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The Common Ground News Service, June 7, 2005

Common Ground News Service - Partners in Humanity (CGNews-PiH)
June 7, 2005

The Common Ground News Service - Partners in Humanity (CGNews-PiH) is distributing the enclosed articles to build bridges of understanding between the West and the Arab World and countries with predominately Muslim populations. Unless otherwise noted, all copyright permissions have been obtained and the articles may be reproduced by any news outlet or publication free of charge. If publishing, please acknowledge both the original source and CGNews, and notify us at cgnewspih@sfcg.org.


1. " Syrian reformers try to keep the pressure on" by Rhonda Roumani
Rhonda Roumani, a freelance writer living in Syria and former Islam producer
at Beliefnet, considers the state of Syria leading up to the Ba'ath Party congress meeting and evaluates the potential for reform with or without help from the United States.
(Source: The Christian Science Monitor, May 25, 2005)

2. "Turkey's dreams to join EU grow less likely despite assurances " by Michael Glackin
Michael Glackin, managing director for the Daily Star, investigates European criticism to Turkey joining the EU and the increasing frustration at home as their reform measures are seen as "not enough".
(Source: The Daily Star, May 30, 2005)

3. "War, journalists, and cultural blunders" by Frank Kaufmann
Frank Kaufmann, director of the office of inter-religious relations of the Inter-Religious and International Federation for World Peace, discusses the impact of "cultural blunders" in Western news and editorial cartoons that reach global audiences and calls for true inter-cultural and interreligious respect and collaboration as the solution to the high costs of some of these words and pictures.
(Source: Middle East Times, May 22, 2005)

4. "US and the Muslim World: There Are Still Possibilities for Mending Fences" by
William Fisher
William Fisher, a freelance writer and regular contributor to Arab News, argues that months after the U.S. Administration's acknowledgement of the for better communication between the US and the Muslim World, negative images of America still abound in predominantly Muslim countries. He considers the recent report "A New Beginning: Strategies for a More Fruitful Dialogue with the Muslim World" and highlights some of the constructive steps that still need to take place.
(Source: Arab News, May 28, 2005)


"Of Desecration, Democracy, and Demonstrations" by Maha El Dahan
Maha El Dahan, a freelance journalist currently based in Cairo, looks at youth responses to the recent allegations of abuse to the Koran in Guatanamo Bay and asks why Egyptian young people seemed to be the last to react.
(Source: Search for Common Ground, June 7, 2005)

Of Desecration, Democracy, and Demonstrations
Maha El Dahan

A report published by Newsweek in its May 9 edition about the abuses taking place in Guantanamo Bay prison had the Muslim world up in arms demonstrating against the desecration of the Koran. Or did it?

The controversy, initiated by less than a sentence stating that the Koran had been mishandled and flushed down a toilet, instigated violent protests in Afghanistan, where 16 were reported dead. Images of angry bearded young men, veiled women, young children, and old sheiks chanting anti-American slogans while burning American flags were broadcast the world over. For the average observer, Muslims were outraged and had taken their anger to the streets. But in Egypt, when asked about their feelings on the issue, many youth answered with a question; "I haven't been following that story, so can you brief me on what exactly happened?"

"Whenever I see yet another story about these violations on the news, I just switch channels. It is too depressing and it is the same thing over and over again so why should I bother?" asks Hanaa, a recent political science graduate from Cairo University. But is it simply apathy that has stopped Egyptian youth from reacting more visibly to the desecration of one of their most important religious symbols, or is there more?

Newsweek later retracted its statement, and by May 26, Guantanamo Bay prison commander Brigadier General Jay Hood made a statement explaining that the Koran had been mishandled on five different occasions since late 2001, according to investigations, but not flushed down the toilet. However, the retraction and the subsequent recognition of the abuses by the U.S. administration did not calm things down. By the next day, demonstrations broke out in Morocco, Lebanon, Malaysia, Jordan, Pakistan and, for the first time since the whole fiasco started, in Egypt.

The Egyptians took quite a long time to react though: more than two weeks. Before that reactions came in the form of statements issued by the Grand Sheikh of Al Azhar, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Arab League condemning the act and demanding apologies. And when the demonstrations did finally come, they were not propelled by Egyptian youth from different backgrounds, but were organized by a single group, the Muslim Brotherhood.

