What you think you know about them is likely wrong and that's dangerous.
Winning hearts and minds - the Bush administration, foreign policy wonks, even the U.S. military agree that this is the key to any victory over global terrorism. Yet our public diplomacy program has made little progress on improving America's image. Few seem to recognize that American ignorance of Islam and Muslims has been the fatal flaw.
How much do Americans know about the views and beliefs of Muslims around the world? According to polls, not much. Perhaps not surprising, the majority of Americans (66%) admit to having at least some prejudice against Muslims; one in five say they have "a great deal" of prejudice. Almost half do not believe American Muslims are "loyal" to this country, and one in four do not want a Muslim as a neighbor.
Why should such anti-Muslim bias concern us? First, it undermines the war on terrorism: Situations are misdiagnosed, root causes are misidentified and bad prescriptions do more harm than good. Second, it makes our public diplomacy sound like double-talk. U.S. diplomats are trying to convince Muslims around the world that the United States respects them and that the war on terrorism is not out to destroy Islam. Their task is made infinitely more difficult by the frequent airing of anti-Muslim sentiment on right-wing call-in radio, which is then heard around the world on the Internet.
Finally, public ignorance weakens our democracy at election time. Instead of a well-informed citizenry choosing our representatives, we are rendered vulnerable to manipulative fear tactics. We need look no further than the political attacks on Barack Obama. Any implied connection to Islam - attending a Muslim school in Indonesia, the middle name Hussein - is wielded to suggest that he is unfit for the presidency and used as fuel for baseless rumors.
Anti-Muslim sentiment fuels misinformation, and is fueled by it - misinformation that is squarely contradicted by evidence.
Starting in 2001, the research firm Gallup embarked on the largest, most comprehensive survey of its kind, spending more than six years polling a population that represented more than 90% of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims. The results showed plainly that much of the conventional wisdom about Muslims - views touted by U.S. policymakers and pundits and accepted by voters - is simply false.
For instance, Gallup found that 72% of Americans disagreed with this statement: "The majority of those living in Muslim countries thought men and women should have equal rights." In fact, majorities in even some of the most conservative Muslim societies directly refute this assessment: 73% of Saudis, 89% of Iranians and 94% of Indonesians say that men and women should have equal legal rights. Majorities of Muslim men and women in dozens of countries around the world also believe that a woman should have the right to work outside the home at any job for which she is qualified (88% in Indonesia, 72% in Egypt and even 78% in Saudi Arabia), and to vote without interference from family members (87% in Indonesia, 91% in Egypt, 98% in Lebanon).
What about Muslim sympathy for terrorism? Many charge that Islam encourages violence more than other faiths, but studies show that Muslims around the world are at least as likely as Americans to condemn attacks on civilians. Polls show that 6% of the American public thinks attacks in which civilians are targets are "completely justified." In Saudi Arabia, this figure is 4%. In Lebanon and Iran, it's 2%.
Moreover, it's politics, not piety, that drives the small minority - just 7% - of Muslims to anti-Americanism at the level of condoning the attacks of 9/11. Looking across majority-Muslim countries, Gallup found no statistical difference in self-reported religiosity between those who sympathized with the attackers and those who did not. When respondents in select countries were asked in an open-ended question to explain their views of 9/11, those who condemned it cited humanitarian as well as religious reasons. For example, 20% of Kuwaitis who called the attacks "completely unjustified" explained this position by saying that terrorism was against the teachings of Islam. A respondent in Indonesia went so far as to quote a direct verse from the Koran prohibiting killing innocents. On the other hand, not a single respondent who condoned the attacks used the Koran as justification. Instead, they relied on political rationalizations, calling the U.S. an imperialist power or accusing it of wanting to control the world.
If most Muslims truly reject terrorism, why does it continue to flourish in Muslim lands? What these results indicate is that terrorism is much like other violent crime. Violent crimes occur throughout U.S. cities, but that is no indication of Americans' general acceptance of murder or assault. Likewise, continued terrorist violence is not proof that Muslims tolerate it. Indeed, they are its primary victims.
Still, the typical American cannot be blamed for these misperceptions. Media-content analyses show that the majority of U.S. TV news coverage of Islam is sharply negative. Americans are bombarded every day with news stories about Muslims and majority-Muslim countries in which vocal extremists, not evidence, drive perceptions.
Rather than allow extremists on either side to dictate how we discuss Islam and the West, we need to listen carefully to the voices of ordinary people. Our victory in the war on terrorism depends on it.
John L. Esposito is an Islamic studies professor at Georgetown University. Dalia Mogahed is executive director of the Center for Muslim Studies at Gallup. They co-wrote "Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think."
Just because Muslim's say that Islam is the religion of peace, doesn't mean that it is.
To paraphrase you, if this is what Islam teaches, then you should not be an adherent to it!
"But there are more dangerous ones. They give it a name Islamo-fascism. http://www.terrorismawareness.org/petitions/63/islamo-fascism-petition/ "
I took a quick look at that link, and they're espousing the following 'dangerous' ideas:
"The right of all people to live in freedom and dignity
The freedom of the individual conscience: to change religions or have no religion at all
The equality of dignity of women and men
The right of all people to live free from violence, intimidation, and coercion "
Is this really your idea of dangerous thought? If so, you should probably consider moving to Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan. If you don't live there already, that is...
