November 26, 2003 Special Dispatch No. 616

President Bush's Appointee to Commission on International Religious Freedom, Prof. Khaled Abou Al-Fadl, Warns Against Reelecting Bush

November 26, 2003
Egypt | Special Dispatch No. 616

Professor Khaled Abou Al-Fadl,[1] originally of Egypt, was appointed by President George W. Bush to the Commission on International Religious Freedom, where he is the only Muslim member. Recently he gave an interview to the Egyptian government weekly October in which he strongly criticized the American president. The following are excerpts from the interview: [2]

'Bush is a Religious Fundamentalist like Former Colonialists in Muslim Countries'

Question: "What is the truth about the connection between the Islamic organizations in America and the American government, today and in the recent past?"

Prof. Abou Al-Fadl: "Unfortunately, because of shortsightedness and ignorance, the Islamic organizations helped Bush reach the White House. I met with many leaders of these organizations and I told them that I have known Bush well since he was governor of Texas, where I live, and I am familiar with his bad policy, which does not bode well.

"During the election campaign, Bush gave the Islamic leaders a certain status… They lost their equilibrium. They did not listen – not only to me, but also to someone like Ralph Nader, who was a presidential candidate of Arab origin. He met with them and all but pleaded with them not to vote for Bush. He all but kissed their hands so they wouldn't. We told them that he [Bush] is a Christian religious fundamentalist and that the group around him, of the likes of Paul Wolfowitz and others, hold the same beliefs that accompanied colonialism's entrance to the Muslim countries in the 19th century."

'Bush Makes Continued American Aid in the World Contingent Upon Permitting Missionary Activity'

"When Bush came to the presidency, there was a revolution in American policy. He brought in religious Christian people. In the field, Bush permitted missionaries into Iraq before medicines. He is the first president in the history of America whose policy includes supporting Christian missionaries and applying pressure through them on some countries. He links them with continued American aid to some countries.

"Bush says that he respects Islam and wants to spread democratic standards in the Islamic countries. When we ask him what exactly these democratic standards that he calls for are, he has no answer, as if Islam was permitted to exist only provided that it was Islam according to American standards. I say also that unfortunately, there were at first some hesitations in the American administration regarding the raid on Afghanistan, but when it was carried out, it cost much less than they expected, and this spurred them on, in a way reminiscent of intoxication and drunkenness, to start thinking of invading Iraq, Syria, and Iran, and of changing the map of the region."

'20% of U.S. Soldiers in Iraq Suffer from Mental Conditions'

Question: "What is American public opinion on what is happening in Iraq?"

Prof. Abu Al-Fadl: "In Congress, I heard testimony by soldiers and officers regarding the mental illness and nervous conditions that have struck the American soldiers in Iraq. An officer who reported in his testimony on disorders that harmed soldiers [said] that this loss was greater than the military loss; the disorders [struck] 20% of the soldiers. Some of them were panic-stricken in their sleep and wet themselves, not only because of the [Iraqi] resistance, but also because of the lies of the government that had convinced the soldiers that the Iraqis would greet them with flowers…

"In several articles I wrote for The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, I predicted what would happen. The White House wrote to me and asked me: 'How did you know?!' I told them, from analysis, from studying history, and from political science, I knew that this is what would happen. [I told them,] 'You were misled by the situation in Afghanistan, but the resistance will increase and if you intervene in Syria and Iran, even double the sum you are requesting [from Congress] will not meet your needs, and the Shi'ites will rise up against you.'"

Question: "Does this mean that the danger of invasion has passed for Syria and Iran?"

Prof. Abu Al-Fadl: "It [would be] inaccurate to say this… If Bush manages to remain for a second term, the considerations will change, because then he won't care about his political future and he can gamble on an erroneous policy.

"The changed situation led the president's advisors to suggest to him that Israel play a role in the countries that America wants to invade or whose regime it wants to change. On this matter, I told the State Department and President Bush's representative [whom I met] in the White House: 'If Israel attacks Syria and Iran, the entire Islamic world will say that it is doing so with American approval and cooperation, even if America disavows it.' They thanked me and said that they would examine the matter…"

Question: "On the personal level, do you think that you have an influence on American policy?"

Prof. Abu Al-Fadl: "…I had an influential role in the past, and I even got to the point of determining the [U.S.] deployment plan of withdrawal from Iraq. I did not win that battle, but I managed to obtain a promise from the American government that it would withdraw soon."

Question: "You speak as if you are a one-man pressure group on the American administration."

Prof. Abu Al-Fadl: "I have the authority and promises from the American administration that what I say is taken into account, and that it is of interest. I do not waste my time. I told them this and I added: 'Either the promises you are giving me will be realistic, or everything is a lie, and I'll quit and go back to my academic post.'"[3]


[1] Professor Khaled Abou Al-Fadl is currently a Visiting Professor at Yale Law School and a Full Professor of law at the UCLA School of Law.

[2] October (Egypt), October 19, 2003.

[3] Responding to a question regarding "other Islamic voices in America," Al-Fadl said: "We in America are harmed greatly by the likes of Fouad Ajami, who presents himself as a Lebanese citizen, and many other secular individuals present themselves as if they wanted to purge the Arab world of Islam. They cause us damage, because they present a deviant, erroneous, and distorted picture of the Islamic states…"

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