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Reporters on the Job

Fundamental differences: In reporting today's story on America's declining image in the Muslim world (this page), Dan Murphy noted that the young MTV-watching set in Jordan and Cairo was united with bearded imams and tribal sheikhs in their distaste for US policies. But he was struck by the dramatic differences in the root causes of their anger.

"The critique of religious leaders dwells on what they imagine to be American 'Islamophobia' which drives a foreign policy designed to prevent strong Muslim countries from emerging," Dan says. But the hipsters, he says, lash out at America from an antiglobalization view shared by youths across Europe and elsewhere.

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One young man Dan spoke to in Jordan - his long hair, Che Guevara shirt, and faded jeans straight out of antiglobalization central casting - said he was angry about the US invasion of Iraq and policies toward Israel. But, he went on, "My principal complaint with the US government is capitalism. I feel like America is trying to construct a new colonial era and take economic control of weaker countries." Another young man who works out at Gold's Gym in Cairo says he loses sleep worrying that an Islamic regime could replace Egypt's autocracy, but that US policies push people in that direction. "Their unfair economic competition makes people desperate, so they turn to religious figures," he told Dan.

But even though people are angry at US policies, globalization is also drawing people together. "Many of those I've talked to - and this seems to be borne out by polling - say they'd like to work in the US, and said they're aware that in America, politics and economic competition are fairer than in their countries. Indeed, the forces that have driven globalization have made it possible for youths around the world to share their views. That process, while it may leave some frustrated at times, is drawing them into a dialogue that in the long run could bring cultures closer together."

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor


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