First published in the Dallas Morning News. Jul 5, 2007

recent poll by the Pew Research Center concluded that American Muslims are “decidedly American in their outlook, values, and attitudes.” Despite such mainstream attitudes, American Muslims remain the subject of profound misunderstandings and deep mistrust. An August 2006 Gallup poll found four in ten Americans admit feeling prejudice toward Muslims. Nearly one in four expressed unwillingness to live next to Muslim neighbors.

This irrational fear, or Islamophobia, leads to discrimination against Muslims, exclusion of Muslims from the sociopolitical process, guilt by association, and even hate crimes. In
2006, American Muslims reported over 2,000 incidents of alleged discrimination and more than 150 hate crime incidents to the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Since the 9/11 terror attacks, acts of discrimination and hate crimes have annually averaged double-digit growth rates.

In recent years, Islamophobia has gained currency in part due to a thesis advanced by Samuel Huntington (and eagerly embraced by neo-conservatives) that presents the inevitability of a “clash of civilizations” between Islam and the West. This thesis makes simple and fatalistic assumptions that the West and Islam are monolithic and culturally exclusive.

In his book “
Lost History,” Michael Morgan makes a powerful case that – far from being culturally exclusive – Islamic civilization “seeded the European Renaissance and enabled many aspects of the modern West and global civilization. It is a history that by the beginning of the 21st century had been forgotten, ignored, misunderstood, suppressed, or even rewritten.”

This rewritten history has allowed those already predisposed to suspicion of Islam to create a climate of extreme prejudice, distrust and fear of Muslims. They fail to recognize that Islam is not monolithic. Muslims throughout their over fourteen hundred year history have often successfully adapted to new realities, or else they and their faith could not have flourished in so many regions of the world spanning so many varied cultures. Islam shares common values with other major faiths, favors peacemaking over violence, and unequivocally rejects killing innocent people, even in warfare.

Profound misunderstandings about Islam allow dismissal of any criticism by Muslims of American policy as reactionary and irrational. In the absence of American Muslim voices in policy making circles Islamophobia is becoming institutionalized, leading to tacit acceptance of discrimination against and profiling of Muslims.

In addition, American Muslims worry about the broader social impact of Islamophobia. Muslim youth grow up learning that plurality, equality and freedom constitute core American values. However, when they see that such ideas do not apply to their own empowerment, they are likely to become disillusioned and alienated.

A recent study sponsored by the
Chicago Council on Global Affairs argues that a well-integrated and empowered Muslim population would better serve the United States as it navigates critical policy challenges involving Muslims both here and abroad.

The report ends with practical solutions calling for expanded partnerships between American Muslims and law enforcement, development of American Muslim leadership network to work with youth, building stronger American Muslim institutions and working with coalitions on common concerns like immigration and health care.

Testifying before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Steven Kull, editor of said, “Muslims share the worldwide view that the US does not live up to its own ideals of international law and democracy….There now seems to be a perception that the US has entered into a war against Islam itself. … 8 in 10 believe that the US seeks to weaken and divide the Islamic world.”

As a nation, we can ill afford the perception that we are at war with a faith practiced by more than a billion people accounting for over a fifth of humanity today.

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, "And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because one's conscience tells one that it is right."

I take guidance from a Quranic verse: “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes so that you may know (not despise) each other.” Promoting mutual understanding, not remaining entrenched in divisive worldviews, ought to guide our conscience. Ignoring it only perils the progression of our American civilization.


Published in the Florida Times Union. Jun 27, 2007

Federal authorities called the alleged terrorist plot to blow up JFK Airport in New York "chilling." They said that if the terrorists were able to carry out their plot, they could have caused "unthinkable" damage to life and property, possibly crippling the U.S. economy.Missing from the announcement was any assessment of the likelihood of such a plot actually coming to fruition. New York Mayor Bloomberg said, "You have a much greater danger of being hit by lightning than being struck by a terrorist." He added, "Get a life!"

Former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski recently asserted that the "war on terror" is causing us infinitely more harm than anything that the fanatical perpetrators of the 9-11 attacks could have ever imagined.A culture of fear has turned America away from being a confident nation to one that is susceptible to panic attacks. As a result, from foreign policy to domestic law enforcement, we see more hype than reason, and more paranoia than realistic concerns.President Franklin Roosevelt once said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Today, our fears are not so much the consequence of realistic threat assessments but rather politically-motivated fear mongering.