Here is one of the more whacked out ones. http://www.hauns.com/~DCQu4E5g/666.html
But there are more dangerous ones. They give it a name Islamo-fascism. http://www.terrorismawareness.org/petitions/63/islamo-fascism-petition/
It isn't like the church has stopped burning people at the stake; it's that they have better munitions now.
But back to the first question. Can you explain to me why tri-theists call Jesus the ONLY son of God when the original bibles, Torah, Vulgate, Preshitta and even King James have a chapter devoted to another begotten son of God? (Probably around 35 yoa when "begotten".) How many souls would you dam spreading a theology incompatible with itself?
I could teach you about original Christianity buy I suspect you could not bear it.
For those conservative Christians and Republicans, it's time to get yourself educated! I have nothing against Christianity but unfortunately, Christians can be dumb and arrogant! Study the facts and stay away from the media! It's always Muslim this, Muslim that! Well, Muslims are human beings too. If we are not perfect, than what about you, Christians? Bottomline, we have to meet in the middle and compromise. Learn how to live peaceful with each other and stop being so negative!
Even the figure is not final yet, mass graves are still turning up on the killing fields of Bosnia.
Read the comments by Charles and use your intelligence instead of your blind passion for a change!
So, brutality, treachery, ethnic cleansing - all these are part of Biblical Christianity? Go read history, and you will find that is exactly how you gained your victory around the world.
30,000 Jews and Muslims were killed by the Crusaders in Jerusalem; 4,000 Bosnians were killed by the Serbians under the nose of the multi-national peace keeping force in an UN enclave; Indian sub-continent was plundered and rights of the native people were brutally suppressed by the imperial British; Australian aboriginies were almost exterminated by the Australian settlers; Incas were made extinct by the brutal Spaniards; and slavery in America is well-known and so is the ethnic cleansing of the Jews by Christian Germany.
Do you want me to go on? And if this is what Biblical Christianity preaches, then you should not be an adherent to it!
Come to Islam; come to peace!
If any of you have read any of my previous comments and think I've been un sympathetic about how Islam and Muslims are being demonised in the media, there are a number of reasons, two of them being:
It isn't as prejudice as the media in the middle east.
I personally haven't seen a great deal of British media that I would say is victimising Islam, terrorists and Muslim countries but very rarely Islam itself and there isn't much intolerance to Muslims (at least not where I'm living).
However I've seen some incredibly Ati Muslim material coming from America, I don't know the name of the shows but in one there was an old Texan guy interviewing Egyptian author who had left Islam, in another two men criticise the prophet Muhammad and another had Wafa Sultan on it. Most have made good points about Muslim countries but then spoil it by concluding Islam should be blamed for everything. This didn't bother me too much at first but then obviously I thought about how it would impact on children who watch this (and I don't care how late these shows are on)!!!! Just a couple of days ago I saw one condemning Islam all because of what some barbary pirates did over 200 years ago. I really wouldn't have any objection to making this kind of stuff illegal in USA and believe me.
At first I thought well at least it is not as bad as media in middle east. After watching Several more of these programs I was thinking well at least it is not Quite as serious as that in the middle east and after watching that one two days ago I thought RIGHT!!!!! I don't care if it is not quite as bad, it is now very officially something I want to complain about for the next ten years!!!!!!!!
As I said I'm not trying to be Anti~American, I'm half American myself, but I did want to acknowledge this problem and say that even I'm against it!!
I think you're somewhat confused. What Christian says this about Muslims?
Also, you say "...call anyone that resists their violent acts it foreign countries as "terrorists"". Since when is New York a foreign country?
I have never read a comment so well thought-out! I am saving it for later reading! Great analysis! May God bless you!
This is indeed a great article! Most important attribute of this article is the statistical analysis! Thanks IView! Now let us hope that this will reach the ordinary people of the Western wrold!
We worry that these are the work of the many real terrorists in USA. They use mass media to spread hatred and with enough momentum somebody, somewhere on the globe will be blasted by USAF. Before their existence 30yrs ago, US citizens were received as friends by Muslims everywhere, British citizens were also welcome and safely work in remote rubber estates in Malaysia. Everybody knows British empire plundered their resources and killed their citizen but they are welcome. Only recently with the emergence of media empire, internet and movies, Muslims suddenly become terrorists and murderers. So the real terrorists are actually now hard at work with their most sophisticated space age communication and publication facilities in USA, to make clash of civilization a reality. Hundreds of millions of lives is their appetite ...
They claim they are making the world safe for democracy but have consistently overthrown every democracy in the Middle East whenever Muslims win an election all the while claiming apatite Israel is the "only democracy in the middle east".
They claim to follow the path of turning the other cheek but call anyone that resists their violent acts it foreign countries as "terrorists" that should be "rendered" to torture chambers and held without charge. This while one of the bill of rights reads "A militia being necessary for the defense of the states, the right to keep and bare arms shall not be abridged." I guess our fore founders were all "illegal combatants". I better not get cranked up.
Yet to ask "why do they hate us" or "why can't we win their hearts and minds" indicates a severe divorce from self evaluation. It isn't that US public diplomacy "sounds like" double talk, it's that it is. Reasonable people can see that while half asleep.
The world would probably be much safer if these folks were declared a danger to themselves and others and given massive doses of something. Although the last 7 years indicate they will damage themselves significantly if left to themselves. Unfortunately, they will damage all the rest of the life on earth as well.