Charles to target U.S. attitude toward Islam

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LONDON — Prince Charles will try to convince President Bush of the merits of Islam this week because he thinks the United States has been too intolerant of the religion since September 11, 2001.

The prince, who leaves tomorrow for an eight-day tour of the United States, has voiced private concerns over Washington’s “confrontational” approach to Muslim countries and its failure to appreciate what he regards as Islam’s strengths.

The prince raised his concerns when he met senior Muslims in London in November 2001. The gathering took place two months after the attacks on New York and Washington.

“I find the language and rhetoric coming from America too confrontational,” the prince said, according to one leader at the meeting.

It is understood that Prince Charles did not — and does not — believe that the actions of 19 hijackers should tarnish the reputation of hundreds of millions of law-abiding Muslims around the world.

“His criticism of America was a general one of the Americans not having the appreciation we have for Islam and its culture,” said Khalid Mahmood, a Labor Party member of Parliament who attended the meeting.

Mr. Mahmood and other Muslims stressed that Prince Charles did not criticize the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001. More recently, he has been careful not to express his views on Iraq.

The prince also spoke of his sympathy for the United States after the terrorist attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 persons. He said he wanted to promote better relations among the religions of the world.

Those present at the meeting in 2001 included Sir Iqbal Sacrani, the secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, and Hashir Faruqi, the chief editor of Impact International, a respected Islamic affairs magazine.

Prince Charles, who is about to embark on his first official foreign tour since his marriage to the Duchess of Cornwall, wants Americans — including Mr. Bush — to share his fondness for Islam. He has agreed to attend a seminar on religions at Georgetown University on Thursday, the only event where he will not be accompanied by the duchess.

“The seminar will look at how faith groups can alleviate social problems in their community,” a royal aide said.

The prince and duchess will attend a lunch and dinner with President Bush and his wife, Laura, at the White House on Wednesday.

Prince Charles has done more than any other member of the royal family in history to understand Islam. He said in 1994 that when he became supreme governor of the Church of England, he would rather be “defender of faiths” than “defender of the faith.”

A year earlier Prince Charles made a speech, acclaimed throughout the Arab world, on relations between Islam and the West. He urged the West to overcome its “unthinkable prejudices” about Islam and its customs and laws.

He spoke warmly of what he called the West’s debt to the culture of Islam and distanced moderate Muslims from militants. “Extremism is no more the monopoly of Islam than it is the monopoly of other religions, including Christianity,” he said.

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