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Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations
I would like to see a president committed to continued American leadership in the defense of civil liberties. The president should work with Congress to end indefinite detention without trial of citizens and others. The president should also lead a vocal campaign in opposition to anti-Islam legislation that is sweeping the nation. And I think it is time we found out why some American citizens, almost exclusively Muslim, are being denied the fundamental right to return to their country.
My "wish list" for the White House:
• Repeal the indefinite detention provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act.
• Work to pass both the End Racial Profiling Act and Safe Schools Improvement Act.
• Close the Guantanamo Bay detention center and end the unconstitutional practice of prolonged detention outside of our nation’s justice system.
• Reassess the nation’s CIA/military drone strike program that has led to civilian deaths in Pakistan (now being expanded to the Horn of Africa) and harmed America’s image and interests.
• Reassess the nation’s policy of assassinating American citizens overseas.
• End the questioning of Muslims at the U.S. border about their faith and religious observances.
• Reassess the nation’s policy of preventing some American Muslim citizens from returning home after overseas travels.
• Review the nation’s Watch List program to make it easier for individuals wrongly placed on the list to have their names removed.
• End the CIA’s relationship with the New York Police Department to spy on American Muslims.
Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Someday, a president may take the oath of office and find himself with a prospering nation, budget surpluses and a world at peace. Jan. 20, 2013, will not be that day. Instead, the newly inaugurated president will face a host of challenges at home and abroad. The voices of people of faith "speaking truth to power" as the president decides how to meet those challenges will be more vital than ever.
During the campaign, discussion of our responsibilities to provide a safety net to the poor were alarmingly absent. Our voices must be raised on behalf of Americans struggling to recover from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, even as some misguidedly call for weakening parts of that safety net from food stamps to Medicaid to Social Security.
It is unlikely that we will quickly find consensus on gay marriage; allowing states to continue to make their own decisions is the right course to follow at this time. But until the past few years, there was significant Republican support for a law that would ban employment discrimination because of sexual orientation or gender identity. A concerted effort for passage now could attract the support of those Republican legislators determined to heal some of our nation’s wounds.
So, too, on immigration. Actions must be taken to address the plight of undocumented immigrants who too often live in the shadows even as they contribute to and are a vital part of the fabric of our communities, including implementation of the Dream Act provisions the first Obama administration began. The results of this election reflect the need for both parties to address the needs of the Latino community more assertively than they have before.
We must look beyond our borders as well, with priorities including: reinvigorating your efforts to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians — so vital to the U.S. and to the interests of both parties there, acting more assertively in support of the security and well-being of the besieged civilians in Syria, supporting religious freedom as a universal norm and addressing global warming before that crisis spins out of control.
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