(Chicago, IL, 12/3/07) – On Saturday, CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab, representing CAIR-Chicago and the Illinois Coalition for Immigration and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), took part in the Heartland Presidential Forum in Des Moines, Iowa. Rehab asked Sen. John Edwards a question about American Muslims and the civil rights movement.
To view the video, click here.
Candidates participating in the forum included Sen. Edwards, Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen. Christopher Dodd, Congressman Dennis Kucinich and Sen. Barack Obama. The entire forum, which was sponsored by the Center for Community Change (CCC) and Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI), aired live on C-SPAN and TV One.
The Heartland Presidential Forum drew 5,000 attendees. In a unique format, top-tier candidates took turns onstage and were asked questions by ordinary people, rather than giving stock speeches. This format was designed to put power back in the hands of the people and hold candidates accountable to what we the people really value.
“Americans are tired of fear-mongering and exclusion. We want leadership that will fight for the community values of America that made us the greatest nation on earth,” said Rehab.
The forum is an important part of the Campaign for Community Values, a multi-issue and multi-year effort to challenge the divisive message of the right and to promote Community Values. The Campaign for Community Values is a collective by more then 100 community-based organizations from all over the country to have an impact on public opinion and the 2008 elections.
TRANSCRIPT OF REHAB, EDWARDS:
For video of the entire forum, click here.
KATHY HUGHES (President, TV One): Our first community leader is…
SENATOR JOHN EDWARDS: You’ve got some fans.
AHMED REHAB: Senator, my name is Ahmed Rehab from Chicago, Illinois. I’m from the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Chicago and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.
REHAB: As a full-time civil rights activist, I receive hundreds of complaints from American Muslims regarding the sort of abuses, and prejudices, and discriminations that they face on a regular basis simply because of their name, physical appearance, or faith affiliation, whether it’s housing discrimination, or employment discrimination, or having to wait two to five years over the average time limit in order to obtain their citizenship.
Sadly, it seems that we’re facing a culture of fear-mongering that is replacing our collective constitutional vision for equal opportunity for all.
Senator, in the ’60s, Malcolm and Martin gave up their lives fighting for justice for all. The civil rights movement is not over. It’s not done yet. We’re still fighting.
Senator, fighting the civil rights movement is what I do on a daily basis, and we would like to know if you will fight with us, if elected president.
EDWARDS: … we’ve got to stop this racial profiling that’s going on in the United States of America.
And we’ve got to change the entire atmosphere. Here’s what I’ll do as president: I will close Guantanamo, which I think is a national embarrassment.
We will have no more secret prisons, no more rendition, no more — and I use this word intentional — no more illegal spying on the American people by the president of the United States of America.
And then, finally, finally, it is so heartbreaking that we have a debate in America about what kind of torture is permissible. I have an answer to that: No torture is permissible in the United States of
America. And those are all things that I would do as president.
HUGHES: Thank you, Senator.