Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Ahmad Al-Qloushi, a
17-year-old Kuwaiti Arab Muslim who has just recently immigrated to America
and is now a college freshman studying at Foothill College
in Los Altos Hills, California
FP: Ahmad Al-Qloushi, welcome to Frontpage Interview. It is a pleasure to have you here.
Al-Qloushi: Thank you for having me, its a pleasure being here.
FP: First things first, I would like to congratulate you on yesterday’s elections in Iraq. It is a great day for freedom and liberty throughout the world. It appears that some 70% of Iraqis took a stand for civilization and life against terror and nihilism. What are your thoughts on this landmark watershed in Middle East history?
Al-Qloushi: It is a great day in the history of the Middle East. After 30 years of tyranny and torture, the Iraqi people finally found freedom and liberty. The United States did an excellent job of maintaining the safety of the process. President George W. Bush will be looked upon as a liberator in the books of history as a result of this day. Now that we have a full democracy in Iraq hopefully it will spread and begin taking roots in other countries in the Middle East.
FP: To be sure, let’s hope for a domino effect in the Arab-Islamic world.
What are your overall views about America in Iraq and Bush’s policy?
Al-Qloushi: I think the President is a stalwart hero just like his dad was when he came to Kuwait. He saved the lives of 50 million people in Iraq and Afghanistan and is establishing democracy where it is needed. When democracy flourishes in the Middle East only then will terrorism and Islamic extremism cease to exist.
FP: Why is it do you think that democracy has such a difficult time penetrating the Islamic-Arab world?
Al-Qloushi: Arab leaders are afraid of democracy as it would threaten their power. The Saud monarchy surely fears the idea of presidential elections. Arab leaders use propaganda and religious pulpits to divert the masses from wanting democracy by using scapegoats like America and Israel.
FP: Let’s talk about you and your background a bit. You were three years old when Saddam invaded Kuwait in 1990. I apologize for bringing up this painful subject, but could you tell us a bit about your family’s experience during that time?
Al-Qloushi: It was the worst seven months of our lives. Everyday was darker than the next because of the burning oil wells. My family was separated as some of them left the country. My two uncles were kidnapped from their homes and taken to prisons in Southern Iraq We would wait in long lines for meagre crumbs of bread. People were afraid to leave their homes. It was the worst 7 months of our lives.
FP: Tell us about life in Kuwait. Are women allowed to dress as they wish? Is dating allowed? Are there any Western-style freedoms and rights?
Al-Qloushi: Women in Kuwait are allowed to dress as they please. It’s often funny to see two women standing together -- one dressed very modestly covering her face with a burqa and one wearing a skirt which is knee high. Dating is not encouraged yet when a bride and groom are selected for each other they have a 3 month period in which they date to find out if they are right for each other. Yes Kuwait is one of the countries in the Gulf that has such liberties and freedoms -- but that doesn't mean we don't want more.
FP: Dating is not “encouraged”? When a bride and groom are “selected”? Selected by whom? Let me crystallize this: can a young man and a young girl meet on their own and do whatever they want to do in their own private and personal sphere – without fear of external punishment?
Al-Qloushi: No a young man and woman cannot do what they want to do in their own private and personal sphere without fear of external punishment.
FP: What are your views on this prohibition of the personal sphere of love between humans? Why do you think it poses such a threat to certain totalitarian structures?
Al-Qloushi: I believe that freedom of choice is always a must in any faith. Personal love is something personal and no one should interfere with it. Totalitarian structures are afraid of such conceptions as love and freedom as they are a threat to their grasp and totalitarian control.
FP: Like you, I am also an immigrant. I come from the Soviet Union and, because of my family’s experience with communist totalitarianism and terror, I cherish America and love America. Could you talk a bit about why you have the same feelings for this country?
Al-Qloushi: I have the same feelings for this country as it saved my life and secured liberty and freedom to Kuwait. America also liberated countless other countries and rid the world of tyranny. Because of America, Saddam Hussein is no longer a threat to the world. America is one of the few countries in the world of true freedom and liberty -- a land of great opportunities.
FP: What are some liberties and opportunities in America that do not exist in your own homeland?
Al-Qloushi: Women’s voting rights. They are something I am very passionate about. I support the right of women to vote and to run for elected office in Kuwait.
FP: Right, in Kuwait women are not allowed to vote or run for office. But who exactly has the right to vote? What kind of vote is this? What kind of “democracy” does Kuwait really have?
Al-Qloushi: Men over 18 have the right to vote. Kuwait is in its infancy in democracy. When the bill for women’s voting rights was introduced in the national assembly it was voted against by two votes even though the monarchy was for women’s rights to vote. This proves that Kuwait is a constitutional monarchy which is moving towards democracy.
FP: What do you think it is in Islamic-Arab culture that spawns a fear of women’s voting rights, personal freedoms etc.? In other words, what causes the fear of women?
