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Scholars offer insight on how to increase understanding between the US and Muslim-majority countries
Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) Fellows Azeem Ibrahim and Mehmet Celebi urged top policy makers to treat public diplomacy in Muslim-majority countries as a key priority during a briefing where they shared findings from their latest report “How to Improve the United States’ Image in the Muslim World.” The report outlines how to address recently identified trends such as the decentralization of organizations like Al Qaeda and the rise of self starter terror cells, coupled with global demographical changes that will result in a significant increase in Muslim populations in the developing world over the next few decades.
Ibrahim and Celebi, along with ISPU Executive Director Shireen Zaman, met with Senate Foreign Relations Committee staffers representing Chairman John Kerry and Ranking Member Richard Lugar as well as Foreign Policy Fellow for Chairman of Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs, Senator Robert Casey. The ISPU team also met with representatives from the Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy and the Office of the Special Envoy to Muslim Communities at the State Department as well as officials from the Department of Defense Office of Communications, Planning and Integration.
The highly interactive meetings included discussions on specific programs and tactics to improve understanding between the US and those living in Muslim-majority countries. The scholars emphasized the need for objective scientific information and diverse messengers rather than ideology and assumptions which seemed to have been the basis of previous policies. The authors also presented thirteen wide-ranging recommendations for policy makers including specific training programs for State Department officials in Muslim countries, utilizing local media to target particular demographical groups and importance of democratic Muslim countries such as Turkey to play a key role.
The full report is available at ISPU’s website, www.ispu.org.