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Editorial: U.S. image must be improved

According to a poll published in USA Today, a majority of Muslims in nine Islamic countries have unfavorable opinions of the United States. Something must be done by the U.S. government to improve American-Islamic relations. A good start would be the establishment of a ministry trained to work with Muslim leaders and work to cultivate a more positive image of the United States through up-front and honest tactics.

The Gallup poll surveyed more than 9,900 Muslims in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Indonesia, Turkey, Lebanon, Kuwait, Jordan and Morocco. Questions asked of those surveyed included their opinions on President George W. Bush and the American-led bombing of Afghanistan. The overwhelming majority were negative opinions. In fact, the overall view of the United States was that it is “ruthless, aggressive, conceited, arrogant, easily provoked (and) biased.”

With such a negative image, Bush acknowledged the need to make improvements, saying, “There is no question that we must do a better job of telling the compassionate side of the American story.” In fact, the United States needs to do more than that and show Islamic countries that we are not a threat to their way of life and that we have a genuine interest in their well-being.

To do this, Bush should consider creating a board of government workers to address America’s image in Arab countries. The people on this board should be well versed in Arabic, the religion of Islam and Islamic laws and codes. Thus, by showing our nation is interested and willing to learn about Islamic customs, more Muslims in those countries might trust the United States more.

With significant effort, the United States could drastically improve its image in not only Muslim countries but the world itself. By doing this, terrorism itself might be curbed if Americans and Arabs in general understand each other better.