The day after the announcement of the JFK plot, I met with John Mueller, who holds the Woody Hayes Chair of National Security Studies at Ohio State University. He recently wrote a book called "Overblown: How Politicians and the Terrorism Industry Inflate National Security Threats, and Why We Believe Them." He spoke about how the JFK plot had all the markings of a "fantasy" and how once again the whole thing appears to be overblown.

President Bush and his supporters keep scaring us by saying that if we do not fight the terrorists in Baghdad they will be attacking us in Boise. If true, what does that say about the billions of dollars we have poured into boosting security measures since 9-11?

Is this a tacit admission that our government cannot protect us despite having assumed constitutionally-questionable powers such as eavesdropping on our conversations, building a wall on our southern frontier, listing over 400,000 names on a terrorist watch list, or making visitors wait months to get their visas for entry as time-consuming security checks are completed?

Terrorists cannot destroy America. They can occasionally produce deadly attacks, but we are too powerful and too resourceful a nation for terrorists to pose an existential threat.The chances of dying in a terrorist attack are 1 in 80,000. According to one study, only the odds of dying from earthquake, flood or firework discharge are lower. We are more likely to die from heart disease or for not wearing a seat belt than from a terrorist attack.

Military analyst William Arkin wrote in the Washington Post: "I think it is intellectually shallow to compare terrorists. . .with our enemies during the Cold War or the Second World War, who could have indeed destroyed our societies. . . .Every time we pretend we are fighting for our survival we not only confer greater power and importance to terrorists than they deserve but we also at the same time act as their main recruiting agent by suggesting that they have the slightest potential for success."

Terrorists and fear mongers will persist, just as they have throughout human history.

I share John Mueller's pessimism that, despite the low odds of terrorists succeeding, "Politicians will be inclined to sanctimoniously to play to those fears…bureaucrats will stoke the same fears. . .The entrepreneurs of the Current Danger industry. . .will first work very hard to sustain and milk the one currently within their grasp. . .And the press…will continue to make sure that what bleeds leads."

The power to change this situation is in the hands of those who choose not to remain silent, despite the unpopularity of drawing attention to the truths articulated by an academic, a former security official, and a mayor, among many others.

We can no longer afford to let agenda-driven hype replace sober re-assessments of international and domestic policies.

Smears are like McCarthyism

The Florida Times-Union
May 10, 2007

The Council on American-Islamic Relations has a long history of positive social and political activism.

Our educational initiatives have opened doors to dialogue and mutual understanding with Americans of all faiths. Yet a recent letter to the editor was published with a provocative but blatantly false headline, "CAIR supports Hamas."

Former President Carter, in a recent CNN interview, said "there's a good chance" that Hamas, which has operated a network of successful social and charitable organizations for Palestinians, could become a nonviolent organization.

After meeting with Hamas leaders, he said, "They told me they want to have a peaceful administration." Should anyone now allege that Carter is a "terrorist" sympathizer because he advocates political dialogue with Hamas? Just as truth is the first casualty of war, so is rationality the first victim when fear overcomes reason.

After attending a CAIR banquet, Rabbi Arthur Waskow (named as one of the 50 most influential rabbis in America) wrote the following in the Philadelphia Jewish Voice: "A larger number of Jews attended as supporters ... I spoke as a religious Jew committed to peace between Israel and Palestine. ... They strongly applauded my remarks about the need for each single one of us members of the family of Abraham to feel personally wounded when any member of the family kills another. Former Ambassador Ed Peck gave the keynote address.

"Some of his family were Jewish, and were murdered in the Holocaust. Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania gave a warm and warmly received speech. He is himself Jewish. ... CAIR strongly condemns terrorist actions, but not whole organizations. ... So CAIR's view is that to condemn the whole organization outright, as distinct from specific terrorist actions, is to demonize all its parts instead of trying to peel away the disgusting actions that CAIR does oppose."

The New York Times on March 14, wrote, "More than one (government official) described the standards used by critics to link CAIR to terrorism as akin to McCarthyism, essentially guilt by association. ...A small band of critics have made a determined but unsuccessful effort to link [CAIR] to Hamas and Hezbollah."

