American Islamic Congress Launches International Essay Contest on Civil Rights in the Middle East

10 Dec, '05

“Dream Deferred Essay Contest” open to American and Middle Eastern youth under age 26; Celebrity judges for contest include Saad Eddin Ibrahim and Gloria Steinem.

CAMBRIDGE, MA – The American Islamic Congress (AIC) today unveils the “Dream Deferred Essay Contest” on civil rights in the Middle East. The contest, which offers prizes up to $2,000 for top essays on the importance of promoting civil rights, is open to Americans and Middle Easterners under the age of 26.

The AIC is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting interfaith understanding and human rights. Its regional partners in launching the contest include the Cairo-based Ibn Khaldoun Center and the Tharwa Project, a minority rights initiative founded in Damascus.

The essay contest, which takes its name from a poem by Langston Hughes, is the idea of Tharwa Project co-founder Ammar Abdulhamid. He will officially announce the contest during a presentation to students at Harvard University this evening.

“We need to mobilize a new generation of thinkers and leaders in the Middle East,” Abdulhamid said. “This essay contest is a way to provide incentive for youth to share their ideas for promoting individual liberty and tolerance. We are asking young people to share their frustrations and their dreams, and to stand up for individual rights.”

The contest was formally launched to Middle Eastern audiences by AIC executive director Zainab Al-Suwaij at a conference of female human rights activists in Jordan. Al-Suwaij told conference participants from across the Arab world that effective partnership is key to advancing civil rights.

“Middle Eastern reformers need support from American activists,” Al-Suwaij noted. “We are encouraging young Americans to think about how they can use their freedom to help people their own age in the Middle East. We need to extend our hands in support – and young Americans can play an important role.”

The official website for the contest is Essays must address one of several questions posted on the site and can be submitted in English, Arabic, French, or Farsi. The deadline is February 28, 2006. A diverse panel of celebrity judges – including Gloria Steinem and civil rights veteran Normal Hill – will select the winning essays.

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  1. anonymous says:

    Another Future-Failure I SEE!.

    “We need to mobilize a new generation of thinkers and leaders in the Middle East,” Abdulhamid said. “This essay contest is a way to provide incentive for youth to share their ideas for promoting individual liberty and tolerance. We are asking young people to share their frustrations and their dreams, and to stand up for individual rights.”–from the post.
    Well, New generation of thinkers and leaders? who are basically based on the same ideas the former ones had such as Jamal Abdulnasser, and the rest we know. I only see another failure nothing new will come to the surface. Thanks for the website Mahmood, I will try to look it up, Maybe even join them? And write my essay on my views about Civil Rights and how it should be. I think they will end up with a conclusion that I might be a terrorist! or maybe they will think I am insane. I will read on that more, I hope I write something meaningful that’s only if I join them.

  2. anonymous says:

    American Islamic Congress Launches International Essay Contest on Civil Rights in the Middle East

    Yes to a New generation of thinkers and leaders! As a 19 year old I have faith on the up coming generation. I will be writing my essay on civil rights and my opinion on igorants / insanity in our society today. Thanks Mahmood.

  3. anonymous says:

    American Islamic Congress Launches International Essay Contest on Civil Rights in the Middle East

