Bridging the Divide
The Brookings Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, housed under the auspices of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, is a major research program founded in Fall 2001. It was designed to respond to some of the profound questions that the attacks of September 11th raised for U.S. policy. In particular, it seeks to examine how the United States can reconcile its need to eliminate terrorism and reduce the appeal of extremist movements with its need to build more positive relations with Muslim states and communities around the world. One of its major activities is the U.S.-Islamic World Forum, a global leaders conference that brings together key U.S. and Muslim world policymakers and opinion-shapers, including a session at the 2004 Forum on the Muslim American community.
In seeking to improve relations between the United States and the Muslim world, it is important to remember the potential role of the growing community of Muslim Americans. There is an emerging consensus among the American policy community as well as leadership within the traditional Muslim world, that this community constitutes an important common ground between Islam and the West. Thus, a pertinent policy question is the role that the American Muslim community might play in helping bridge the growing divide between the United States and the Islamic world.
On December 13th, the Project will seek to convene key leaders and experts to explore the potential role that the American Muslim community might play in advancing and improving overall U.S. foreign policy. Representatives from the wide variety of American Muslim groups, American Muslim foreign policy experts, and the DC thinktank and policy community will all be invited. The session will explore the potential space for the American Muslim community to assist and advance U.S. relations with the Islamic world, capabilities within the community that might be better tapped, and the role that the American Muslim community is playing in American politics and the shaping of foreign policy.
Our hope is that this first meeting on such an vital but under-explored issue will serve as both a convening and catalyst. Not only will it serve to inform on-going research and policy, but also will hopefully connect key players and spur development of potential positive avenues of cooperation and outreach with the Muslim world.
Bridging the Divide
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