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The Center for the Study of Islam Democracy

Obama Told to Support Mideast Democracy

As US President Barack Obama readies to fly to Egypx for a long-awaited speech to the Arab and Muslim world, human rights activists, experts and politicians are asking him to remain faithful to promoting rights and democracy in the region.

“We believe that it would be a terrible mistake if the new administration, in its attempx to distance itself from the failed policies of the Bush administration, would go back to the previously tried and failed policies of supporting oppressive regimes and dictators,” Radwan Masmoudi, President of the Center for the Study of Islam & Democracy (CSID), told
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In an open letter, more than 1,550 human rights activists, experts and politicians are urging Obama to make the case for democracy and human rights during his upcoming speech, to be delivered from Cairo on June 4.

“We wanted to demonstrate that there is wide-ranging support in both the Washington DC policy community as well as the Muslim world for a more pro-active US engagement in support of substantive political reform,” Shadi Hamid, Director of Research, Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED), told IOL.

Democracy, Islamists

Masmoudi said the aim is to encourage the Obama administration to press hard for promoting democracy and human rights in the volatile region. “The peoples of the region, especially the youth who represent a majority of the population, want to have a voice in determining their own future and in electing their rulers and holding them accountable,” he told IOL.

“We also wanted to emphasize in the letter that moderate Islamist parties must be allowed and encouraged to participate in the political process in their countries, and that real democracy can never be developed or sustained by excluding the largest and most popular political or religious movements in the region.”

Neil Hicks, the Director of International Programs at Human Rights First, says people in the region will be closely watching the events of the next few weeks when Obama meet many leaders from the region.

“If people in the region come to believe that the US government is interested in promoting greater freedom and democracy for them, then the reputation of the US in the Muslim world will improve,” believes Hicks, the director of International Programs at Human Rights First.

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