MOHAMMAD ALI SALIH
I have 12 brothers and sisters, more than 30
cousins, about 50 nieces and nephews and many friends scattered in seven Muslim
countries. There are also tens of readers who respond to my writings, in Arabic
and English, in print and on the Internet, from my post in
If the National Security Agency (NSA), using
its new powers to monitor overseas communications without any approval from a
judge, will electronically look into my communications for catch words like
"Allahu Akbar (God in
Greatest)," and "Kafir (infidel)," it
will find them.
If the NSA is looking for certain names of terrorists, their supporters, helpers and financiers among my family members, it will not find them.
If the NSA is looking for Muslims who are
very critical of
Now that telephones have reached Wadi Haj, my village, located near Argo, on the
Another brother talked about the village's "madrassa" (the Arabic word is "khalwa," which literally means a place of solitude.) He said some Arab businessmen from the Gulf helped rebuild the madrassa, after it was destroyed by a flood a few years earlier. I joked that "hopefully, they are not one of those who promote terrorism by building 'madrassas' in Muslim countries."
A sister, also on her cell phone, sang an apparently popular local song about Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that goes like this: "Rice, the best of all prides. If my father agrees, I will marry you. And I'll keep you at home."
Then there was my father, a religious man in his mid-80s who can barely hear me from 6,000 miles away (when I talk to him, I sit in my car and close the window so I can shout as loud as I can). At the end of each telephone call, I usually ask for his prayers and blessings, and I can recite by heart his favorite prayer: "May Allah guide you. May Allah protect you from evil. May Allah defeat your enemies."
A relative who seems to follow the details of events in the
My relatives and friends are not exceptional. In next-door Egypt (a U.S. "ally"), according to a recent poll by WorldPublicOpinion.org covering four Muslim countries, 92 percent of the public believed that the United States intends to "weaken and divide" Muslims. Ninety-one percent supported "attacking
Another recent poll by
But, in spite of its faults, I believe
But no one made me feel more proud of being an American than my 6-year-old nephew when I asked him last week my usual question to the young nephews and nieces: "What present do you want from
Surprised, I joked about being inside it and climbing all way up to the crown. I apologized for not being able to send it to him because it was so huge. But I promised to send him a miniature (probably one of those with thermometers inside).
Of course, the NSA is not interested in
phone calls like this one about the Statue of Liberty, but maybe it appreciates
Mohammad Ali Salih has been a full-time