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Progressive Revival

Katherine Marshal is the former director of the religion and development program at the World Bank.  She has been tracking international responses to the election of Barack Obama and wrote about reactions from the Muslim world to the inauguration which ends with these thoughts.

As for winning hearts, that’s equally important and it starts with the term that Barack Obama used in addressing the Muslim world: respect: “To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.” Respect starts with listening, but it needs to move on to real understanding and appreciation of how the world looks from another place.

The contrasting images of joyous Americans embarking on a new age and Moroccans enraged by images of dead babies in Gaza underscore what we know full well: the road ahead is chock full of challenges. But Obama’s pithy promise to the Muslim world shows the way we need to go.

One of the keys to moving forward is accurately reading the perceptions of other countries and peoples around the world to actions we believe are globally just.  The war on terror is a good example of a stratgy that was understandable from America’s perception post 9/11, but in its execution and rhetoric was ultimately percieved by many Muslims as a war on Muslims.  As Secretary Clinton has said – we need smart diplomacy, and nowhere is this more pressing than with the Muslim world.

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