The fifth US-Islamic World Forum, organized by the Qatari Foreign Ministry in cooperation with the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, was held in the Qatari capital Doha in order t discuss issues and relations between both sides and the obstacles facing them.
The forum, attended by more than 260 figures from 32 countries didn"t include the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Group. Dr. Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh, a member of the moderate group"s Executive Office, was banned from travelling to attend it. Egyptian authorities prevented him although he received an invitation.
Inaugurating the forum, Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Sheik Hamed bin Jassim bin Jabr Al-Thani, said that there are positive aspects and there are also many negative aspects in the relation between Muslims and the United States.
He called for seeing the current facts on the ground between both sides in order to face the future, including settling the Palestinian cause and other regional conflicts which are a main source for tension and distrust.
He said also that the political development based on reform and democratization is useless unless they are associated by serious social and economic development programs.
For his part, Afghan president Hamed Karzai confirmed in his speech that" Both sides (the United States and the Muslim World) enjoy common interests topped by fighting terrorism". He called for invoking the Islamic heritage in fields of encouraging mutual understanding, educating peoples and to discuss debated issues.
Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright focused on the fact that the image of the United States is distorted in the Islamic world. She called for agreeing definitions to hold a constructive dialogue based on common- not sectarian- targets.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan offered several suggestions that included "the need for a clear resistance to hatred of Islam in the West, that Muslims reject those Muslims who distort the image of Islam, and endorsing a a peaceful trend for solving conflicts in the region".
The US delegate to the United Nations, Zalmay Khalilzad, saw that the current challenges don"t pose any obstacle between both sides. He also called for a real partnership between the West and the peoples of the Islamic world to end "extremism and terrorism" to reach more economic openness between both sides.
The conferees got acquainted, before the forum"s sessions are officially inaugurated, with polls and questionnaires around the view of every party towards the other.
These polls show that each side accuse the other of prejudice and that a majority of peoples in Islamic nations view the United States as a military threat, according to chairman of Sadat Chair for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland.
As for the US interventions in the region, a majority sees that every thing happening in the world is under control of Washington.
Stephen Cohen, the manager of US Foreign Policy Trends, said that America sees itself as a source of stability in the region, a view which is dismissed by most people in the Islamic world.
Polls saw also that there is a huge bias in the western world against Muslims. Dalia Mogahed, the executive director of Muslim studies for the Gallup Organization, sees that credibility and transparency should be invoked to change the West"s balance of bias against the Islamic world.
Khalil Shaqaqi, the manager of the Palestinian center for policies and researches, focused in his paper on the Palestinian cause and saw it as a flashpoint for the aggravated relations between both sides.
Shaqaqi pointed out that many Palestinians back "violence" against Israel and there are many others who support peace.
Mohammed bin Abdullah al-Romaihi, the Qatari Assistant Foreign Minister of the follow-up affairs, said in a press conference that the forum is attended by 200 international figures, stressing that the forum is intellectually-themed and no political initiative will be discussed directly.
What Islamic world needs, expects from next US administration
"What does the Islamic world need, expect from next US administration?" this was the title of a Sunday session in the forum.
Many participants submitted their views in this session seeking a constructive relation with the US side, a few months before a new administration assumes office in the United States.
Ziad Abu Amr, chairman of the Palestinian National Council for foreign relations, saw that the new US administration should avoid the double standard policy with which the United States is dealing with the Islamic world. The United States, he stated, issues threats against Iran to make it abandon its nuclear program while it does not do this with Israel.
Abu Amr called on the next US administration seek a final solution for the Palestinian cause instead of running the conflict. He also said that the intervention of the current US administration was very late, five months before Bush leaves the White House at the end of his second term.
The coming administration should reconsider previous attitudes and adopt a different method in dealing with the Palestinians especially as it is widely believed that it is backing Israel and but for the US support, Israeli occupation would have come to an end.
Abu Amr called on the US government to respect interests of the Islamic world, not only its own interests, and to initiate partnerships with Muslim States in a complete, not selective, method.
The leader of the Indonesian Mohammedia Association saw that the US governments is only dealing with regimes, not peoples, in the Islamic nations. He called for giving more focus to civil society organizations.
He cited his society, the Mohammedia Association, the second largest Islamic society in Indonesia in terms of supporters and that it has a population of about 35 million people spread all over the country and that it carries out several activities in the field education which are neglected like several organizations in the Islamic world. He saw that this led to feeding extremism in the region.
The Indonesian academic called on the US administration to use diplomatic solutions instead of military operations, and to differentiate between Islam as a religion and exercises of some movements in the Islamic world.
As for the chairman of Life Makers institution, the famous Islamic preacher Amr Khaled, he introduced himself as a mouthpiece of the Muslim youth and those who faced oppressions of the US policies in the Islamic world.
Amr Khaled saw the youth call, in a nutshell, for a fair solution for the Palestinian cause, a US withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, respecting Islamic values and not to mix between extremism and Islam.
Khaled said that the Muslim youth seek jobs and do not seek destruction, quoting a part of a message sent to him from a young man saying:" Don"t oblige me to become an extremist. I want a job".