The University of Delaware Center for Islamic Studies organized a conference on “The American Muslim Community and the US Government: the Need for Constructive Engagement”, on Tuesday, April 28th at the main campus of the University of Delaware.
The conference – which was moderated by Professor Muqtedar Khan, Director of the Islamic Studies Program – brought together several Muslim community leaders from organizations such as the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Muslim American Society (MAS Freedom ), and the American Muslims for Constructive Engagement (AMCE); beside representatives from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The presentations by US government representatives focused on the law enforcement function on one hand, and the effort to reach out to the Muslim community on the other. Muslim community leaders pointed out to violations of civil rights, mistreatment of Muslims, Islamophobia, and prejudice in the media. Many expressed optimism regarding some of the steps that the Obama administration has taken, but demanded more focused attention and concrete and swift actions by the US government, both at the State and federal levels.
Dr. Abubaker al Shingieti, President of the American Muslims for Constructive Engagement (AMCE) shared with the group the pioneering work of AMCE which was established specifically to address the need for constructive engagement between the American Muslim community and the US government. He cited some of the recommendations of the conferences and meetings organized by the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA), the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy (ICRD) and the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) during the past three years. Some of the examples presented include, the establishment of a USG Inter Agency Task Force which will meet regularly with Muslim community leaders and experts to discuss issues of common concern and how to work together to address them. Another recommendation presented is a deliberate policy of recruiting qualified Muslims to senior positions at the federal and state levels. A third is the enhancement of the bridge building function through the establishment of expert groups of Muslim professionals who would provide advice and direct assistance in USG efforts to support Muslim countries. Dr. Shingieti noted that some of the recommendations, such as the Directory of Muslim Experts, have already been implemented by AMCE and its partners.