The Muslim world has been inexorably intertwined with American society & politics since 9/11, and while stories of intolerance (aimed at all sides by all sides) had seemed to fade away as the country attempted to move past those momentous terror attacks, this past year has brought the theme of a Western-Muslim clash of cultures back into the headlines. Starting with the controversial plan to build a mosque in Manhattan close to Ground Zero and most recently NPR’s firing of Juan Williams for his comments about being fearful of flying on an airliner with Muslims, the general distrust of Islam as a religion and a culture seems to be back with a vengeance in the U.S. How does the Muslim world view American Muslims, and how the U.S. government regards Muslim communities both locally and globally? How do Muslims view an America that offers millions of dollars of assistance to earthquake-stricken Pakistan while also continuously launching missile attacks against Pakistani extremists? With the help of a State Department special envoy, we look at America through Islamic eyes.
Farah Pandith, U.S. State Department Special Representative to Muslim Communities; former director of Middle East Regional Initiatives for the National Security Council