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Muqtedar Khan is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Adrian College
in Michigan. He is a Visiting Fellow at Brookings Institution and a Fellow
of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding.
For a comprehensive resume click here: Resume
M. A. Muqtedar Khan
This article was published in The Daily Star (Lebanon) 12.21.04, The Daily Times (Pakistan) 12.24.04, Muslimwakeup.com 12.20.04, Pakistan Link 12.25.04, The Muslim Observer 12.24.04, and The Minaret (January 2004). Also published by The American Muslim (December 2004), Lebanon Wire, Mexico Star, Venezuela Star and The Brazilian Sun.
A group of American Muslim scholars, activists and community leaders is determined to carve a role for American Muslims in policy making. They met after a conference titled “Bridging the Divide” which was hosted by the US-Islamic World Project at Brookings Saban Center for Middle East Policy on December 13, 2004 and launched a new initiative -- American Muslim Group on Policy Planning (AMGPP).
group will focus on directing American Muslim energies towards
engagement with the policy community and the US government. Its
foundation is based on the premise that the American Muslim
community is not only capable of providing valuable assistance to
the US in the war on terror but can also play a pivotal role in
helping build bridges of confidence, trust and communication
between the US and the Muslim World. AMGPP will work to bridge the
three crucial gaps between the US and the Muslim World, the US
policymaking and American Muslims, and between American Muslim
interests and their capacity. In all cases the initiative will
seek to educate, inform and advise without actually indulging in
is willing to play a very active role in helping improve US image
and counter the tide of extremism and anti-Americanism in the
Muslim World. The group is eager to take a leadership role on
issues of public diplomacy and outreach on behalf of the State
Department and also act as a spokesperson for American policies,
concerns and interests. However in order to be able to play the
role of an honest broker, AMGPP must be convinced that the
policies it is willing to defend and explain are deserving of
defense. This can be accomplished only by the inclusion of
American Muslims in the policy making process. American Muslims
cannot explain or defend policies that they disagree with and most
importantly have had no hand in making.
this end, AMGPP will focus on providing policy input to government
officials through regular dialogue, conferences, meetings and
briefings. It will also work at community capacity building and
outreach. The US Congress has made multiple allocations for
various policy goals such as the Middle East Partnership
Initiative (MEPI) that seeks reform and development in the Muslim
World. AMGPP will seek to link Muslim NGOs with public and private
funding sources in order to promote American Muslim initiatives in
the area of economic development and strengthening of civil
Brookings conference itself touched upon many of the policy issues
that AMGPP could potentially inform. The conference was jointly
convened by Dr. Peter Singer, Co-Director of the US-Islamic World
Project and Dr. Muqtedar Khan a Nonresident Fellow at Brookings
Institution. The speakers at the conference included Dr. Shibley
Telhami of the University of Maryland, Mr. Adam Ereli, The Deputy
Spokesperson of the State Department, Dr. Sulayman Nyang of Howard
University, Mr. Farid Senzai of the Institute for Social Policy
and Understanding, Mr. Salam Al-Marayati of the Muslim Public
Affairs Council, Dr. Zahid Bukhari from Georgetown University and
Mr. Hady Amr of Amr Group. Dr.
Islam Siddiqui, a former undersecretary of Agriculture and to date
the highest-ranking American Muslim government official delivered
the luncheon keynote address.
conference attendees included prominent scholars such as Dr. John
Esposito and Dr. Steve Cohen, prominent community leaders such as
Dr. Yahya Basha, Mr. Muhammad Shakir and Dr. Maqbool Arshad,
several officials from the State Department, the Pentagon and
Senate Staff. MSA President Hadia Mubarak, and Executive Director
of Progressive Muslim Union, Mr. Ahmed Nassef also participated in
this important event.
were two key conclusions at the conference. One, the US had lost
its credibility in the Muslim World and desperately needed
moderate Muslim support to restore its credibility. A State
Department official explained the situation in these words “We
know things are terribly bad, we need help, and specially we need
American Muslims to help dedemonize the US.” The second
conclusion was that Islam and Muslims are being demonized in the
US, their civil rights situation was terrible and Muslims are
routinely excluded from policy deliberations; so how can they help
improve US image unless things improve on the domestic front.
Those extremists in America who propagate hatred of Islam and
Muslims must be treated as extremists, and the government must
move forward to include Muslims in policy making. Muslim input is
valuable both in the articulation as well as in execution of
One of the questions constantly raised after 9/11 is “where are the moderate Muslims?” So far many of them have been working as individuals or as part of mainstream American Muslim organizations that are already overwhelmed with the challenge of rising Islamophoebia in the US. Now with the constitution of the American Muslim Group for Policy Planning, Moderate Muslims in America have a name and an address. They are here, they are now organized, and willing to provide their input for policy making and their assistance in policy implementation. The ball is now in the government’s court; hopefully they will respond and help build a partnership with American Muslims.
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