Al-Qloushi: Religious zealots in the Arab world are afraid of woman taking any authoritative roles in government as this threatens their authority. Also, in Kuwait religious political groups are afraid of women’s voting rights because women would vote for moderate political groups and thus threaten fundamentalist Islamic influence in Arab society.
FP: What are your views on the Israel-Palestinian conflict?
Al-Qloushi: I believe that Palestinians should cease any terrorist activities. I also believe that two nations can co-exist in peace if given the chance. The problem is not only with Palestine but with the Arab world at large. Only when Arabs will swallow their pride and recognize the state of Israel, only then will there hopefully be peace between Israel and Palestine and the entire Arab and Muslim World.
FP: Let's talk about academic life in this country. Illuminate for us your experience on the academic campus. I can tell you that, as someone who voiced his love of America in my undergraduate and graduate years in our institutions of higher learning, I was treated like a leper. Share your experience up till now with us.
Al-Qloushi: It is a sad situation in academia today that students are only exposed to one viewpoint. It is even sadder that students are attacked when expressing different viewpoints. When I was in my last Political Science course, I only heard one argument and one viewpoint. If someone would speak out, he would be attacked, if not by the professor then by his fellow peers.
FP: You have spoken a bit about how one professor told you to go get professional help because of your love of America. Could you tell us a bit about this?
Al-Qloushi: The professor started talking to me about the technicalities of my essay but then he went further by breaching student-professor relations by intimidating me into seeking regular therapy. The professor stated that my viewpoints are naive and emotional. He even made me write down the name of the therapist. He said that he would call psychological affairs to make sure that I made an appointment. He also threatened me by saying that he'll talk to the dean of international admissions (who has the power to take away my visa) to make sure that I seek the regular therapy. At that moment I was afraid for my visa status as I have always wanted to come and study in the United States. I didn't want to go home just because I wrote a pro-American essay.
FP: So what has happened in this matter regarding this professor who ordered you to get therapy? Can we help you expose this guy?
Al-Qloushi: What I am trying to do is to make sure that this case is not treated as an isolated case. This has happened time and again and the school must find a way to spread political and intellectual diversity on campus. The only way is the Students Bill of Rights.
FP: But this professor will be exposed eventually, right? He will be made accountable for what he tried to do you, correct?
Al-Qloushi: Hopefully what I want out of this is that lack of academic freedom will be respected in Foothill and academia at large. This is not an isolated case and it should not be treated as such. We need to create an environment where students can be encouraged to express their opinions without backlash from professors who disagree with that viewpoints.
FP: What do you think is behind the hatred of a country that represents freedom and protects it throughout the world?
Al-Qloushi: I think that people who hate this country are usually misinformed or have not seen the whole picture. For example, in the Middle East people hate America because Arab leaders against reform and true democracy use America and Israel as a scapegoat for all their own problems. Here in America people may dislike the way this country is headed because here in Northern California, for example, they have not experienced what you and I experienced living in the darkness of tyranny and totalitarianism.
FP: What would you say to leftists like Michael Moore and Tom Hayden who have come out publicly clearly on the side of the terrorist enemy in this terror war?
Al-Qloushi: I am saddened by such stigma to a war which freed 50 million people. America is a land of liberty and harmony. America ensures and protects liberties beyond its borders and it deserves much recognition for its role in history.
FP: Fair enough. But what do you think is the psychological make-up of individuals like Moore and Hayden who cheer for the victory of terrorists who chop peoples’ heads off, blow themselves alongside innocent civilians, and extinguish women’s rights, gay rights, minority rights, and all democratic rights in general? What is in their hearts?
Al-Qloushi: They are appeasers. They believe that you can sit down with people like Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden and negotiate with them. This can't be farther from the truth. Just as Chamberlain tried to appease Hitler and failed so will any form of appeasement with Islamic terrorism fail as well. The Muslim world should stop giving excuses to Islamic terrorism. People like Michael Moore should realize that most Iraqis are grateful for Americas help just as Kuwait was and still is.
FP: I think people like Moore and Hayden know all of these things. Their agendas are far more malicious and destructive, but perhaps we’ll have a debate on this in another forum. We are almost out of time, tell us: what are you plans in the next several years?
Al-Qloushi: I am planning to hopefully transfer to a four year school after finishing my two years at Foothill College. Then I will have to go back home after that and go job hunting.
FP: And what do you think the Americans should do now in Iraq and in the terror war?
Al-Qloushi: America should keep spreading democracy and liberty and America should try to increase its voice in the Middle East. People in the Middle East only hear from anti-American media and pulpits. America should try and counter that propaganda and spread its words of liberty throughout the Middle East.
FP: Mr. Al-Qloushi, it was a pleasure speaking with you today. We wish you and your family all the best. You are a tremendous gift to this country. Thank you for joining us and we hope to see you again soon.
Al-Qloushi: Thank you for inviting me Jamie. It’s really an honor and a privilege.
Ahmad Al-Qloushi can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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