Candidate greeted with Devon Street protests in Chicago
(read relevant excerpts from his speech below)
By Ayub Khan, MMNS
CHICAGO, IL–Democratic Presidential Candidate Sen.Barack Obama was greeted by noisy protestors as he arrived to speak at a fundraiser organized by his South Asian supporters in Chicago. They were protesting his remarks last week about his willingness to launch unilateral military strikes against Al Qaeda havens in the Waziristan area of Pakistan.
A group of about three dozen mostly Pakistani-Americans angrily chanted, â€œObama, hypocrite,â€ â€œPeace, Not War,â€ and held placards that read â€œObama equal Osama,â€ â€œWar is Not the Answer,â€ â€œPakistan is Not Our Enemy.â€
Sen. Obama sneaked in through the back door of the Mysore Woodlands restaurant on Chicagoâ€™s famed Devon Avenue and claimed that he has been misrepresented by the media.
He said those who are protesting his remarks havenâ€™t read his exact remarks and were instead relying on twisted reports.
Obama said that he did not advocate outright military action but that in case the Pakistani government was unable to take out known Al Qaeda targets in its territory, then the American military can launch targeted attacks. He added that full precautions should be taken to avoid any civilian casualties. He said his foreign policy will focus on the diplomacy with all (even the enemies), troop pullback from Iraq, closing of Guantanamo Bay prison, and increased funding for education programs worldwide. At the same time, he said, tough action needs to be undertaken against hardened terrorists. In response to an audience question about US support for Indian military action against militants and separatists he once again underscored that diplomacy should be the top priority.
After his explanation, some Pakistani community leaders and an Urdu newspaper editor tried to pacify protestors by saying Obama had clarified his views and that he had been misrepresented by the media. Obama accepted to meet the protestorâ€™s representatives inside the fundraising venue. But the protestors demanded that he come outside and apologize for his comments. â€œSen.Obama made his shameful comments in a public venue. He should feel no shame in coming out and apologizing in public,â€ yelled one protestor from a megaphone. The protestors also urged others not to go inside the venue and labelled those who did went inside to meet the senator as â€œtraitors.â€ Tense scenes were seen at the protest site as Obama made his quiet exit once again from the back door.