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The Center for the Study of Islam Democracy

Remarks at the CSID’s Annual Banquet

Remarks at the CSID's Annual Banquet
I am grateful to the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy and its President, Dr. Radwan Masmoudi, for inviting me to speak at such a welcoming event. It is with particular pleasure that I address leaders and members of the Muslim-American community gathered here this evening. As Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, I oversee the Department’s Middle East Partnership Initiative – MEPI – as well as regional public diplomacy and press issues. It is within this context that I deal on a daily basis with democracy policy and programming in the Middle East and North Africa. As you know, President Obama has made clear his commitment to pursue a deep and positive dialogue with Muslims around the world based on mutual respect and in support of our mutual interests. That is one of the reasons he gave his first televised interview as President to Al Arabiya, an important pan-Arab media outlet. It is also why in a Nowruz message to the Iranian people and government he emphasized that he seeks a new dialogue on the full range of issues that we face.

Read MoreSecretary Clinton has spoken of a new diplomacy powered by partnership, pragmatism, and principle and the importance of using all of the tools at our disposal to achieve our national interests, but also to implement policies that will have a positive effect on the lives of people throughout the world. And as the Secretary told a group of civil society activists when she met with them in Indonesia, the challenges that we all face are too great to limit ourselves to interactions between governments. It is important for us to reach out and develop partnerships with all elements of civil society to help us meet and conquer these challenges.

The Secretary has made it clear that public diplomacy lies at the heart of America’s smart power. True public diplomacy is not simply lecturing other people. True public diplomacy is about engagement – it is actually having a real dialogue – and listening as much as talking.

DAS Spirnak at CSID 1

The President has laid out a foreign policy vision that rejects the false choice between our values and our security; the world needs to see that we can be true to our values and ideals while advancing our interests.

Throughout the region, our embassies and consulates emphasize outreach to local religious leaders and educators. We bring a significant number of religious educators to the U.S. on educational visits to observe religious diversity here and to see Muslim life in America first hand.

Muslims are an integral part of America. Muslim-Americans are not “outsiders” looking in; you are a part of the fabric of this country and have been for generations. We in the government welcome dialogue and have an open door to your communities, which play a constructive and important role in improving the public policy of our country.

Rest assured that the United States government remains committed to democratic principles and human rights and will continue to support those in the Middle East — and throughout the world – those who seek to enjoy these universal freedoms.

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