Muqtedar Khan is Assistant Professor in
the Department of Political
Science and International Relations at the University
of Delaware. Prior to that he was Chair of
the Department of Political Science and the Director of International
is also associated with the Center
for the Study of Islam and Democracy and the Institute
for Social Policy and Understanding. He has been the President, Vice
President and General Secretary of the Association
of Muslim Social Scientists.
the author of American Muslims:
Bridging Faith and Freedom (Amana, 2002), Jihad
frequently comments on BBC, CNN, FOX and VOA TV, NPR and other radio and TV networks.
His political commentaries appear regularly in newspapers in over 20
countries. He has also lectured in North America, East Asia, Middle
is from Hyderabad in India. He is married to Reshma and has a son Rumi,
and a daughter Ruhi.
HUGHES AND AMERICAN MUSLIMS:
she point him in the right direction?
This article was published in The Daily Times [Pakistan, 09.16.05], The Daily Star [Lebanon, 09.24.05], Middle East Online [09.12.05], Pakistan Link [09.15.05], [Middle East Web [09.14.05], AltMuslim [09.10.05], American Muslim Perspective [09.09.05], The American Muslim [09.11.05], Naseeb Vibes [09.13.05], The Globalist [09.15.05], Afghanistan Sun [09.16.05], Big News Network [09.16.05], Official Wire [09.12.05], Iran Herald [09.16.05], and many more places.
Hughes, widely recognized as one of the most powerful people in
particularly classy gesture she made spoke volumes about the refreshing
attitude that she is bringing to the job. After nearly three and a half
hours of discussions, she graciously surprised everyone by offering to
walk across to another venue to speak a few words of encouragement to the
300 volunteers who had worked hard to make the convention that typically
attracts about 40,000 participants a huge success. It was easy to see why
she was not deterred by Islamophobic critics who seek to subvert all
endeavors at building an effective alliance against extremism, between
American Muslims and American government.
dialogue itself was interesting. It frequently revealed the perception gap
between Muslims and the government on many issues. Ambassador Hughes was
surprised that Muslims thought that the
her brief talk, Ambassador Hughes elucidated the four “Es” of her
approach, Education, Empowerment, Engagement and Exchanges. She recognized
upfront that one of her main tasks would be to empower American Muslims so
that they could become more effective ambassadors for Islam in
Muslim leaders were a bit cynical going into the meeting. The current
administration has closed more doors than it has opened for them. But they
were heartened when during the meeting Ambassador Hughes expressed the
need for government and civil society to do something that would make hate
speech of any kind absolutely unforgettable. She recognized that like the
radical ideologues in the Muslim world, there were American ideologues too
who were preaching hatred against Islam and Muslims. Perhaps this issue
can become a barometer to test how serious she is about improving
relations. Will she, and can she, do something to check the Islamophobic
messages that consistently come from evangelical leaders, conservative
talk shows and columnists [usually supporters of the Bush administration].
I am sure she realizes that they ultimately will undermine her own efforts
at public diplomacy.
one who was involved in inviting her to the event and facilitating the
dialogue, I am deeply committed to its success and hope that it will lead
to more cooperation between American government and American Muslims. We
are all excited and hopeful that her visit will make a difference. The
Bridging the Divide initiative of Brookings Institution that I am
associated with has strongly advocated that the first step towards
arresting the growing chasm between the
Muslims are eager to work with her. They understand the vital necessity of
cannot be allies and effective on the frontlines of the battle against
extremism if our own government will not trust us and if our fellow
countrymen wage a campaign of disempowerment by leveling false,
unsubstantiated and often malicious accusations against mainstream
American Muslims and their institutions. American Muslims and their
institutions are often deserving of criticism, but more for their
incapacities and incoherence rather than for anything sinister.
message however does have one fundamental philosophical problem. She seems
to think that at some level just countering the geopolitical ideology and
radical rhetoric of the extremists will result in winning the hearts and
minds of Muslims and reducing the anti-Americanism that is swelling the
ranks of Jihadis everywhere. This assumption is a recipe for failure.
Just because the Jihadis are wrong in claiming that Islam teaches violence and demands that every Muslim wage Jihad against all no-Muslims; it does not necessarily mean that US policies of supporting dictators (in Pakistan and Uzbekistan), maintaining close ties with monarchs and emirs, attacking countries on false assumptions and bring death and devastations to entire nations and practicing torture, are right.
she listens closely to Muslims, and actually looks at the consequences of
US policies in the Muslim World,
Finally the Bush administration must understand that public diplomacy is not the sole responsibility of Karen Hughes and her associates in the State Department. Public diplomacy concerns should underpin how every agency, specially the CIA and the DOD, the American media and civil society leaders, conduct business with the Muslim World.