"The desecration of the Koran crosses all the red lines and the demonstrations that took place in Cairo and Alexandria reflect the feelings of the whole Egyptian population," argued Mohamed Habib, first deputy to the Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brothers. If they do indeed reflect the feelings of a nation, why weren't these feelings reflected more widely?

"There are so many reports about so many abuses that people eventually become a bit reluctant to react. When David Letterman makes fun of the whole incident on his show and says that Muslims already hate Americans and asks why this incident should matter, that shows how stereotypical their [Americans'] whole image of us has become and how frustrating it is sometimes to fight it," says Hatem Ali, a former student activist and a computer science graduate of the American University in Cairo (AUC).

Bahaa Ezz El Arab is a political science senior at the American University in Cairo. Politically active and having taken part in many a demonstration before, he makes the point that although the reports on the desecration of the Koran disturbed him, "what they are doing to human beings is much more important than what they are doing to books." He explains how, "[r]eports about the abuses in Abu Ghraib, for example, hurt me much more."

There is a feeling that the desecration of the Koran is just one in a long line of abuses that have been taking place for quite some time now. It is not that the act was not shameful, more that it came as no surprise considering what had been taking place already.

The lack of an active reaction towards the desecration might have been caused by more than a sense of general frustration at the U.S. administration, though. Recently, Egyptians have been more occupied by what is happening inside their country than outside.

When asked about why the Muslim Brothers failed to express their anger at the desecration sooner, Habib explained, "We had a referendum and a constitutional amendment to worry about. Internally a lot is happening."
A constitutional amendment initiated by President Mubarak February 28, which will allow Egyptians to choose their president from amongst more than one candidate for the first time in history, has propelled much controversy. While the amendment passed in a referendum May 25, main opposition parties boycotted the referendum altogether, stating that it was a sham, a show for the U.S. administration, and that the government was not serious enough about reform.

The government has responded with violent crackdowns on opposition the day of the referendum and continual arrests of the members of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Kefaya, or 'Enough' movement, which calls for ending the political stagnation that is leading to economic and societal deterioration. Their main slogan is "No 5th term [for Hosni Mubarak], and no inheritance for Gamal [Mubarak]."

"I have demonstrated with Kefaya in front of the Press Syndicate, as I believe it was a way of expressing my opinion about the current situation in Egypt," says Ezz El Arab. Internal political reform may be more of a priority to Egyptian youth and a more pressing cause for demonstration. Some would like to take the matter beyond just random demonstrations every now and then. Shady Iskak, son of George Iskak, who coordinates the Kefaya movement, is a student in the third year of Egypt's Cinema Institute. He thinks, "The demonstrations of Kefaya are enough to initiate a democratic reform process in Egypt. We have to reach out to the average Egyptian citizen, taxi drivers for example, and spread the awareness to them about why they should press for reform to change their current conditions."

So while the initial lack of reaction to the desecration by Egyptian youth might indicate a state of apathy, the situation is actually more complex than that. Frustration with U.S. policy in the region is one of the factors that might be forcing Egyptian youth to take a closer look at what is happening internally that makes them unable to protect their culture, identity, and their religious symbols on the international scene. Ironically, Bush's plan for initiating democratic reform in the region through his war on Iraq might just work, and not because he is spreading his 'democratic' ideals, rather the opposite.

*Maha El Dahan is a freelance journalist currently based in Cairo. She graduated with a BA in International Relations from the American University in Cairo (AUC) in 2002 and earned her MA in Professional Development in 2004 from the same institution.
Source: Search for Common Ground Commissioned Article, June 7, 2005
Distributed by the Common Ground News Service - Partners in Humanity.
Copyright permission has been obtained for publication.

Syrian reformers try to keep the pressure on
Rhonda Roumani

DAMASCUS, SYRIA "The international pressure directed at Syria after the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Harir helped end this country's domination of its neighbor. But even as the United Nations certified on Monday that all Syrian troops and intelligence agents had left Lebanon, activists here hope the international spotlight on Damascus doesn't dim.

Some speculate that Lebanon's Cedar Revolution that erupted after Mr. Hariri's death could begin to inspire a Jasmine Revolution, named for the plant that blooms throughout the country, to press for democratic change in Syria. And these activists insist that US pressure on President Bashar al-Assad's regime is crucial to their success.

"A large reason that reformers are looking to the US to put pressure on [Syria] is that it gives them cover to put pressure from below," says Joshua Landis, a Damascus-based specialist on Syria.

