Dr. Hassan Ibrahim is National Director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, an American Muslim public service & policy organization headquartered in Los Angeles. He serves on the Councils’s Foundation Board of Directors. The Council works to educate the American public through accurate and fair portrayals of Muslims in mass media and popular culture.

Public Diplomacy

In November 2003, Ibrahim participated in a panel discussion titled Distorted Images: Role of Global Media in Public Diplomacy. Led by Edward Djerejian and Harold Pachios, the group discussed the misperceptions prevalent in Middle East reporting and broadcasting. Ibrahim had this comment to add, highlighting distortion within the media:

"I would agree with you that there is fault on the Arab media as much as on the U.S. media in creating wrong images, distorted images, as the title for this Open Forum is. Sometimes even something that could be as good that is done with good intentions could even be interpreted as that. I'll give you a good example. When the Madrid conference in 1991 was held, obviously, in Madrid, that was presented or projected in the U.S. as the location was selected as a reinforcement of how Arabs and Jews lived in peace for centuries and created a great civilization in the Iberian Peninsula. That's great. That's a wonderful thing. Even if that was not the intention, it's great to propagate this kind of image. But the way that was portrayed in the Arab media--some of them--I wouldn't say all, but some of them that Madrid was selected as a reminder to the Arabs and Muslims. The same way you lost Andalusia to the conquistadors, you are going to be losing Palestine to the Zionists. So, as I mentioned earlier, the facts could be there and played differently. We need to have open dialogue on both sides, and no issue should be above discussion, and nobody should be disinvited before he or she are invited. It should be open. And this is democracy at its best -- really cannot do what we used to do in the past. Okay, just do more of it. We really need to do things differently. And we are a superpower. We can afford to be criticized. And as long as we have the opportunity to rebuttal, we come out of this discussion stronger, not weaker."

"Bin Laden like loses potential recruits when we are open to criticism. Accept it from time to time when it's due. We--last thing, because I know we're short on time. When we offend Canada, we have done really something outrageous, because they never really object to us. But when the Mayor of Toronto comes out of the blackout in August of this year, and furiously says, When was the last time you heard Americans apologize for anything, when we point the blame at them that it's their fault for the blackout? When Canada starts to speak out against us, obviously, we have gone wrong somewhere."

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