Islam and America, Three Years After 9/11

Far from being incompatible, Islamic values and American values are very similar, says a Muslim leader.

Continued from page 1

Yes. But in the 20th century, the Muslim world created a vision of religious nationalism. Turkey, for example, had to be ethnically Turkish. Kurds, Armenians, other minorities didn't have a place in such a vision of a nation-state.

Towards the end of book, you outline a solution for the apparent conflict between the West and Islamic nations. What are the highlights?

The ultimate vision is to instate in the Muslim world the notion of multiculturalism, which is part of our heritage and history, part of the fundamental, mainstream ideals of Islam. We also have to improve the separation of powers [idea] that we have developed in the West. What's brilliant about the United States system of government is separation of power. Not only the executive, legislative, judicial branches, but also the independence of the military from civilians, an independent media and press, an independent central bank.

You also outline responsibilities for non-Muslim Americans, for Western media and businesses. What are they?

The business world can help in transmitting to the Muslim world the notions of capital formation. What leads to a successful economy is the financial infrastructure. Helping people create wealth.

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You're saying if we're more interconnected financially, that might help overcome tensions?

Yes.

About the media: Muslim leaders frequently condemn terrorism, but many non-Muslim Americans don't seem to be aware of that. Why is there the perception that no one is speaking out?

The media is not amplifying the message of these condemnations as much as they could. Another reason is that American foreign policy has contributed to a lot of the rage and anger in the Muslim world. It's important that America is seen as even-handed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

It's also important that America not be seen as a marketer of ethics which are not acceptable not only to Muslims, but to believers, whether they are Muslims, Christians or Jews. We don't like pornography, something which reduces family values, the violence we see from Hollywood. That's the picture people are seeing of America.

You talk about all Americans voting with our pocketbooks with regard to Hollywood. What can American Muslims, specifically, do to help defuse tensions?

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