Focus Article: Time to Embrace the Muslim World as a Partner, not an Enemy
by Hadia Mubarak
A shift in U.S. foreign policy that embraces the Muslim world as a partner rather than an enemy is not only possible, but is necessary for the future interests of humanity. For the last eight years, our government has been besieged by an obstinate refusal to recognize our country’s role in creating many of the grievances that exist in the Muslim world and addressing those grievances. It is a tragic reality that for at least the past five decades, our country has supported authoritarian regimes in the Middle East, turned a blind eye to Palestinian suffering and Israeli aggression, and used heavy military force against a number of Muslim countries including Iraq, Afghanistan and northern Pakistan.
Walk on any street in any Muslim country today and nearly everyone, from the cab driver and fruit vendor to the journalist and academic, will list off the same grievances they have towards the U.S.: 1) the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan in the name of ‘freedom;’ 2) the U.S. providing Israel with unconditional support, foreign aid and military equipment while Israel expands illegal settlements in the West Bank, builds walls that cut off Palestinians from their farmland, and indiscriminately uses military force against Palestinian civilians; 3) Islamo-phobic rhetoric that paints the religion of 1.5 billion Muslims as violent, fascist and oppressive.
During my extensive field research with Professor Akbar Ahmad in Syria, Jordan, Qatar, Pakistan, India and Turkey in 2006, we found that anti-Americanism in the Muslim world was at an unprecedented high. We interviewed and conducted questionnaires with over a thousand Muslims who represented all ends of the religious and ideological spectrum, such as government officials, Islamic party leaders, intellectuals, journalists, feminists and university students. One of our most important findings (which were published in Journey into Islam: The Crisis of Globalization) revealed that anti-Americanism in the Muslim world is not driven by hatred of U.S. values, but U.S. policies in the region (a finding confirmed by Gallup’s polling in the Muslim world).
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