MPAC Meets with Secretary of State Colin Powell -- Here's Why

 
 

Secretary of State Colin Powell spoke to over a dozen representatives of Muslim and Arab American organizations on Thursday, January 17 at the State Department. The meeting was a continuation of the dialogue between the State Department and community-based organizations. Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, William Burns, and the State Department's spokesperson, Richard Boucher, also addressed the group.

This isn't the only activity MPAC is involved in on Capitol Hill or with the administration as a whole. This meeting with Secretary Powell was just one of many executive level meetings with the Department of Justice, Customs, the FBI, Department of Treasury, Department of Defense and the Office of Homeland Security.

Why the meeting? Was it worth attending? These are the questions we ask ourselves and hear from others when such interaction takes place.

The meeting did not conclude in a change of policy and will not directly lead to any change in the immediate future.

Change in US policy requires more from our community than attending meetings. It requires organized, sustained efforts in coalition with like minded groups both at the grassroots and national levels. It requires a strong voice in the media, both print and broadcast. It requires thoughtful analysis and not superficial press releases or photo opportunities.

The dialogue with the State Department, and other federal agencies, for that matter, is important because this dialogue constitutes an incremental means of overcoming exclusion within the decision-making process in America. Failures in current US policies in the Muslim world are directly proportional to the exclusion in Washington of legitimate American Muslim voices representing the mainstream.

We hear many complaints about exclusion. It would be foolish, therefore, to exclude ourselves by declining invitations from the Secretary of State or the President or any US official and complain about exclusion simultaneously. Moreover, we are not only speaking to office-holders, but we are speaking to the offices created by our constitution.

We are also paving the road for our future generations to have a chance in defining themselves in the national public arena and in influencing the agenda-setting within the US decision-making apparatus. That approach is the most effective means of overcoming the bigotry and hatred towards Islam and Muslims today.

The US government yearns for more support of the current policies from our community. We can support minor achievements, such as the dismantlement of 21 illegal Israeli settlements from Gaza and the transition from dictatorship to self-governance in Iraq. We can also criticize setbacks.

But our support or opposition is not the barometer of success or failure of the policies. We merely reflect the sentiment of Muslims worldwide, and decisions affecting their lives should be made in their cities, not in Washington.

Our country, the United States of America, is in the midst of a dangerous era: the sentiment in the Middle East is shifting dangerously to opposition not just to U.S. policies but to American values themselves. This trend does not bode well for our national image or interests. Do we promote human rights and democracy in a genuine manner or are we giving imperialism a free ride? That question alone needs our commitment and service now more than ever. Our absence would be a severe mistake, and the involvement of every American Muslim in these crucial questions is a patriotic and religious duty.

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How Does MPAC Help Muslims & Islam in America?
As a matter of policy, MPAC DOES NOT accept any funding from foreign governments. The political and financial independence of MPAC will sustain the future of Islam in America. MPAC relies on your financial support to sustain its activities and represent the sentiments and interests of American Muslims not foreign governments.

 

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