Colin Powell Answers Questions from High School Students on BET

February 23, 2003

Source: The Washington Post

On February 23, 2003 The Washington Post reported that "about 100 other high school students from across the Washington region were invited to the Black Entertainment Television (BET) studio in the District last week to talk with [Colin] Powell. BET President Debra Lee, who has two children, said it made sense to give teenagers a chance to quiz the secretary of state... The students peppered Powell with questions about Iraq and the implications of war there... Powell called on a student sitting nearby, Ali Syed, an 18-year-old senior from Springbrook High School in Silver Spring. Syed, who is also Muslim, asked the secretary whether a war with Iraq would spark an ideological war against Islam... 'It is unfortunate that sometimes terrorist organizations like al Qaeda, people like Osama bin Laden, cloak their activities in religious terms, but I don't think it is a correct characterization,' Powell responded. 'The United States is an open, outreaching country that welcomes all people to these shores...' 'We are a nation of immigrants,' Powell continued. 'I can leave this studio right now and in 10 minutes I can be in a synagogue, a temple, churches of dozens denominations. I can be in a mosque. . . . Our campaign is against terrorism, not against Muslims, and I hope American Muslims understand this.'"