"They can say we need radical change to protect the nation because if we don't do this, Americans will come in with a two-by-four and try to destabilize Syria," he says.

In an address to parliament in March, Mr. Assad announced there would be a "great leap" in internal affairs. And there was speculation that at the upcoming Baath Party congress in June members would discuss the eradication of Article 8 of the constitution, which placed authority in the hands of the Baath Party since 1963, legalize political parties, and provide full amnesty to political prisoners and exiles.

But while there is hope that long-awaited reforms may be coming, activists say they doubt the government is willing to institute real change on its own.

Tuesday eight members of the Jamal al-Atassi Forum, a pro-democracy group, were arrested for their involvement in delivering a speech on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood. Membership in the Brotherhood has been a capital offense in Syria since 1980, when the government defeated a revolt by Islamic militants.

Assad, who remains relatively popular, has long been viewed by Syrians as a leader whose hands have been tied by the "old guard" in the government who are opposed to change.

"Expectations [for change] were raised tremendously and now there is a lot of disappointment," says Sami Moubayed, a Syrian political analyst based in Damascus. "Officials have been working to tone down the expectations. There will be no law to amend article eight of the constitution. There will be no wide-scale amnesty."

Analysts and officials now say the congress will discuss legalizing political parties that are not religious or ethnic in nature, minimizing the role of the Baath Party, and changing the country's print law, which governs the press and establishing municipal elections by 2007.

And while hopes for substantial reform are beginning to wane, Syrian reformers and opposition figures - even those who oppose US policy in Middle East - are still counting on international pressure on Syria.

"If this pressure continues up to the conference, the decisions that come out of the conference will not be because of internal political decisions or internal ideological changes within the party," says Omar Amiralay, a filmmaker whose most recent film, "A Flood in Baath Country," takes a cutting jab at the role of the Baath Party in the country. "Any announced reforms are going to be the result of individual decisions and that will depend on the strength of the external pressure."

But the pressure coming from Washington is now largely aimed at Syria's alleged role in the Iraqi insurgency, charges that continue to rattle US-Syria relations. Syria's swift withdrawal of its troops and security forces from Lebanon last month after the assassination of the popular Mr. Hariri in February did little to improve relations with the Bush administration.

The Syrian ambassador to the US, Imad Moustapha, said last week that Syria has stopped all cooperation with the United States military and the Central Intelligence Agency because of Washington's charges that Damascus is still aiding the Iraqi insurgency, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

Over the past two years, analysts say, US pressure on Syria was largely aimed at regime compliance, rather than regime change.

But that perception is changing, and many here now believe that US aims in Syria are moving toward destabilizing the regime - a policy that even the most adamant opposition leaders and activists say would be dangerous and could lead to civil strife.

"I'm afraid that under US pressure, the regime would collapse and we'd have a situation like in Iraq, but without an invasion, without a war, just from pressure," says Louay Hussein, a writer and opposition figure. Syria, a predominantly Sunni Muslim country, has large populations of Alawites, Christians, Kurds, and Druze, among others.

"The better alternative would be for someone within the government to offer reforms," he says.

Opposition activists argue that reform is possible only if the regime abolishes the country's 42-year-old emergency law, which has kept the country in a state of martial law since 1963, gets rid of Article 8 of the constitution, and if freedoms of expression and association are guaranteed.

"People want to see important systemic changes, but in their hearts most people suspect that any changes will only be window dressing," says Landis. "Nonetheless, they are being kept on the edge of their seats."

The rate at which reforms move this time around, analysts argue, may be the key to maintaining the legitimacy of the government and warding off further US pressure. Many believe that this is the last chance for their government to shape up and get the backing of their populace.

"Things have been going too slowly," says one government reformer and analyst.

"People are fed up with slogans," he adds, "but they will also not put up with military force from the outside. The worst thing that could happen now is if the Baath Party Congress results in gradual reform."

*Rhonda Roumani is a freelance writer living in Syria and former Islam producer
at Beliefnet. This article the article was printed before the Baath Party congress meeting.
Source: The Christian Science Monitor, May 25, 2005
Visit The Christian Science Monitor at www.csmonitor.com.
Distributed by the Common Ground News Service - Partners in Humanity.
Copyright is owned by the Christian Science Monitor. Please contact lawrenced@csps.com for permission

Turkey's dreams to join EU grow less likely despite assurances
Michael Glackin

The European Union spent most of last week desperately trying to reassure Turkey that its dream of joining the 25 nation bloc is still alive. But the truth is Ankara's long-held ambitions to join Europe's exclusive club were holed below the water last week. Negotiations with Ankara are scheduled to begin on October 3, but uncertainty over yesterday's referendum on the EU constitution in France and elections in Germany are likely to scupper talks before they even start.

