Recently, CAIR-Chicago's Executive Director, Ahmed Rehab, was on a "transatlantic dialogue" tour of the UK where he was a guest on the BBC World's flagship program, HARDtalk.
HARDtalk, hosted by the BBC's veteran foreign correspondent, Stephen Sackur, is a fast-paced and confrontational current affairs program that reaches hundreds of millions of viewers worldwide. It is recorded live in the BBC studios in London.
The following are excerpts from the interview as well as the video and the full program transcript. Stay tuned for Rehab's UK report coming soon!
"…We don't want to have special rights as Muslims living in America, but equal rights to everybody else! And that is the foundation of our civil rights work... "
"..the whole idea is for us to focus on the goal, and the goal is to respect the rule of law. As a civil rights activist - Muslim or not - my goal is to hold my government accountable where it makes mistakes to tell it: "the rule of law should reign supreme..."
"…Other communities have been challenged. But every time, the challenge has an opportunity within it. I want to take advantage of that opportunity. Each cloud has a silver lining; I focus on the silver lining – you know, the glass half full as opposed to half empty - to try to make something positive out of the situation…"
"…I think the bigger problem, both for the government and for the mainstream American society, is that they fail to differentiate between the domain of Islam and the domain of terrorism. They may intersect at certain areas, but they're definitely not concentric and the problem is when we deal with them as if they were one and the same."
"…the first thing if you want to empower your community is: to talk about shedding the victim mentality. We cannot look at the world through the lens that we are victims who have been mistreated here and there. Although that may be true, we may have suffered certain racist acts, or come from countries that suffer post-colonial economic crisis, so on and so forth, that isn't our focus. We're aware of it, but our focus is to the future... "
"I cannot look at the American flag and think only of these strategic errors in terms of foreign policy and forget that we are the leader in terms of scientific advancement, medicine, space exploration, so on and so forth - great things that we have given to humanity. I see America as a whole, and as such I can say that I am proud to be an American while reminding myself that I can challenge the problems in our foreign policy through the legal channels of America..."