Obama: My Plan To Bring Muslims Into Our National Fabric
Special Guest Columnist President Barack Obama Describes His Ambitious Policy Initiatives Following The Identification Of Terror Suspect Jihadi John
By GUEST COLUMNIST, PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA
Published February 27, 2015
I am writing today to speak to the American people about terrorism in the wake of the discovery of the identity of the so-called “Jihadi John.” The best defense we have against terrorism is that it never is planned and never attempted. Although Jihadi John, whose real name we now know is Mohammed Emwazi, was not an American, he does come from another prosperous, English-speaking country – England. Mr. Emwazi also had a relatively pleasant upbringing, we are told. He had a middle class home and a high quality university education.
Despite all these things, Mr. Emwazi still felt alienated by Western society. He still felt antagonized. He still felt different. The desire to lash out only comes from alienation, and alienation cannot come without there being active alienators. Those alienators are we.
I am pledging to our Muslim, our Christian, our Jewish and our Hindu citizens and to our citizens of all other religions that I will not allow this alienation to occur in our country. As I have said so many times, this is not a problem with the Muslim religion. The Muslim religion is a religion of peace. This is a problem of communities not making enough effort to reach out and come together.
During the past 24 hours, I have been meeting with my advisors including my Muslim outreach coordinator, Kareem Abdul-Raheem, and State Department representative Marie Harf about how we can make Muslims in the U.S. feel more a part of the fabric of our society and to never, ever feel pushed aside.
After much serious consideration, we have settled on a number of steps that we believe our country must take to avoid the same mistakes that the United Kingdom has made. All of these steps shall be designed for the betterment of our entire country, not just Muslims. Indeed, only by bringing Muslims closer to the rest of us can we achieve true diversity.
In the coming weeks, I will be issuing an executive order that will achieve the following:
· Higher Education: Build our nation’s first National Muslim University to instill in Muslims a bond between their faith and their national heritage. Our country has over one hundred Christian denominational colleges and universities but not one Muslim college or university. This is not in the spirit of our history as a diverse nation of immigrants;
· Employment Outreach: Muslims represent just .5-percent of our federal employees. Our intelligence community, in particular, has fewer than 500 Muslim professionals. We need to broaden Muslim representation in our government generally. This is why I will be ordering an equal employment plan to boost Muslim employment up to their proportion of the population. We will begin by furloughing 100,000 federal employees whose positions shall be filled by qualified Muslim applicants;
· Muslims In Media: In the U.S., we have been inundated with unfavorable images of Muslims in popular culture. This greatly frays the bonds between Muslims and the rest of our national community. We need a program to improve the images of Muslims on both television and the internet and stop demeaning and hurtful portrayals of Muslims. This must be done through the FCC and our public networks. Penalties for those who needlessly offend Muslims or their faith must be harsh and swift.
· End Hate Speech: We treasure free speech in this country, but free speech does not include the freedom to commit hate. Almost every other Western nation has imposed legal restrictions on hate speech. If we do not do the same, we could be producing our own “Jihadi John” in the near future. I will use my power as chief executive to impose restrictions on hateful, anti-Muslim speech in both print and on the internet.
· Scientific Achievement: Few Americans know that hundreds of years ago before the Western world's Renaissance, Muslims were leaders in mathematics and even invented the concept of the number zero. We will establish a scholarship program that will honor this rich history by educating Muslims all over the globe in the aeronautical and astronomical sciences. This scholarship program will raise Muslim contributions to our achievements in space and bring us closer together here at home.
The people of the world now look to us, here, to be as decent, and as dignified, and as courageous as they are trying to be in their daily lives. They look to us to be the champions of diversity. At this crossroads, I can promise you that the United States of America will not turn away those chasing the American Dream no matter what their creed or religion. We are heirs to a proud legacy of religious and ethnic diversity and prepared to do what is necessary to secure that legacy for generations to come. I ask that you join us in this common mission, for today’s children and tomorrow’s.