We are comforted by the wise words of the Rev. Martin Luther King: "Our finite disappointments ought not to make us give up on the infinite hope of equality and justice for all people."
Over the years, CAIR has received hundreds of letters of support from elected officials, law enforcement agencies and interfaith leaders.

The statements from these leaders can be found on our Web site (

A recent letter of support signed by 203 Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Baha'i leaders, professors and concerned citizens said, "We could and would have freely and accurately characterized CAIR as a responsible and highly esteemed force for reconciliation and sanity, both in international affairs and in deepening interfaith understanding here in the United States."

People who engage in smear tactics never had the temerity to talk to us or get to know us. Which group should Americans of conscience pay attention to?

This story can be found on at

Is racial profiling OK at airports?

Is it so wrong to racially profile people who are flying?

Lisa, white, Custar, Ohio
I would be nervous if I saw a couple of Middle-Eastern people get on my plane. I think we [whites] should be aware of how the profiling makes others feel, but those who fit the profile should also understand that at the moment it might just be a necessary evil.

Jason, Kiel, Germany
I shouldn't be subject to racial profiling and harassment just to make xenophobic people like you feel safer.

KMW, 22, black/white male, Boston
[Oklahoma City bomber] Timothy McVeigh was a white male in his 20s, so, given the pro-profiling notion, all white males in their 20s should be considered a serious threat to national security.
Dee, Cleveland
People are always complaining about how easy we [Muslims] are getting it. Well, we aren't - we get harassed all the time. There . . . rejoice!
Karim, 27, Arab male,
Los Angeles

Experts say
What if conservative radio host Michael Smerconish, author of Flying Blind (which advocates racial profiling in airports), and Parvez Ahmed, chairman of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and associate professor at the University of North Florida, got together for a nice chat on this?
Well, they didn't. But we did interview them separately, so maybe the banter would go something like this:

Ahmed: "The fear is very legitimate, but we must acknowledge it's a result of lack of knowledge. . . . The flying public should say something if they see something, but not if they see nothing."
Smerconish: "Profiling is absolutely necessary. The FBI says Al-Qaeda is reconstituting itself . . . and their surnames aren't Jones or Smerconish. There are still Arab extremists who threaten us. The common denominator of the 19 [Sept. 11] attackers remains constant."
Ahmed: "If someone is suspicious-looking, yes, pull them aside. But if you simply see a person with a different color, or a beard, that's diverting law enforcement from things of a genuine security concern. That's counterproductive."
Smerconish: "The blue-haired old lady out of Miami with a walker is undeserving of the same level of attention as Abdul flying in from Saudi Arabia. If that offends people, I'm sorry, but we need to use street-smarts and face the fact there are commonalities among those who threaten us."
Ahmed: "Smerconish and others are exploiting our fears. . . . Law enforcement agrees profiling is the wrong way to go based on race. It should be based on suspicious behavior. The process now is so haphazard. Yes, I feel the stares. . . . If a local agent can detain you for hours because he didn't like how you dressed that day, how have you been made safer?"
Smerconish: "Hey, when . . . bald suburban white guys like me start to threaten us, I'll change my tune."

This story can be found on at

Islam has no ties to terrorism
Posted on Sat, May. 05, 2007

Five years into President Bush's declaration of the ''global war on terrorism,'' the latest State Department report shows a 25 percent increase in worldwide terrorist attacks over the previous year. Terrorism is an abominable tactics, not an ideology. Thus declaring ''war'' against it, while politically expeditious, is in reality temerarious, as it only attacks the symptom without addressing the cause.

Global patterns show that terrorism is not exclusive to any one group. Between 1980 and 2003, the world's leader in suicide terrorism has been the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a group that recruits from the predominantly Hindu Tamil population in Sri Lanka. According the Terrorism Knowledge Base (, between 1968 and 2007, the largest purveyors of terrorism have been groups affiliated with communist/socialist or nationalist/separatist ideology.

Despite this, Islam continues to be conflated with terrorism.

The intertwining of political rhetoric with religious imagery by groups like al Qaeda certainly precipitates the notion of some intrinsic link between Islam and terrorism.

