Alhurra’s correspondent Khaled Khairy conducted a series of interviews with key members of Congress and other political leaders from both parties during the annual Kahlil Gibran Spirit of Humanity Awards Gala sponsored by the Arab American Institute Foundation. The event took place in Washington DC on Wednesday May 4, 2011. The interviewees included Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN), Congressman Charles Boustany (R-LA), and Indiana’s Republican governor, Mitch Daniels. During the interviews, the three officials discussed the death of Osama bin Laden and the recent Arab uprisings.
Congressman Keith Ellison commented on the death of Osama bin Laden, saying “I think the world is a safer place because he is not on the scene. I am not among those people who celebrate the death of any human being, but the philosophy he represented resulted in the death of many more than just the three thousand that he killed in the United States, [he also killed people in] Kenya, Tanzania, Pakistan and Iraq. Al Qaedaism is a pernicious ugly way of thinking that is a misrepresentation of Islam…He [Osama Bin Laden] is the number one defamer of Islam. While I don’t celebrate the death of any person, no matter how wicked they are, because only Allah judges, I am not sad that he is gone.” On the topic of releasing the pictures of Bin Laden after he was killed, he stated “I don’t think any pictures should be released that would unnecessarily inflame people. We don’t need more inflaming. We need more peace and calm. We need some repair. We need people to begin to recover the heal from the damage Bin Laden has caused on this planet.”
On the same topics, Congressman Charles Boustany stated “Well, I have to say this has been a long effort in trying to get bin Laden and now we have seen justice served. It is a real tribute to the work the intelligence community did, our diplomats and of course men and women who serve in uniform and the special operation forces that conducted the operation. This is justice for those who were killed on 9/11 and for others around the world who suffered at the hands of Al Qaeda.” On the Arab uprising in the Middle East, the Congressman said “I think the youth, the people across the Arab world are looking for more freedom and more economic opportunity, and it is my hope that all this can transform without violence. We have seen enough violence now, and that is the real problem.”
Indiana’s Republican governor, Mitch Daniels, the grandchild of Syrian immigrants, commented on the Syria uprising “I just say as a proud descendent of Syrians, I am so proud of the courage, the bravery that people are showing in the face of the tyrannical regime. I am proud to be a Syrian but I can’t say I am proud of the regime that has led that country for a long time. And I just hope that people there will be safe and ultimately successful in achieving greater freedom and a chance to do in Syria what my grandparents and father were able to do in the U.S.”