Former Clinton adviser speaks in Kiva about American misconception of Muslim world

Jackie Mantey

Muslims hating Americans is a common misconception, said Hady Amr, founder and chairman of the Amr Group and former adviser for the Clinton administration.

“There has never been this low of a level of mistrust and frustration from the Middle East, but they don’t hate all aspects of the United States,” Amr said, referring to low American approval ratings in those countries.

Amr spoke with students and faculty in the Kiva last night about how the United States can work with the Muslim world in clearing up these miscommunications brought on by the Iraq War.

The trilingual author works to conceptualize and launch innovative institutions with a focus on the Arab world and U.S.-Arab relations. He was brought to the university to participate in International Education Week, a program that looked into exploring international opportunities for students, said Ken Cushner, executive director of International Affairs.

Amr started his speech by asking how many audience members spoke an Arabic language.

Two people raised their hands, and there was the problem.

“After Sept. 11, the government started asking, ‘Why don’t we communicate well with the Muslim world?’ It’s because only five out of the thousands of people who work for the lead departments were able to communicate with the 22 Arabic countries,” Amr said.

Along with the inability of the government heads to communicate with those countries, Amr listed several reasons why the unfavorable rating by Arabic countries of the United States had reached an all time high of 80 percent.

“The U.S. used to come into these countries and support national independence. We are responsible for investing in and creating some of the most prestigious educational institutions of that region,” he said. “We don’t do things like that anymore.”

Instead of creating partnerships with the nations, the U.S. is now coming in with the idea of being an authority. This attitude can only hurt American relations, Amr said.

“If you go in there and say, ‘Let me tell you how it’s done,’ of course people are going to be upset. They will think, ‘Who’s this guy?'”

Through different polling done by the 9/11 Commission, which Amr works for, they discovered a level of misunderstanding is not only happening in countries across the world, but in the U.S. as well.

He said many Americans believe Muslims hate all aspects of American culture and living, but this is entirely false.

“While there are radicals who believe this, the United States got very high approval ratings in our ability for the education, democracy and technology systems,” Amr said.

By working on these common agreements, Amr noted that relations between America and Arab countries could improve dramatically.

“The Muslim world and America need to start working together,” Amr said.

Contact College of Architecture and Environmental Design and School of Art reporter Jackie Mantey at [email protected].