US President George Bush appointed Sada Cumber as his special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference [OIC]. Cumber, who is a businessman and hails from Pakistan, will be entrusted with the task of fighting misperceptions about the United States among the OIC member countries.
[Begin recording] [Nadiya al-Bilbisi, Al-Arabiya Correspondent from Washington] From his Oval Office, President George Bush announced the appointment of Sada Cumber, a US businessman, as the first presidential envoy to the OIC. Bush added that there are many misperceptions about the United States in the Muslim world, expressing hope that Cumber will correct this wrong image and explain the US position towards Muslims as that of a friend of freedom and justice.
[In English, with a voice over in Arabic, translated from Arabic] We value religion and believe that everybody has the right to worship in whatever way they deem right. We respect that. Cumber's mission is to correct misperceptions they have about our understanding of Islam.
[Al-Bilbisi] Cumber migrated to the United States from Pakistan in 1978. He is a successful businessman from Texas, who hopes to use his personal background to give a positive image of Muslims being able to adapt into the American society. Cumber, however, understands the challenges facing him, especially after the events of 11 September.
[Cumber in English with a voice over in Arabic, translated from Arabic] If you look at the last fifty years, you will see that from the time of President Eisenhower up till now, every US administration has worked with the Islamic world, here in the United States and abroad. This task, which President Bush entrusted me with here today, is part of this tradition; we want to continue along this path.
[Al-Bilbisi] For his part, Nihad Awad, director of the Council on Islamic-American Relations [CAIR], believes that Bush's appointing an envoy to the OIC is a positive step. He added, however, that the mission awaiting Cumber is difficult, because the disagreement is not between the Muslim world and the American people or their way of life, the problem lies with the US policies.
[Awad] Changing people's perceptions about the US politics is almost impossible; especially in the Muslim world. Muslims respect, value, and appreciate the US society as a culture and a civilization, but they don't agree with its politics. Unless politics is changed and corrected, it will not matter if twenty envoys are sent; we cannot change other people's perceptions about the United States. (Courtesy: Al Arabiya TV, February 29, 2008; Announcer-read report over video)