy pertaining to state sanctioned violence.

At the performance, Fiasco rhymed:

Gaza strip was getting bombed, Obama didn’t say sh*t

That’s why I ain’t vote for him, next one either

I’m a part of the problem, my problem is I’m peaceful

And I believe in the people.


Fiasco has also been very critical of the current U.S. drone program, which lacks transparency as to how persons are placed on extra-judicial kill lists as well as the high number of civilian casualties that have resulted from strikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia.

The organizers of the event obviously knew of Fiasco’s views and were imprudent to have invited him to perform at the inauguration celebration.  We can also question the timing and location of Fiasco making such a political statement.  What I’ve not seen much on social media and blogs, however, are harder discussions about deeper moral issues related to this incident.

First, why are there so many political progressives, who are vocal on domestic gun control and “marriage equality” that give the Obama administration a pass on its current drone program?  If President George W. Bush had a secret kill list that resulted in so many casualties of women and children, many of them would be up in arms.  This is partisanship and a good dose of identity politics to boot.

Second, would hip-hop music fans, who are dissing Fiasco about his bad timing and his “hating on Obama” be equally as outraged if a rapper was at an inauguration celebration talking about how much marijuana he smokes and how many “hoes” he’s “smashing?”  I dare to say no, because the culture of decadence is accepted more by hip-hop fans in this age than lyrics that question the political status quo and business as usual.

Third, given that this controversy was on the eve of MLK Day and the day in which President Obama ceremonially swore in on MLK’s bible, would MLK support current day American militarism and her current drone program?  I think that he would not at all.   In fact, I think that he would challenge those who claim to uphold his mantle that have been silent on these issues during the Obama years.

The fiasco pertaining to Fiacso being booted during his D.C. performance should prompt us to have deeper conversations is all that I’m saying.

Dawud Walid

Dawud Walid is currently the Executive Director for the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI), which is a branch of America’s largest advocacy and civil rights organization for Muslims in America. Walid is a preacher of the Islamic religion, who delivers weekly sermons at various mosques throughout Michigan.


Convince us that Obama is different from Romney

Convince us that Obama is different from Romney
• Sun, May 27, 2012

By Dawud Walid

President Barack Obama is on tenuous ground with many activists within the social justice realm, which may cost him politically in this year’s election.

Many have stated the alternative to Obama, Mitt Romney, is basically the “greater of two evils;” thus, we should all rally behind the president. 

My response to them is, please articulate three substantial policies Obama has executed — not simply rhetoric — that clearly distinguish him from Romney. My reservations stem from the following policies, among others. 

Obama, who chides Wall Street banks, recently praised JPMorgan as “one of the best-managed banks there is” on the very same day a Department of Justice (DOJ) employee leaked that the bank was under criminal investigation for losing some $3 billion. 

Moreover, Obama had at least 19 meetings with the CEO of JPMorgan, including a private dinner with him in the Oval Office. So, even though he chided Wall Street after he stated the bank bailout program “was necessary,” Obama continues to flirt with the same institutions that are involved in our homeforeclosure crisis, which the Occupy Movement and local clergy, including myself, have protested against. 

Based upon his relationship with Wall Street bankers, I am not sure how he can, in good conscience, say anything about Romney and Bain Capital.

Secondly, when it comes to militarism, Obama is not much different from Romney. Even though the Pentagon was forced to cut its military budget back some in comparison to military spending increases since 9/11, both Obama and Romney are for the projection of American power for the purposes of supporting military strategic assets as well as corporate interests. Furthermore, both support the usage of military and CIA assassination drones that have killed countless civilians in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. In fact, Obama is the first president in American history to kill American citizens through a drone attack per executive order without those citizens being indicted of a single crime much less asked to turn themselves in. And I can write an entire piece simply on the scheduled “troop withdrawal” in Afghanistan.

Even on the gay marriage issue, in which Obama appears to be different in substance from Romney, he is not in favor of making “marriage equality” a federal issue. Obama parrots the conservative talking point of states’ rights when he says gay marriage should be left up to each state even though the DOJ is currently challenging South Carolina and Texas’ voter ID laws, laws that Romney supports under the same states’ rights argument. 

There are other issues from supporting charter schools, which drain resources from our public schools to unconditional support of Israel, which illegally occupies Palestinian and Syrian land, which I see no substantive difference between Obama and Romney. There are many people like me out here, who feel the same. If anyone can articulate major substantive differences, perhaps our minds can be changed. As of now though, I don’t see much difference between Obama and Bush, or Romney.

Dawud Walid is a Muslim preacher and prayer leader in Metro Detroit and board member of the Metropolitan Detroit Interfaith Workers Rights Committee.

Guest commentary: Executed without due process|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|s

Guest commentary: Executed without due process



The recent extrajudicial executions of two American citizens in Yemen have set a troubling precedent and seemingly mimic the actions of regimes we have long criticized.

Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan both advocated wanton violence against civilians, including their own countrymen, which is counter to the teachings of all faiths and values of every civil society. Indeed, I have given sermons and lectures in mosques throughout metro Detroit specifically denouncing the repugnant rhetoric of al-Awlaki while warning youths that he was not a legitimate scholar.

And there is no doubt that al-Awlaki gave inspiration to Nigerian national Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who attempted to bring down an airplane over Detroit. As troubling as al-Awlaki’s speech was, however, his targeted killing without due process is problematic.

The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution states that no person shall answer for a capital crime without having been indicted by a grand jury to then face the charges levied. Given that al-Awlaki was never indicted or charged with one crime, nor was he on a battlefield actively engaged in combat, it appears that his constitutional rights were violated.

The Obama administration could have at the least indicted him and Khan, and then demanded that they turn themselves in to the nearest U.S. embassy before ordering a hit against them.

The sad irony of these executions without due process is that these American citizens were never charged before being sentenced to death via executive order in which no evidence (because it’s supposedly “secret evidence”) was presented, much less a transparent process, yet a Nigerian citizen who attempted to kill innocent Americans is detained and attending court proceedings in Detroit. If due process is granted to foreign nationals, then it surely should have been granted to citizens.

Our president ran on a platform of re-establishing the rule of law by closing the Guantanamo Bay detention center and ending torture, yet these extrajudicial killings went much further than his predecessor did in flouting the Constitution. Such actions are not only a threat to the spirit of the Constitution, but also jeopardize our national security.

U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, recently said, regarding al-Awlaki’s and Khan’s executions: “The president wants to spread American values around the world but continues to do great damage to them here at home, appointing himself judge, jury and executioner by presidential decree.”

Al-Qaida’s recruitment is not based on the false notion that terrorists hate us because of our freedoms. Al-Qaida intermingles perverse interpretations of religion with claims that our nation oppresses and kills people in the developing world while practicing political hypocrisy. In essence, al-Qaida recruits people to commit illegal, illegitimate acts of terror by exploiting potentially legitimate grievances about our nation’s actions. Pointing out this reality is in no way making al-Qaida’s actions legitimate, nor does it suggest moral equivalency of our nation’s shortcomings with their acts of terrorism. Simply put, such assassinations fit perfectly into the propaganda narrative of those who seek to harm us.

The so-called one good exception to the rule has the potential to open the door to other exceptions, which could send our nation down a dangerous path. I fear the precedent recently set may have started us down this path already.

As a nation, we must demand that all American citizens receive due process under the law, be they bad guys or not. God only knows whose name could be added next if we do not demand this now.

Dawud Walid is executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations — Michigan.