Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Muslims and Christians Work to Improve Islam’s Image in America | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- “The events of 9/11 added fuel to the fire,” said ex Congressman Paul Findley who believes that the severe status that Muslims suffer from in the United States is a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) conducted a 2005 survey of a 1000 American male and female citizens. The results were presented to media representatives during a press conference that was held in the World Assembly for Muslim Youth (WAMY) in Riyadh.

Results had shown that 25% of American citizens, the same percentage in 2004, believe that Islam is a religion that incites violence and hatred.

The survey had revealed that the segments of American society that are strongly prejudice against Islam and Muslims are the old aged, the less educated, politically conservative and republicans. The survey had also shown that the level of knowledge about Islam has not changed since the last survey was conducted.

Executive Director of CAIR, Nihad Awad, had described the results of the survey as “alarming and disturbing”. He had clarified that the survey was conducted for the sake of understanding the American outlook on Islam and Muslims, as well as identifying the factors that affect the American attitude towards Islam and Muslims and finally to search for solutions to deal with the variables that shape the image of Islam and Muslims and changing them for the better.

During the press conference that was held 20 June 2006, Awad had stated that the campaign to be launched by CAIR will cost an estimated $50 million dollars and is expected to last for five years. In the same context, he called upon Muslim and Arab businessmen to participate in the campaign. The campaign aims to improve the image of Islam and Muslims in the United States, an image that ex-congressman Paul Findley has described as distorted for the past ten years. Findley added, “The distorted image of Muslims has had a clear impact on American foreign policy.”

Even though Findley is a Christian, he decided to join this campaign. He said, “This campaign is important for Muslims as well as non-Muslims.”

The republican ex-congressman stressed the importance of infiltrating the American media due to its impact upon American public opinion. He stated that he faces great difficulty whenever he wants to publish an article that criticizes Israeli policies in American newspapers.

Parvez Ahmed, chairman of the board for CAIR stated that there is a minority in the United States that is concerned with the distortion of the image of Islam and Muslims and it is strong and acknowledged in decision making.

Parvez stated that the accusations waged against Islamic symbols by some figures in the United States are unprecedented. He noted that this has had a fatal impact upon relationships between the United States and Islamic communities.

Parvez Ahmed did not deny that there is a Muslim minority in the United States that aims to defame the image of Islam and Muslims. He highlighted the necessity of condemning extremism in the interest of Muslims and relationships with the west, especially the United States.

Concerning the double standards that are employed by Washington in dealing with Arab causes, Paul Findley stated that as individuals in congress, they have no means to change the thinking of American president George Bush. He expressed his strong discontent with the fact that George Bush is a republican, saying, “Sometimes, I have to apologize for the connection.” Findley added that during the elections in 2000, he had encouraged American Muslims to vote for Bush, however, in 2004, he was one of the strongest opponents against reelecting Bush for presidency for a second term.

He stated that the Bush administration had engaged in two wars after the 11 September attacks however, if American society had understood Islam then, it would not have approved of the actions of the American administration. He said, “It is for this reason that launching this campaign to improve the image of Islam and Muslims in the United States is absolutely essential.”