Historic links

This perception is greatly assisted by a veritable cottage industry of neo-experts pontificating with great certainty about the cause-effect relationship between Islam and terrorism. Such mischaracterization is at odds with the reality that Islam unequivocally condemns terrorism and advocates the preservation of life, honor and dignity of all human life as a supreme endeavor. Thus, terrorism even when carried out in the name or defense of Islam cannot be called jihad but is rather an unholy war. Robert Pape in his seminal work Dying to Win contends that military occupation, not religious ideology, is the primary enabler of terrorism.

Douglas Streusand and Harry Tunnell of the National Defense University in a recent paper argue that characterizing terrorism committed by Muslims as ''Islamic'' alienates billions of peace loving Muslims worldwide. Using terms like jihadist to describe terrorist misrepresent legitimate Islamic concepts of jihad, which to most Muslims mean striving for good. Calling terrorists jihadists also legitimizes an un-Islamic activity in the eyes of the disenfranchised Muslims, thus aiding recruitment. Developing an alternative vocabulary is a necessary but not sufficient step towards addressing the problem of terrorism.

The State Department report cites continued instability in Iraq as one of the major reasons for the increases in terrorist acts. Terrorism is indeed a consequence of wars of choice such as Iraq, but it also has historic links to other wars of necessity such as the Cold War.

During the Cold War, U.S. financing, recruitment and arming of foreign fighters to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan led not only to Soviet retreat but also its demise. However, the enabling of a culture of drugs to finance the war and the deliberate injection of religious rhetoric to motivate recruits had unintended consequences. Compounding the problem, unlike post World War II Europe, no Marshall Plan was enacted to rebuild Afghanistan where out of a population of roughly 15 million, a million Afghans had died, an additional 1 ½ million were maimed, and five million had become refugees. Amid this death and destruction, with a country littered in drugs and guns, violence became law enabling terrorists to carve out safe havens.

Common-sense methods

Failed states, like occupations, can also breed and incubate terrorism.

To contain terrorism, if not eliminate it, the way forward is to engage in common-sense methods of intelligence gathering without criminalizing entire groups of people, military strategies without resorting to indiscriminate bombings and enabling the emergence of democratic and civic societies by eliminating foreign occupations. Addressing grievances cannot automatically be dismissed as appeasement. Britain succeeded in disarming the IRA by engaging them, not ignoring its demands. In fact, the conversion of terrorist groups into peaceful political movements has often occurred when their rationale for violence ceased to exist.

In a recent Washington Post article, Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security advisor to President Jimmy Carter, called upon moderates, including Muslims, to from a global alliance ''to terminate the political conflicts that spawn terrorism.'' This alliance is only possible when American foreign policy changes course to reflect America's values of liberty and justice for all, with an unwavering commitment to dialogue and diplomacy.

Democracy, Sure but on Whose Terms?

I am writing this from my hotel room in Doha, Qatar where I have been invited to speak at the 7th Doha Forum on Democracy, Development and Free Trade. Back home this event has perhaps not received any public attention. While the smallest of violent event from the Muslim world brings with it instant analysis of the Islamic causality to such violence, the studious efforts of the Muslim world to take steps towards democracy and development are routinely neglected. Also conspicuous by their absence at this event are policy makers from America.

Today was the opening night of the program. The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani opened the forum with an introspective lecture about the need for democracy in the Middle East and his personal disappointment at the slow progress being made towards this goal. Democracy may not be the best form of government, except as Winston Churchill said all other forms have been tried and they failed.

The other major speaker at the event was U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon spoke about his personal observations about the Korean experiment towards democracy and argued that economic development is the pre-cursor to democracy. He probably meant sustained democracy. As the next speaker former Prime Minister of Thailand, Thaksin Chinawatra attested to by citing his own undemocratic removal from power by the military junta was primarily the result of mounting economic problems in Thailand.

Usually the openings of such forums are staid events and one does not expect fireworks. But surprisingly there was a small one. Current leader of the British House of Commons and former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw reiterated President Bush’s view that democracies do not wage wars against each other as one of the rationales for democratization. This provoked an angry response from Amr Moussa, General Secretary of the Arab League when he pointed out the false causality between democracy and peace as democratic regimes (U.S., Britain and Israel) have invaded and occupied foreign lands from Palestine to Iraq.

