Home | Return

Muslims urge Saddam to step down
By Anwar Iqbal UPI 
December 18, 2002


WASHINGTON, Dec. 18 (UPI) -- U.S. Muslims are urging Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to step down and save Iraq from another war, advocacy group spokesmen said Wednesday. Muslim groups also have urged President George W. Bush not to use the military option, as they say it will only increase the sufferings of Iraqi people.

"In the interest of innocent Iraqi citizens and in the interest of peace and stability in the Middle East, we are calling on Saddam Hussein to step down," said Maher Hathout, a senior adviser to the Muslim Public Affairs Council.

"But the Bush administration also needs to do its part in maintaining stability in the region by ruling out any kind of military action," he added. "It would only cause more death and suffering for the impoverished Iraqi people."

The demand for Saddam's resignation, initiated by MPAC, was also supported by other U.S.-based Muslim groups. "Most Muslims will support this demand. There's no love lost between Saddam and the Muslims," says Faiz Rehman, communications director for the American Muslim Council.

MPAC's Hussam Qutub says that the war will "radicalize a lot of youngsters in the region and increase support for people like (terrorist mastermind) Osama bin Laden." At its annual convention at Long Beach, Calif., on Saturday MPAC is also going to propose other options for solving the Iraqi conflict such as "elections under U.N. supervision." Rehman agrees. "I don't think we are looking for his ouster alone. My doubts are that somebody else will come in and we will have the same system."

He said he was not in a position to suggest an alternative "but the United States and other world powers that are seeking to remove Saddam should also have a plan for post-Saddam Iraq." MPAC, however, says that only "fair and free elections" can help resolve the Iraq dispute. Nihad Awad, executive director, Council on American-Islamic Relations, also supports the demand for a democratic change in Iraq but says that moves for removing Saddam should come from within the country

"Every nation needs freedom and democracy. ... That's true about Iraq too," said Awad.

"But if other countries intervene to bring a change, where does it end?"

Awad said that the democratic change has to be universal and "also has to come from inside the society, not outside." He opposed going to war to bring a change in Iraq. "We trust the U.N. inspectors to do their job. They then report to U.N. There should be no unilateral action without a mandate from the United Nations."

Awad said that there were other countries in the region, "such as Israel that have weapons of mass destruction. They, too, are a threat to peace in the region."