The European Commission insisted last week there is no immediate concern and Turkey is set to keep its October date. In theory the decision to open negotiations is irreversible, since every EU state signed up to it. But in the real world, the world where political leaders are accountable to their electorate, a very different scenario is unfolding.

French voters looked set last night to reject the EU constitution, a rejection that is partly fueled by public opposition to Turkey's entry into the EU.

France has always been hostile to Turkish EU membership. In a desperate bid win yesterday's referendum, French President Jacques Chirac insisted that a "yes" vote for the constitution would make it harder for Turkey to become an EU member. Chirac told anyone willing to listen that Ankara "still has a long way to go," particularly now the EU is "affirming its values" with a constitution. And just in case anyone remains in doubt, Chirac has already promised to hold a referendum in France before admitting Turkey into the EU fold.

If that wasn't enough to upset Ankara, this month's political turmoil in Germany added to its woes. Eight days ago Ankara's biggest supporter in the EU, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democratic government lost a crucial regional election in Germany. The loss forced Schroeder to call for national elections to be brought forward by a year, a move which many believe will propel to power Germany's conservative Christian Democrats, who are firmly opposed to Turkey's European Union bid.

News of Schroeder's early election announcement sent a shiver through Turkey's financial sector. Istanbul's stock market plunged 4.5 percent the following day, while the Turkish lira slumped almost 1 percent against the euro.

Just in case anyone thought the prospect of government might soften their views, Angela Merkel, the Christian Democrat leader, took pains last week to reiterate her opposition to Turkey's EU bid, insisting that the country be offered no more than a "privileged partnership." Meanwhile former Christian Democrat leader and current head of the party's powerful Bavarian wing, Edmund Stoiber, said he would do "everything within his legal power" to keep Turkey out.

In short any German election campaign is likely to turn into a debate about Turkey's EU membership.

The Christian Democrats have pledged to honor the membership talks. But if Merkel becomes chancellor next September, just a few weeks before Turkey's negotiations are scheduled to begin, Ankara is likely to be embarking on a long and tortuous road which may well leave it further away than ever from its goal of EU membership. Lest we forget, Croatia's much touted membership talks earlier this year were put on hold after the EU raised concerns about its compliance with the Hague war crimes tribunal.

But even allowing for the likely result of yesterday's vote in France and Germany's internal woes, Ankara still has some high hurdles to jump.

Turkey's Parliament finally passed a revised penal code last Friday, one of the key conditions for EU talks to begin. But a number of European officials were unimpressed, citing worries over the "vague wording" of many of the amendments.

Meanwhile, Turkey has only four months to sign a protocol extending the EU-Turkey customs union to the 10 new EU members that joined last year, who include of course the divided island of Cyprus. Turkey insists it is ready and willing to sign up to the protocol but the defacto recognition of the Greek Cypriot government is still not an easy political sell at home. And just to add fuel to the fire, Greek Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos keeps reminding his countrymen that he can veto Turkey's entry at any time.

Against this background it's little wonder that an increasingly large number of Turks are getting tired of what they see as never ending concessions which are failing to get them nearer the entry door to EU membership.

Turkey has come a long way in improving its human rights record and its treatment of Kurds and other minorities. But it has further to travel to come up to the accepted European norms. Pictures beamed around the world last March of Turkey's less than liberal policemen violently breaking up a women's day protest have hardly helped persuade EU waverers on the merits of Turkish membership.

By the end of this year Ankara may well have to settle for less than EU full membership. But would that be such a tragedy? The work Turkey has done to make itself compatible to EU membership will not be wasted. Economic reform has made it the darling of the emerging markets. Last year Turkey posted its third consecutive year of growth and now boasts single-digit inflation for the first time in decades. The lot of the average Turk is improving, and even if the new legal code remains somewhere short of perfect, it is a huge improvement, particularly for those women whom the world saw getting clobbered by the police, on its predecessor.

Whether Turkey gets into the EU or not, its leaders cannot turn back the clock, even if Europe's politicians want to.