    I feel inspired and patriotic every time I see a car’s back bumper sticker featuring an American flag stating, “Freedom Isn’t Free!� The moral clarity of those words rings as true as the Liberty Bell. Those Americans that do not fathom the significance of the motto Freedom Isn’t Free suffer from the very problematic “victim/slave mentality,� which ultimately will become a future reality should more citizens not heed the simple message the sage language conveys. Yes it indeed bears repeating, “Freedom Is Not Free!� Its acquisition from King George’s England involved struggle, its maintenance throughout the first two and a quarter centuries of our Great Republic required sacrifice and its continuation demands perseverance. Wise people fully realize that struggle, sacrifice and perseverance are the vital characteristics of freedom, democracy and independence.
    In the late 1930s complaisant European nations were lulled into the jaws of the very dangerous “victim/slave mentality.� Weak democracies tried placating and accommodating the tyrannical proponents of the Communist, Socialist and Fascist ideologies and Europe soon found itself in jeopardy with maniacs like Stalin, Hitler and Mussolini threatening the existence of taken-for-granted freedom and human rights. Thanks to the intervention of the United States Hitler and Mussolini were defeated (despite incredible adversity) and Europe was salvaged from the scourge of Fascism. But Nazi Fascism did not go away meekly. Its defeat required intensive struggle, sacrifice and perseverance with over 50 million military and civilian deaths occurring during the widespread devastation.
    Yes, during War World II the social axiom “Freedom Isn’t Free!� was definitely validated and verified. Millions of innocent people became “victims and/or slaves.� But nearly fifty years removed from the terrible Holocaust today’s gullible anti-war idealists can’t logically fathom how and why it is easier to prevent a madman like Hitler (or Saddam Hussein) from threatening our existence than to eliminate his or her power once the madman gets on a conquest roll. “Prevention is always much better than cure!�
    Throughout its history the United States has selflessly liberated more people from tyranny than any other civilization and America truly represents the greatest force for good the world has ever known. And following World War II U.S. benevolence financed the rebuilding of Europe and during the Reagan Presidency the world witnessed the decline of the Soviet Empire and the relinquishment of Russian Communism dominating Eastern Europe as democratic capitalism emerged triumphant over its very formidable totalitarian rival.
    And even today America has liberated fifty million people in Afghanistan and in Iraq from the Taliban and from Saddam Hussein’s cruel rule but despite the fact that the seeds of democracy have been sown in neighboring Lebanon and in Palestine many critics abroad and at home cynically insist that the U.S. is to blame for conflict throughout the world. These “blame-America-first� skeptics assert that when New York City’s Twin Towers were destroyed on September 11th, 2001 “the chickens came home to roost!� These misguided pundits indeed are modern-day possessors of the “Victim/Slave Mentality,� for if and when a majority of Americans think and believe as they do that certainly will be when this great nation will be vulnerable to takeover from dictators, from repressive foreign ideologies and from Fascist Jihadists. These contemporary anti-war Apologists do not (and will never) understand the maxim, “Freedom isn’t Free!�
    The anti-war Apologists in Europe and those in America inadvertently align themselves with the Arab Press and with the Arab Street by proclaiming that Al-Qaeda and its related cells only attack institutions and people in the United States and in Great Britain because the two allies have a military presence in Iraq. The popular falsehood that the anti-war faction supports is that the Jihadists will only leave the U.S. and England alone when our forces jointly pull out of Iraq. Don’t give the “power of discretion� to anarchists. Yet the naïve possessors of the “Victim/Slave Mentality� don’t realize that the crazed Jihadists really want our militaries out of Iraq so that “the enemy� can organize an Islamic Revolution, turn Iraq into a post-war 1990s-type Afghanistan with a Taliban-type regime in command, reinsert a Baathist-type government in Iraq with the nefarious goals of unifying the entire Middle East Arab block against the West and then systematically extorting Europe and America with hundred-dollar-a-barrel oil.
    The Apologists must comprehend once and for all that “Freedom Is Not Free!� and that the several thousand American soldiers that have lost their lives in Iraq have not died in vain. (Please remember that over 450,000 American troops had died in WWII). Those brave troops currently serving in the U.S. military believe in their mission and fully know that true freedom involves struggle, sacrifice and perseverance. The easy-way-out Apologist “Victim/Slave Mentality� has no vision of what the world would be like without the United States or what the future would be like if the United States did not take the leadership role in preventing Jihadism and anarchy from spreading their poisonous tentacles around the globe. The last thing that radical Islamic fundamentalists want is the establishment of democracies (like those being instituted in Afghanistan and Iraq) to give Middle East Muslims freedom and individual rights.
