UNITED NATIONS – Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf (search) has accepted an invitation from a leading Jewish organization to speak about his campaign to promote moderate Islam among Muslims around the world, the Council for World Jewry (search) said.
Musharraf since 2003 has been urging Muslims to embrace a strategy of "enlightened moderation" as the best way to counter extremism and terrorism.
Council chairman Jack Rosen (search) said Musharraf's speech next month in New York will be the first time a Muslim leader with international stature publicly calls for moderation in the Muslim world not only at an event for Americans but at an event sponsored by the Jewish community.
"He's going to be speaking to a constituency that's been demonized by many extremists in the Muslim world," Rosen said in an interview Monday.
Rosen said he and two colleagues from the council, which is part of the American Jewish Congress (search), were invited to meet Muharraf in Islamabad in May. During their talk, they discussed Muslim extremism, terrorism and the need for reconciliation.
Out of that meeting came an invitation for Musharraf to speak to the American and Jewish communities about his call for enlightened moderation and the changes needed in the Muslim world and the West to achieve it, Rosen said.
Musharraf recently accepted, and the Council for World Jewry is organizing an event that will take place soon after a U.N. summit in New York that Secretary-General Kofi Annan (search) has invited world leaders to attend from Sept. 14-16.
In a 2004 speech to the Organization of Islamic Conference (search), which represents 57 predominantly Muslim countries, Musharraf said his strategy of "enlightened moderation" had two prongs.
One requires the Muslim world to shun militancy and extremism and promote socio-economic progress to achieve its "emancipation."
The other requires the West, especially the United States, to resolve "with justice" all political disputes in which Muslims are engaged and to assist in economic and social improvements in deprived Muslim countries, Musharraf said.
"This doctrine is a refreshing doctrine compared to what we've been hearing for the last 10 years from the Islamic world," said David Twersky, who accompanied Rosen to Islamabad.
"He doesn't blame everything on the West. He takes a lot of responsibility," Twersky said. "For example, he says most Muslims being killed in the world today are being killed by other Muslims."
Phil Baum, the third council member on the trip, said it has been very difficult to find moderate Muslim leaders to speak out publicly. He noted that President Bush had recently assigned one of his closest colleagues, Karen Hughes, to work on this issue in her new job at the State Department.
"What we would hope to do is spark other moderate community leaders in joining him in speaking out against extremism and terrorism, something that's been very difficult to find in the last few years," Baum said.
Twersky said what Musharraf is trying to do "is more than pushing the envelope."
"He is really trying to change the rules of the game," Twersky said. "Right now, those rules keep various parts of the world population from communicating with each other. He is trying to change those rules, and he is doing it in a very dramatic fashion by accepting the invitation to the September event."