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11/12/04 - POWELL ON ISLAM  - 2004-11-15

The U.S. is committed to encouraging political reform and promoting democratic values in the Middle East and North Africa. This point was made by Secretary of State Colin Powell at the State Department's annual Iftar dinner, held during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

"The most important of these principles is that the desire for reform and modernization has to be home-grown and its achievements home-owned. Reform and modernization can't be imposed or sustained from outside. It can be helped, if that help is tailored wisely to the conditions of each society with full respect for the culture and history of each society."

In the past two years, the U.S. has helped to liberate more than fifty-million Muslims from oppressive tyrannies in Afghanistan and Iraq. The U.S. "has taken the lead to put an end to the crisis that has been so tragic for the Muslim peoples," says Mr. Powell. "Many unkind, and untrue, things are said about the United States," says Mr. Powell, but the "facts speak for themselves":

"President Bush, in his next four years in office, will be aggressively moving forward with respect to the Middle East peace process, with respect to reform and modernization, with respect to solidifying democracy in places that have never known democracy before, with respect to fighting terrorism."

Secretary of State Powell says that "reform will ultimately be successful because freedom and democracy are powerful universal values, not just Western or American values."