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AMERICAN MORNING

Bush Headed to Dearborn

Aired April 28, 2003 - 09:35   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's check on the president's day now. The president is going to meet with Iraqi exiles today. He's heading to Dearborn, Michigan. It's his first stop on a week-long series of Iraq-related events.
Jeff Flock is in Dearborn this morning -- Jeff, good morning.

JEFF FLOCK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Daryn, good morning to you. Want to give you some sense of what the president will hear later this morning. We have got a group of Iraqi-Americans, different faiths, different ages, although want what's best for their country.

Nick Najjar, I want to ask you first, what will you tell the president today when you meet with him?

NICK NAJJAR, IRAQI EXILE: First thing, I'm going to thank him for liberation of Iraq, and thank the troops, our troops.

Second thing, I'll ask him to help Iraqi people to -- forming their government, the free, elected government in Iraq. The second thing, I'll ask him to let the American-Iraqi -- Iraqi-American to help rebuild in Iraq. That's the two things very important.

FLOCK: The whole question is, how do we get to this place? Imam Al Husainy, you have some concerns this morning. What are they?

IMAM HUSHAM AL HUSAINY, KARBALAA ISLAMIC CENTER: Well, we've been living under Saddam's regime, nobody listened to us, we have no saying, and here it is again with our (ph) president coming here and we are not invited, so me and a lot of Iraqis are going to stand out of the hall, and we would love to -- Mr. president to hear us.

FLOCK: But how can everybody have a voice heard? This is a very complex situation.

AL HUSAINY: Well, we represent the communities, and we represent 70 percent of the Iraqi people. If you don't deal with them, then where is democracy?

FLOCK: Is that a fear on your part that -- the right people won't be represented in this government? What should this new government look like, in your view?

EMAD ALKASID, IRAQI YOUTH REUNION: Well, the government is supposed to be look like the -- the new democracy. This is supposed to represent the new democracy. And I would like, if I have a chance to see the president, I will say, "shukran jazeenan lil tahrir, (ph)" which is mean "thanks for liberations."

And I mean, a lot of Iraqi people, they now going to (ph) be there in the meeting, or what Imam Husainy said, because there is too many of Iraqi community here, but let's focus in the new Iraq, let's focus what we can do for the new country.

FLOCK: Some people are concerned that perhaps an Islamic fundamentalist government may grow out of what has been in Iraq. Is that your concern?

NAJJAR: If we have election in Iraq, if we have representative for Iraqi people in the right way, the way we have in America and the Western countries, we are not going to have that fear.

FLOCK: You are a Muslim cleric. Do I offend you with that comment?

AL HUSAINY: No, not at all. Iraq is a great country. We can live together as Christians, Muslims, Kurdish, Arabs, Shi'a...

FLOCK: Is it possible?

AL HUSAINY: Yes, we proved before, as long as Saddam is gone. But Saddam removed, but the liberation has not started yet. We need to work with the people, we need to listen to the people. We need to deal with the Iraqi people. Don't enforce any other puppet on us.

FLOCK: That is a concern -- that's a concern. Before we get away, quickly.

ALKASID: I think President Bush has to build the bridge (ph) between the United States and Iraqis to rebuild the democracy.

FLOCK: I am going to leave the last word there. Gentlemen, I appreciate it so much. I think if all of Iraq could get along as well of these different faiths here, we would be all in good shape. That is the latest from Dearborn, the home to more Iraqi-Americans than any other place in the United States -- back to you folks.

KAGAN: Very interesting fact and conversation. Quick, yet fascinating. Jeff, thank you.

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