The John Gibson Show
JOHN GIBSON: Joining me now, is Ahmed Rehab of CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations. So Ahmed, it’s nice of you to join us, thank you very much.
AHMED REHAB: Thanks for having me John.
GIBSON: So who is it that American Muslims would like to see coming out of Iowa as winners?
REHAB: I got to be honest with you; I don’t think that there is a monolithic view coming out of the American Muslim community that I can speak for. It’s pretty diverse. I can tell you my personal view.
GIBSON: Yeah, I’d like to hear that. But, just, before you do, would you say Muslims are generally Democrats or Republicans?
REHAB: Here’s my personal perspective having observed history and kind of looked through it. Interestingly, Muslim Americans kind of started out being Republican and over the Bush administration swayed the other way. So right now, I would say the majority of American Muslims are pro-democrat more then pro-republican.
GIBSON: Okay, now of those democrats, let me ask you who your favorite Democrat is then?
REHAB: And again it’s my personal view, it doesn’t represent CAIR’s, but my having witnessed some of the presentations and debates, I’m leaning towards Obama.
GIBSON: Wouldn’t happen to have been his youthful Muslim experience would it?
REHAB: (Laughs) No to the contrary. That has nothing to do with it. As a matter of fact, I find it insulting that people would try to attack him with the claim that he is a Muslim. He is not. He’s a Christian and a proud one at that. I value his Christian traditions. It’s actually part of the reason why I find him valuable.
GIBSON: Well I know Muslims respect people of the book. But let’s not forget young Barrack was the step child of a Muslim father. He is the son of a Muslim father. His grandmother is Muslim and while living in Indonesia as a wee lad, a little kid I grant you that, he did register in school as a Muslim and you know played with Muslim kids.
REHAB: Yeah but you know, I don’t believe in the politics of identity and all of that does not endear him to me and it doesn’t handicap him as an option.
GIBSON: But he has said you know, one of my credentials is that I have experienced living overseas. Now, you know what he’s talking about is the time from when he’s about 10 years old.
REHAB: Right Right. But it isn’t about the fact that he has a Muslim grandmother. It’s about the fact that he has certain experience. So it’s irrelevant as to the identity of his ancestors.
GIBSON: Well, what is the experience?
REHAB: The experience is having interacted with a culture that you can move beyond setting aside in the minimalist character of fashion which a lot of other politicians tend to do which is a good thing.
GIBSON: What does that mean in English?
REHAB: Well what it means is, a lot of us talk about the Middle East and the Muslim World as this ridiculous cartoon character and we kind of, we don’t really understand the nuances that they’re people like us, that they have the good and bad and we kind of generalize and that doesn’t do us a service in our global policy.
GIBSON: Right, but I thought you just said it was a non-issue
REHAB: No his experience is an issue. The identity of his grandparents or his step-father is a non-issue. So you mentioned his experience. On that, I value that experience but if you ask me about the fact that he has Muslim ancestry, that is completely irrelevant to this.
GIBSON: Are you worried, in supporting Obama; are you worried that Hilary Clinton if she were the Democratic nominee and if she were the president, would be a bombing president?
REHAB: No, that isn’t my worry. Again, to me and this is where I divert from a lot of American Muslims. To me, the primary issues of concern are not foreign policy. They’re domestic issues.
GIBSON: Such as?
REHAB: Well such as health care, such as the politics of hope, such as equality and civil rights, and respect. That’s what I like about Obama; he presents to me the politics of hope. There’s this terrible aftertaste in my mouth after the Bush administration’s what I see to be abuses against your civil liberties and the sort of…
GIBSON: So you think Obama would not listen to terrorist phone calls?
REHAB: Well I would hope he does. GIBSON: You think Obama would not run a secret prison?
REHAB: No, I don’t think he would.
GIBSON: You think Obama would not waterboard Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?
REHAB: I don’t think he would. I don’t think most Americans who respect American values would.
GIBSON: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed revealed plans to attack the library tower in Los Angeles in the same way the twin towers were attacked. Three or four thousand people didn’t die because he had some water dribbled in his nose and that’s a problem?
REHAB: Well let me ask you a question.
REHAB: If you can extract this information from him by having a crook rape his daughter would you do so?
GIBSON: Well no.
REHAB: Thank you. So you do have limits as well. That’s good.
GIBSON: No but that’s the Saddam line in the sand. We don’t have rape rooms. And we don’t… (CROSSTALK) REHAB: We shouldn’t have torture ones either. That’s just as bad.
GIBSON: Well since when is waterboarding torture?
REHAB: Since before Cheney said it wasn’t.
GIBSON: Well I mean look, the guy gave up information in a minute and a half. He was not harmed. I am for it and that doesn’t mean that I am for rape rooms at all. Now, Ahmed who do you fear being elected?
GIBSON: Not McCain?
REHAB: No Giuliani more so. Giuliani to me is an extension of the policy mongering (unclear) and that whole culture we’ve seen in the past few years.
GIBSON: Have you heard his new ad?
REHAB: I have.
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GIBSON: What’s wrong with that Ahmed?
REHAB: It’s an apocalyptic Armageddon. There’s always been danger in the world. This isn’t new and so obviously every president has had to deal with danger. He’s not going to be the first one to do so. So it’s interesting that he’s trying to project this end of the world scenario that you know without me, danger and crisis is one step away. By the way, to my knowledge he didn’t prevent 9/11 from happening in his city. He just responded to it well, which I appreciate, but I don’t think he can take any credit for any type of anti-terrorist activity in the past. So I think he’s just banking on that.
GIBSON: Now, Ahmed before we go, who do you think Osama Bin Laden wants to win tonight?
REHAB: (Laughing) I have no idea. I don’t tend to mingle with the Bin Ladens of the world so your guess is as good as mine.
GIBSON: It’s just a projection of logic. I mean, for instance, my guess is he wants Ron Paul to win because Ron Paul’s an isolationist and Bin Laden can have his way with the world and Ron Paul won’t care.
REHAB: Alright fine. Since you asked the question I’ll do you and your audience a service of a response and I’m not being facetious or philosophical when I tell you that I honestly believe he would want a Giuliani to win because when Giuliani wins and our culture changes and our whole American way of life and the spirit of freedom changes and there’s fear that stifles our lives, that is when the Bin Ladens begin winning.
GIBSON: Ahmed have you ever been to New York?
REHAB: I go there every other week.
GIBSON: What’s the problem?
REHAB: With what?
GIBSON: New York.
REHAB: There’s no problem with New York that I see.
GIBSON: Giuliani made today’s New York.
REHAB: Well then Giuliani should run for mayor.
GIBSON: No, I mean that’s what we need in this country.
REHAB: Well New York does not have to deal with global affairs. New York is not going to declare war or deal with the war.
GIBSON: New York’s got a huge counterintelligence operation. Searches out terrorists.
REHAB: It’s not a state. I think you would agree it’s not a state. It’s not run by a president.
GIBSON: It’s bigger then most of the states he’s running in right now.
REHAB: It doesn’t have the same apparatus. I don’t think he is, it’s just my personal opinion. Many Muslims may disagree. I don’t speak for all Muslims. But I honestly think that the only reason why he’s running is because of this newfound popularity that almost smacked him in the face and surprised him right after 9/11. I don’t think he has any other credentials otherwise.
GIBSON: Ahmed Rehab thanks of CAIR, Council on American Islamic Relations. The last guy at CAIR’ll talk to me. Ahmed thanks very much.
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