Therein lies the dilemma of democratization in the Middle East. On one hand Muslims and Arabs admire the freedoms and free enterprise afforded to citizens who live under democracies from India to America. On the other, they note the hypocrisy and double standards when Western leaders refuse to engage with the most freely and fairly elected government in the Middle East, that of the Palestinian Authority. At the same time the protection of human rights, so sacred to democracies, are routinely violated as evidenced by Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and the CIA rendition programs, which are being carried with the support of the undemocratic regimes in Syria, Jordan and Egypt.

One leading Arab journalist recently wrote that one of the leading sources of instability and political economic distortion in the Arab world is the unchecked use of state power, combined with the state’s whimsical ability to use the rule of law for its own political ends. About two years ago the Pew Forum hosted an event called, “
Islam and Democratization in the Middle East.” One of the questions explored was if Islam was the main factor behind the hereditary autocracies of the Arab world and therefore perhaps a major obstacle to democracy? The fact that two-thirds of the Muslim population around the world live and participate in democracies indicates that the faith of Islam is no barrier to democratization. The experience of democracies in countries with large Muslim majority is just as new and imperfect as they are in countries where Islam is not the majority faith.

During my past trip to Doha for the
U.S.-Islamic World Forum sponsored by the Saban Center at Brookings I had met Saad Eddin Ibrahim, Professor of Sociology at the American University in Cairo. In 2000 he was arrested by Egyptian authorities and spent more than 500 days in prison. In 2003 he was acquitted of all charges and released.

When we met 2 years ago, Saad spoke about the how America needs to positively engage with Muslims who hold deep sentiments that their faith ought to inform and guide them in their politics (no different from view of many Conservatives in the U.S. and also an increasing number of Democrats). In a later Pew lecture he cited examples that these Islamists (a term that is commonly used for Muslims who view Islam to be an integral part of politics) have been more effective than their secular predecessor. Turkey's ruling Justice and Development party has been more willing to compromise on Cyprus than its Kemalist secular predecessor. It has also been more accommodating and tolerant toward Kurds. Moreover, the Islamists have not lived up to the urban legend of "one man, one vote, one time" used by many to keep them outside the political process. The appeal of the Islamists is so strong in the Middle East that it is difficult to imagine a viable democratic society without their cooperation. Ostracizing them can radicalize their fringe.

The Quran, in verses 42:38, and 3:159, instructs that the basic principle of governance should be based on "mutual consultation," or shura. Islamic scholars say shura contains three essential elements - equal rights for all citizens, majority rule for public policy and the promotion of justice and human dignity.

Yet another inspiration for governance comes from the life of Islam's exemplar - the Prophet Muhammad, who on his deathbed refused to appoint a successor, sending a clear message that it is up to the people to decide how they wish to be governed. After the Prophet's death, shura was used to elect the next head of state.

The Prophet Muhammad, like the Biblical prophets David and Solomon, was also the head of a state, although not a king. Among his first acts as head of state was to draft a constitution. The
constitution or charter of Madinah provided a pluralistic framework involving due rights and protection for all people who were governed by the state. Signatories to the constitution included several religious minorities, whereby each side retained its identity, customs and internal relations. The constitution also contained its own bill of rights including guarantees for freedom of religion.

World Values Survey conducted between 2000 and 2002 gives some practical insights into Muslim attitudes towards democratization. About 68 percent of respondents in both Western countries and Muslim majority nations strongly disagree that democracies are indecisive and have trouble keeping order, and 61 percent in both societies strongly disagree that it's best for a country to have a powerful leader who decides what to do without bothering about elections and government procedures. Over 85 percent strongly agree that democracy may have problems but it's better than any other form of government.

Islam can be a source of inspiration in governance but certainly does not have to be an exclusive source. The Prophet Muhammad characterized believers as people who accept wisdom no matter what its source. This principle served Islam and humanity well in Spain where Muslim egalitarianism formed the basis of an impressive civilization based on knowledge, rational inquiry and tolerance, eventually becoming the precursor to Europe's Renaissance.