* Michael Glackin is the managing editor of The Daily Star.
Source: The Daily Star, May 30, 2005
Visit the Daily Star, www.dailystar.com.lb.
Distributed by the Common Ground News Service - Partners in Humanity.
Copyright permission has been obtained for publication.

War, journalists, and cultural blunders
Frank Kaufmann

NEW YORK -- The near thorough removal of all communications boundariesin our contemporary world is unprecedented. Incendiary Arabic language sermons quickly circulate among American conservatives, and insults to Islam are heard instantly in remote cities and villages from Peshawar to Kuala Lumpur. We do not yet have habits of mind that match this new reality. Debate, reactions, and analyses struggle to transcend traditional categories. As such they do not shed light. Wholesome responses and solutions elude us.

Last week two privately owned corporations, namely Newsweek Inc. (a Washington Post company), and the Washington Times sparked high intensity, international incidents. In one there was even loss of life. Newsweek ran a half sentence on desecrating the Koran causing a worldwide firestorm including riots and death, and the Washington Times ran an objectionable and embarrassing cartoon. The half sentence and the cartoon caused problems of towering gravity and consequence. Very little is similar between the two cases other than that they both had to do with the incredibly fragile relations between "the West" and "Islam".

The Times peccadillo came and went somehow waning despite the paper's odd non-apology about "man's best friend". Perhaps the more horrifying series of events surrounding the Newsweek half sentence knocked the legs out from under the Times' troubles.

Analysis of these phenomena should concentrate on two most important aspects:
1. The immediate politicization of the problem and virtually all commentary that followed.
2. The clear evidence that cultural ignorance a) abounds, and b) has dire consequences in this age of instant communication.

David Brooks described the politicization well in his May 19 New York Times editorial. The Newsweek problem called for quick, genuine, and creative solutions. Instead we were buried under the hype and barrage of finger pointing and blame from all sides. Then, instead of searching for creative, urgently needed solutions, we are made cross-eyed by yet another round of media narcissism obsessing on itself in the tiring minutiae of journalism standards, use of sources and other shop talk.

These are all red herrings even though the real problem is plain. What the Newsweek blunder showed, more than confusion over the use of sources, was the simple fact that almost no non-Muslim Americans naturally know how the Koran truly functions in Muslim life and piety.
Why wasn't our ignorance of the one of the most basic facts of Muslim piety the immediate focus of our national conversation? (Same with the offensive "dog" cartoon. How many non-Muslim Americans know how dogs are viewed in Muslim culture?)

Yes, the question of single source and anonymous source reporting is interesting. Yes, the question of media responsibility in a "time of war" is interesting. Surely the question of prisoner rights is interesting, and all are extremely important. The most frightful revelation however shown by the "Newsweek horrors" is that the cost of cultural and religious ignorance in a world of instant communication is at an all time high, and can no longer be ignored or left unattended. The solution to this problem does not lie in blaming newspapers, interrogators, or militants. It is a complex problem that should be approached by all communities and leaders unencumbered by the poison of blame and politicization.

The second major problem revealed in these events has to do with a near impossible effort to divide a "foreign" cultural sphere into an enemy half and an allied half. To presume that one can simply divide into "good guys and bad guys," a 1-billion-person international community grounded in 1,400 years of complex and opaque processes and evolution is silly on the face of it.

Islamic history, theology, jurisprudence, political philosophy, and the profound and subtle evolution of its schools of interpretations, its political and theological development, its own debated issues of expansion, modernization, race and gender issues and more takes patience and understanding to intuit. To think that one can do this on the cheap, and further to think this is possible under the defining context of military alliances and national self-interest is in a word, impossible, and should be unthinkable.

Until the alliance between the United States and forward looking Muslim thinkers, countries, and leaders is one that transcends military purposes, and grows to become one of mutual embrace, and until the centuries long slide of modernity into the secularization that misses religion as a vital to the human experience is reversed, we are bound to continue suffering from the results of self-imposed ignorance.

We may not always have Michael Isikoff [the Newsweek reporter who wrote the article] to blame for our own sins. The next half sentence might be my own.

Only a starting point of true inter-cultural and interreligious respect and collaboration can start to dampen the flames of violence couching ever ready at the doors of instant global communication.

*Frank Kauffmann is the director of the office of inter-religious relations of the Inter-Religious and International Federation for World Peace, which was founded by Rev. Sun Myung Moon. This article appeared in the World Peace Herald.
Source: Middle East Times, May 22, 2005
Visit the Middle East Times at www.metimes.com.
Distributed by the Common Ground News Service - Partners in Humanity.
Copyright permission has been obtained for publication.