    Let’s analyze in a time-line exactly what the philosophy of ignoring the terrorists and hoping that their insidious cancer will cure itself has recently accomplished. On February 26, 1993 during the Clinton Administration radical Islamic extremists targeted the Twin Towers with a truck bomb that exploded, killing six innocent “VICTIMS� and injuring a thousand others. Attorney General Janet Reno called the reprehensible blatant act of terrorism “a criminal act.� Without having their barbarous evil deed avenged (again during the Clinton Administration) Al-Qaeda terrorists on August 7, 1998 blew up U.S. embassies in Kenya and in Tanzania killing 224 people (including 12 Americans) and injuring 5,000 others. Then again during the Clinton Administration Al Qaeda proponents in Yemen drove a boat into the U.S.S. Cole killing 17 American sailors. And who could forget the infamous Blackhawk Down debacle in Mogadishu, Somalia? Bill Clinton’s Administration did little to counteract the unwarranted attacks merely treating them as “criminal acts� and not as “terroristic acts of war against the United States of America.�
    Then of course on September 11, 2001 the Twin Towers came down and over three thousand innocent civilian “VICTIMS� perished. President George W. Bush instantly declared war on terrorism. But U.S. Apologists believe and state that the terroristic acts are isolated angry Arab reactions to U.S. foreign policy and that America is to blame for their implementation. Get real now you anti-war dissenters! Sometimes war is necessary to stop tyranny, to thwart terrorism, and to keep Americans “FREE.� But liberal elements of the U.S. Press have aligned with the Arab Press and the Arab Street by condemning the “War on Terrorism� as being “Bush inspired.� But this War on Terror has gotten Usama Bin Laden out of his comfort zone and hiding in caves and safe houses and it has gotten Saddam Hussein out of power and into U.S. custody awaiting trial as a diabolical mass murderer of hundreds of thousands of innocent Kurds. Please remember from the past that because of greedy dictators like Hitler and Mussolini that over 50 million people had needlessly died in World War II. And if Americans don’t want to see their children or grandchildren become “VICTIMS� of terrorists or “SLAVES� to dictators, then they should wholeheartedly support the War on Terror and not foolishly give aid and comfort to this country’s enemies.
    The resident U.S. Apologists argue that terrorists will continue to punish the U.S. and Great Britain by hitting famous landmarks and/or soft targets and that the suicide bombers and assassins will continue to reward France and Germany by favoring those countries and not committing attacks in Berlin, Frankfurt, Paris and Marseille. And conversely those same anti-war advocates demonstrate through their quixotic rhetoric that they are willfully conceding power to our declared enemies by empowering terrorists, who do not represent in any way, shape or form any organized legitimate government.
    The terrorists are emboldened when they can commit acts of death and destruction by destroying trains and killing people in Madrid and then consequently influencing the outcome of Spanish elections. The terrorists are further emboldened when they can interrupt the G-8 Conference in Scotland and simultaneously indirectly showing that the 2012 Olympics in London could be in harms way should the British government not accede to their militant demands to vacate Iraq.
    And on the home front the resident U.S. Apologists (and anti-war bleeding hearts) are showing the same apathy to danger that the populations of Europe had exercised prior to Hitler’s plot to dominate Europe and to threaten freedom all over the world. The Apologists are ignoring the underlying truth in the statement “Freedom Isn’t Free!� and history attests (through its habit of repeating itself) that nations that don’t oppose tyranny and Fascism soon either become a “victim� of it or a “slave� to it!
    And now during a critical time of crisis some of America’s formerly trusted allies that had been liberated from the WWII “victim/slave� existence are turning their backs on the United States. But the USA is not deterred because there’s something marvelously American about mustering up sufficient courage and fortitude for standing up for and doing what is right and for doing what is necessary in order to confront imminent national and international challenges. While the American and the Arab Press are prattling about inhumane treatment of “prisoners� (a poor euphemism for “war combatants�) at Abu Ghraib and at Guantanimo Bay, the prevalent anti-war “victim/slave mentality� wants to protect the civil rights of terrorists that are bent on destroying our civilization when the captured terrorists aren’t even U.S. citizens protected by the U.S. Constitution and its First Ten Amendments. And when told this salient fact, the anti-war sophists switch gears and maintain that the “prisoners� deserve Geneva Convention rights even though they don’t represent any country or army and don’t wear military uniforms but merely desire to eliminate and exterminate all aspects of Western Civilization.