Democracy will come to the Middle East, sooner than later. The people and their faith demand it. The question is which model serves America’s interest best – violent imposition of democracy as in Iraq or ostracizing it as in Palestine or supporting its organic growth by being intellectually and diplomatically engaged, something for which we have not expended a great deal of our resources . Judging by the reactions of the people I meet in this region, undoubtedly, the latter is our best chance to bring the world back from the brink of a clash of civilization to the la convivencia of mutual respect and understanding.


by Parvez Ahmed

A recent Wall Street Journal column ("Islam's Other Radicals," 3/6/07) by Brett Stephens promotes the idea that only those who have "left" Islam have the moral and spiritual equilibrium to "reform" that faith. An idea that germinated in the controversial and discredited "Intelligence Summit" hosted in St. Petersburg, Florida. Besides the fact that summit sponsors were accused of committing IRS rules violation (Intelligence conference draws criticism, St. Petersburg Times, 3/6/07), the occasion drew an amalgam of extreme right-wing and neo-con voices who touted as role models of ‘reform’ those who are deep in their hostility to Islam. One such self-described ‘reformer’ Wafa Sultan said, "Believe me, personally, I don't believe Islam really can be reformed...I don't see any difference between radical Islam and regular Islam...You cannot be American and Muslim at the same time."

Even ignoring the counterintuitive premise that Islam needs to be reformed by people who openly disdain Islam, the champions of ‘reform’ offered precious few details if such a preposterous idea ever helped reform any other faith? Effective change always comes from within at the hands of those of love and practice the faith. Martin Luther was successful with his reform agenda because he was a practicing Christian who had an established track record of devotion to his faith. So too with Islam.

However, the pernicious idea of reforming Islam by asking Muslims to abandon their faith continues to be promoted in several influential circles including but not limited to the mainstream media. The Wall Street Journal and CNN editorialized this "Intelligence Summit" despite the activity being admittedly financed by a person with alleged ties to the Russian mafia and who is barred entry into the United States.

Two unmistakable trend accounts for this. The first is the unchallenged growth of Islamophobia. Four out of 10 Americans admit to being prejudiced against Muslims. Such sentiments have relegated American Muslims to second class citizenship with their faith the subject of paranoia and ridicule. Secondly, the development of a veritable cottage industry of neo-experts pontificating with great certainty the cause-effect relationship between Islam and terrorism despite scholarly research clearly debunking this myth. The new prophets of gloom and doom care little about facts, for the facts get in their way of "bash and cash" profiting from fear mongering.

Even reputable institutions are susceptible to becoming victims of this pervasive Islamophobia. Take for example, CNN talk show host Glenn Beck asking the first ever Muslim congressman, "'Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies." When this was brought up to CNN’s attention their excuse was that Beck is not a news reporter and thus exempt from any journalistic code of ethics. Could the fact that Beck is the highest rated show on the network contribute to CNN’s reluctance to use editorial discretion?

America has a come a long way. Anti-Semitism, racism, sexism are all rightfully frowned upon but perplexingly Islamophobia is tolerated and encouraged. Islamophobia leads to discriminations against Muslims, exclusion of Muslims from mainstream political or social process, stereotyping and guild by association, and even hate crimes. This undermines America’s vital interests, for as a nation we are served best when the mosaic of our multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious communities all have equal access, equal respect and equal dignity. Unfortunately the fact that Muslim bashing is profitable gets in the way of this higher calling.

No one denies that Muslim societies, like any other, require constant reform. The fact that fifty-seven Muslim majority countries combined have fewer universities than those in Japan alone is motivation enough for urgent reform. But this malaise affecting Muslim societies is not because of their faith. To the contrary, Islam emphasizes the pursuit of knowledge as a noble goal with Prophet Muhammad declaring that scholars are the inheritors of prophets. Islam also encompasses within its jurisprudence and institutions the concept of reform, known as "islah" in Arabic. Reform and adaptation have always been part of the Islamic ethos. For without such built-in flexibility, Islam could not have flourished in so many different continents and cultures for over fourteen centuries, creating on many occasions and in many places some of the brightest points of human achievement.

If the goal is truly to reform Muslims (and not one-upmanship) then well wishers need to partner with those Muslims who have demonstrated love for their faith and who are symbiotically connected to their communities. America will be best served if the mainstream American Muslim community, which recent polls show to be highly educated, well integrated and patriotic Americans, is taken as full partners in this quest for reforming Muslim societies. If appropriately engaged the Americans will find in its Muslim citizens their finest ambassadors for advancing the universal values peace, freedom and justice for all.