First our Justice Department issues a statement which clearly promotes Islam in America. Now the Council on Foreign Relations is telling us that we need to lose the negative stereotypes of Muslims. How about Muslims change their ways before we change our opinions of them? On top of it this so called US Middle Eastern "expert" believes that dialogue with the Islamic world will changes things. Gee lady what an original idea....I am sure that in 1400 years no one has ever thought of this.
Hat tip to Jihad Watch.
Stereotypes must be overcome in improving U.S.-Muslim ties: expert
by Xinhua Writer Wang Jiangang
NEW YORK, June 6 (Xinhua) -- Stereotypes must be overcome before the U.S.-Muslim relations could be improved, a U.S. Middle East expert said in a recent interview.
In efforts to improve U.S.-Muslim relations, "there are a lot of stereotypes to overcome," said Isobel Coleman, director of the Women and Foreign Policy program of the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations.
"If you ask an average American, what do they think if they talk about Muslims, you come up with a lot of negative references," she told Xinhua in the interview on Friday.
"They do think about suicide bombings, terrorism and all sorts of things," Coleman said. "And the Muslims also have to overcome the stereotypes of America," she added.
Commenting on the speech U.S. President Barack Obama made at Cairo University Thursday, Coleman said: "U.S.-Muslim relations are starting from a very low point, so the first step in building respect and trust (between the two sides) is just really trying to initiate dialogue."
Invoking the Quran and his rarely used middle name, Barack Hussein Obama declared that America has a common cause with Islam and never will be at war with the faith -- an overture intently watched by the Muslim world.
"Obama made numerous overtures to the Muslim world and talked about U.S.-Muslim relations several times during his presidency," she said.
"Obama is a new person, a new presidency, a new generation and a new face, I think he is trying to start over again," she said, "It is really a starting point."
However, while Obama "acknowledged his own Muslim past, even spoke Arabic phrases and quoted passages from Quran, it is absolutely impossible to put the U.S.-Muslim relations on a complete new footing" with just one well-received speech, she said.
The United States and Muslim countries still have "a lot of differences in policies," she said.
As for building mutual trust and respect between the U.S. and the Muslim countries, Coleman said that Obama must take some specific actions so as to win the hearts of Muslims.
If the U.S. reduces the troop level in Iraq, it would be conducive to his efforts to mend and bridge the wounds and gaps between the two, as the Muslim world still maintains that U.S. occupation of Iraq is just for its quest of oil resources in Iraq, she said.
"If there is a significant drawdown of troops, that would help remove another friction of point," Coleman added.
When asked whether Obama's own Muslim-related background would help his effort to build a better U.S.-Muslim relationship, Coleman said: "It is a little bit helpful."
"Since Obama is a popularly elected African-American President, this might make Muslims think how many minorities in our countries could ever hope of doing something like that and people are respectful of that."
U.S.-Muslim relations could not improve overnight, Coleman noted. These things are "cumulative and take time. I wouldn't say that there will some massive and key shift from one speech in Cairo."
Those looking for a dramatic change in U.S. policy will be disappointed, she said. "Under the Obama Administration, you have an acceleration of troop levels in Afghanistan and he is not about to meet all the demands of the radical Jihadi groups up there. That's not what he stands for."
Coleman hailed Obama's speech, saying he was trying to send a message to the Muslim world that "the United States has no fight with the Muslim world, but in fact we have many mutual interests."
Analysts believe that in the first instance the speech was a continuation of Obama's promise to reach out to Arabs and the Islamic world, repeating a line he has used before, that "America is not - and never will be - at war with Islam."
Less than five months in office Obama has already done that on a number of occasions, either in speeches or in policy moves, such as appointing former Senator George Mitchell as Special Envoy for Middle East peace negotiations at the beginning of his term in office, or indicating his administration would join directly in nuclear negotiations with Tehran.
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