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Facing Islam

"Facing Islam" Continued...

Issue: "2008 Daniel of the Year," Dec. 13, 2008

Sorting out the paperwork is proving difficult for federal prosecutors, who have now delayed proceedings twice. Don Ledford, spokesman for the U.S. district court in Kansas City, where the case will be heard, said it is not scheduled for trial until November 2009. -Mindy Belz

Diplomacy-and religious liberty?

By Marvin Olasky

Another recent attempt to improve the relations of Americans with the Muslim world came by way of a new document, "Changing Course: A New Direction for U.S. Relations With the Muslim World," signed by 33 American leaders who met at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund conference center with financial support from that foundation and others.

Eleven of the 33 were Muslim-Americans, with most of them employed by Muslim interest groups. Non-Muslim leaders included former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage, former U.S. representatives Steve Bartlett and Vin Weber, author Stephen Covey, psychiatry guru Robert Jay Lifton, American Petroleum Institute president Red Cavaney, and assorted professors. The one participant employed by an evangelical group was Richard Land, president of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The report emphasizes diplomacy as "the primary tool" for bringing peace. It also supports "efforts to improve governance and promote civic participation in Muslim countries," and to "build the capacity of government institutions to deliver, and of citizens to participate in governance." It calls for adoption by April 20 of "a major and sustained [U.S.] diplomatic effort to resolve regional conflicts and promote security cooperation in the Middle East, giving top priority to engagement with Iran and permanent resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

The report also gives useful country-by-country goals. For example, 'the primary institutional goal the U.S. should pursue in Egypt is the opening of opportunities for political participation and good governance at the local and national level. Those opportunities can come not only through elections, but also through increasing the transparency, accountability and effectiveness of police, municipal services, and the judiciary. The U.S. should also help NGOs and the press organize to hold local and national government agencies more accountable.

Furthermore, the report calls for the rapid convening of "a business-government summit on economic reform, growth and job creation in the Middle East to accelerate current reform and investment," and "a global initiative for teaching, learning and exchange among citizens in the U.S. and Muslim countries." That sounds good, but the report skips questions of religious liberty-and without that fundamental freedom, "democracy" will merely mask tyranny.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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