US should open up to Arabs, Muslims: Powell
The former secretary of state says that welcoming Arabs and Muslims to US is a greater weapon to fight terrorism.india Updated: Nov 30, 2006 01:50 IST
Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell said on Wednesday that President George W Bush could fight terrorism better by reaching out to Arabs and Muslims.
"We are conveying a bad message, that America does not welcome you, particularly Arabs and Muslims," Powell told a business forum in the United Arab Emirates.
"The greatest weapon against terrorism for America is to open up for the rest of the world."
Arabs and Muslims have criticised US policies as biased towards Israel.
Tensions escalated after US-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and a backlash against Muslims and Arabs in the United States after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
The 19 Al-Qaeda hijackers who attacked US cities in 2001 were Arab Muslims, mainly from Saudi Arabia.
"I hope President Bush and Secretary (of State Condoleezza) Rice would double the effort to bring stability to this part of the world (Middle East)," he added.
Powell said the number of Arabs and Muslims who visit the US has dropped since the attacks and reflected negatively on educational institutions and leisure destinations.
Arabs and Muslims complain of heavy security searches in US airports and denial of access to the country. Many Arab students, mainly from Gulf Arab states, left the United States after the attacks due to fear of discrimination.
"This is bad, not good for America," said Powell.
"When students come to America for a couple of years they will understand Americans more. This is a great weapon against terrorism... not the use of the military."