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June 18, 2006-by Craig R Smith Recent events in the Middle East have proven, once again, the inability of Arabs to live with one another. I am now convinced some Middle Eastern Arabs do not want democracy, nor do they deserve it. Democracy requires self-government, which is nonexistent in many areas of the Middle East. Unfortunately, this way of life is taught, and the teachings need to change.

I hear all the time about "peace" that existed in Iraq prior to the ousting of Saddam Hussein. The war critics look back and recount how one could walk the streets of Baghdad at night and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea at a sidewalk cafe in complete safety. Saddam was a brutal tyrant who raped, tortured and killed thousands, but there was relative "peace" in Iraq.

Then coalition forces invaded Iraq to remove this brutal dictator and hand Iraq back to its rightful owners – the people. Ever since, Iraqis have been killing Iraqis. Shias have been killing Sunnis. Sunnis have been killing Shias. The violence has been nonstop. Even after millions of people voted for the first time in their lives for freedom and democracy, the killing continued. The once "peaceful" Iraq is now in shambles.

The "Blame America First" crowd says we should have never offered the chance for freedom to Iraq following the removal of Saddam and neutralizing any potential threat. If we had not invaded Iraq, they would be living in peace. Apparently a large faction in Iraq wanted a brutal dictator or a tyrant running their lives. They sure haven't been able to keep from killing each other once the dictator was removed.

Let's look at another lovely corner of the Middle East to see what freedom brings. In August 2005, the Disengagement Plan Implementation Law (also known as the "Disengagement Plan," the "Gaza Pullout Plan" and the "Hitnatkut") was adopted by the Israeli government and enacted. Israel proceeded to remove all Israeli residents from the Gaza Strip and the four settlements of the Northern West Bank.

By the end of September 2005, 9,000 Jewish settlers were removed from the regions – some voluntarily, others by the Israel Defense Forces. However, they all left including the IDF soldiers. In the process, not one Israeli killed another Israeli. Israelis fought, they screamed and, in some cases, even threw a few rocks. But, at the end of the day, they cried and hugged each other as they loaded their trucks with their earthly possessions and left.

What is the result of the Jews leaving? Arabs attack Arabs. Arabs throw Arabs off of buildings. Street executions, mortars, bombings, AK-47 fire nonstop to the point where the only voice of reason in the region was silenced. Palestinian President Abbas was forced to dissolve his government and declare a state of emergency after rival Hamas terrorist forces took complete control of the Gaza strip in what they refer to as the "liberation". That is liberty? Being thrown off a building or being executed in the streets?

Within months of the sane-thinking Israelis residents' and soldiers' departure from the "occupied" regions, the insane leaders of the "religion of peace" took up residence and violence. Killing and terror returned. The bloodshed resumes in the most horrific forms of brutality known to civilized people. Yet, not one voice from the Muslim community calls for peace or for Muslims to stop killing Muslims. That is until now.

Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, chairman of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, and his associates are working overtime to bring hope to a people through democracy and freedom. He, being an American-born Muslim, understands that democracy comes from within a person. He understands that love, not violence, will change the Muslim world. He will be the first to say what we see in the Islamic Middle East is not the Islam he was taught as a child.

Jasser is one of the leaders in his medical profession practicing out of a major hospital in the Phoenix area. He served his country in the U.S. Navy and is very proud to be an American. He is devout in his religious practices and, while being a faithful husband and devoted father of two young children, manages to find time at his own expense to share his belief that with education, things can change in the Middle East. Jasser has found Islam and democracy are compatible. They do complement each other. He has a message all Islamic religious leaders should support.

Imagine what the world would say if Pentecostal Christians were killing Baptists in Texas? Or kosher Jews were killing reformed Jews in New York. The world would demand that religious leaders take a stand and stop the violence. Yet in the Arab world, religious leaders can hide in their mosques and encourage more violence? NBC, CBS and CNN would be raking Billy Graham and Rabbi Eckstein over the coals, and yet the ayatollahs, imams and the likes of Sadr and his militia get a pass?

This is why voices like Jasser and his fellow Muslims must find an ear in the Middle East if democracy will ever provide the Arab people with what all people deserve – freedom. For too many years, Arabs have only been able to live in reasonable peace when someone is there to referee the struggle and keep them in check. Remove the authority, and the killings resume. It is a pattern that must be stopped. And it can be stopped with education and love. Jasser and his group offer both and should be applauded and supported in their tireless efforts to change the Muslim world.

Freedom is a gift given to all men by their Creator. To maintain it, there will be a price to pay. The radical Muslims within the Islamic community must be held accountable for the violence and bloodshed they create. Leaders need to denounce the violence and encourage reconciliation. Anything short of that is an endorsement for more dictators and tyrants to run the Middle East for years to come. It is high time Muslims demand more from Muslims.

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