US and the Muslim World: There Are Still Possibilities for Mending Fences
William Fisher

As parts of the Muslim world continued to demonstrate its hostility to the US on the heels of a Newsweek magazine article charging that a copy of the Qur'an was flushed down a toilet, America's premiere foreign policy organization issued a new report claiming that better communications could still win Muslim hearts and minds.

But the report, issued by the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations, said better US communications will require "listening more, a humbler tone, and focusing on bilateral aid and partnership, while tolerating disagreement on controversial policy issues," as well as substantial funding and effort.

Newsweek reported that it was told by an unnamed source that evidence of desecration of the Qur'an would be included in an upcoming government report on events at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The source later turned out to be unreliable, and Newsweek retracted its story.

The CFR report - "A New Beginning: Strategies for a More Fruitful Dialogue with the Muslim World" - is based on the results of focus group research in Morocco, Egypt, and Indonesia. The research was carried out by Craig Charney and Nicole Yakatan of Charney Research.

The report points out that in all three countries, images of the United States are dominated by resentment of American power and anger directed at President George W. Bush - negative attitudes that spill over to American brands and people. "Perceptions matter: Most Muslims do not hate America for 'who we are' or 'what we do', but for what they perceive we do."

The council said, "Muslim views of the United States as domineering and hostile reflect relentless local reporting on Iraq, Palestine, and purported negative American attitudes toward Muslims, along with ignorance of US aid programs to the region and US support for regional reform."

Reports on television networks largely hostile to the United States are Muslims' main source of information; US government-sponsored media (Al-Hurra TV and Radio Sawa) have little impact in the region.

The effects of unfavorable media coverage are reinforced by stereotypes about the US decision-making process, particularly about alleged Jewish influence on US foreign policy.

However, the report finds, America currently has a window of opportunity to change Muslim attitudes.

Positive impressions about tsunami relief efforts in Indonesia, Iraq's recent election, and new Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts are providing the second Bush administration a chance for a fresh start.

"Rather than trying - and failing - to persuade Muslims to support American policies in Iraq or Palestine", the report says, "the United States should publicize its significant development aid to their lands, which, despite soaring aid budgets, is almost invisible to them."

Other commentators have taken a different view.

"The US government can repackage its policies all it wants, but people will see through the words as long as the US government continues to treat the region simply as a means to an end: Strategic control over oil," said Brian Foley, a professor at the Florida Coastal Law School in Jacksonville, Florida.

And Jack N. Behrman, professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina and former assistant secretary of commerce, said, "Nothing in the PR or public diplomacy arena can offset the acts of the US and the statements of Bush himself, which remain dictatorial, arrogant, and insensitive to the Arab world and it peoples. AID remains locked into its old-style assistance and cannot apparently focus on the fundamental, long-term needs there - namely education, development of enterprise, and employment opportunities, plus openings to the world economy. Joining the world community gives hope, but it must be done while permitting cultural differences - so long as they do not include intolerance from any quarter."

The CFR report says, "When focus group members learned of US aid efforts - via media reports on tsunami relief in Indonesia or support for women's rights in Morocco - it significantly improved their attitudes toward the United States".

Although the seriousness of the anti-American attitudes has won growing recognition, neither public nor private efforts have addressed Muslim hostility to America with the sustained focus or resources required, the CFR said.

Among the report's recommendations:
* Focus on partnerships in support of local Muslim initiatives, without presenting the United States as the motor of change.
* Agree to disagree on contentious issues involving other countries, such as Iraq or Israel and Palestine.
* Engage local and regional media via press releases, interviews, Op-Eds, press conferences, and site visits.
* Launch an advertising campaign on US aid and support for reform in local and regional media, and acknowledge the US government as the source.
* Improve reporting of aid programs, particularly those concerning economic, education, and health aid, in US government media.

The CFR research found that immediate reactions to the United States reveal resentment of American power and of President George W. Bush. American behavior is perceived as being largely predatory. The report said this hostility is spilling over into negative attitudes toward American people and brands.

* William Fisher is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Arab News.
Source: Arab News, May 28, 2005
Visit Arab News at www.arabnews.com
Distributed by the Common Ground News Service - Partners in Humanity.
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Posted by Evelin at June 8, 2005 12:29 AM