    But despite the lack of support from France, from Russia and from Germany, the United States wisely refuses to legitimize avowed enemies of this country and contrary to sane reason the naïve Apologists will continue equivocating their talking-points that terrorists are entitled to fair trials in courts of law when their prime objective is to eradicate all facets of Western law and order. The anti-war bleeding hearts won’t be satisfied until they themselves are either blown up or become “Victims and/or Slaves� to lunatic anarchists. But then in the final analysis it will be too late for the Apologists to moralize, to politicize, to prevaricate and to give moral equivalency to the enemy because their freedom to oppose will have been abruptly extinguished.
    Most European countries have been experiencing zero population growth so to satisfy the demand for low-paying jobs France and Germany have aggressively imported large Arab populations that have not been thoroughly assimilated into their cultures. The French and the German governments don’t want to antagonize the already alienated Arabs so their option-of-choice has been to tolerate the minority residents, many of whom listen weekly in mosques to the inflammatory diatribes of Muslim clerics that espouse the decline and fall of Western democratic nations.
    But most practical Americans grimly recognize that tough times and a determined enemy require struggle, sacrifice (in lives and money) along with steadfast perseverance. Terrorists must be ferreted out in the U.S. and abroad and Muslim leaders must show the courage to denounce their clandestine activities and to help authorities identify militants and radicals. Hate speech extolling anarchy and violence does not constitute free speech! And when the Apologists cry out that the rights of these “suspected criminals� are being jeopardized, then the sane majority should stand together in unity and volley back with conviction, “The rights of the majority must prevail for the welfare of our country. These demented people being identified are not suspected criminals; they are suspected enemies-at-war with the United States.�
    The terrorist bombers of today have much in common with the Japanese kamikaze pilots during the dying days of World War II. Their’ extreme willingness to die crashing airplanes into battleships (while taking along as many Americans as they could) only confirms the fact that the martyrs had accepted in their minds that the defeat of Imperial Japan was imminent. The present-day Islamic radicals realize that the Taliban, the Baathists and other repressive Arab regimes will eventually totter and fall once democracy takes hold in Afghanistan and in Iraq. That is why the terrorists are committing these desperate acts. The fanatics know that their time is just about over and that the sand in their hourglasses is rapidly diminishing.
    But the vocal Apologists want the USA to fail in Iraq while the Bush Administration is directly staring into victory’s face. The Apologists all share the fatal “victim/slave mentality,� for that tragedy is what will surely happen to the USA, France, England and Germany should America falter in its resolve. Then America would sometime in the future fall prey to a newly appeared treacherous dictator with designs of conquering the world or fall prey to a radical predatory ideology determined to snuff out our revered human rights. That’s precisely why “Freedom Isn’t Free� and that’s exactly why the preservation of liberty, independence, and civil rights essentially need struggle, sacrifice and perseverance, three vital characteristics that the Apologists sadly lack and shirk.
    The next major disaster performed by desperate terrorists might (in comparison) make the Twin Towers destruction seem like a minor event. The fanatics avariciously desire to get their hands on chemical, on biological and on atomic weapons capable of killing thousands of Americans. It really doesn’t matter to them that these targeted people are ordinary civilians with ordinary families. Their wicked goal is to see Manhattan, Washington DC, Chicago, Philadelphia or Los Angeles totally obliterated. We cannot allow this to happen even though our solution might endanger the rights of “suspected war criminals� that think your neighborhood is their battlefield. If the anti-war “victim/slave mentality� should ever become the majority opinion in America, then the lyrics of the rock group Kansas would become prophetic truth, “All we are is dust in wind!�
    Let’s be wary and vigilant and not permit horrific catastrophe to happen! Wake up all you American Apologists while you still have precious breath in your lungs to do your pathetic apologizing! It’s now time for all Americans to openly acknowledge that Freedom Isn’t Free and that these dire times require the tried and true virtues of struggle, sacrifice and perseverance.

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