Same Mission, New Look for Islamic Group

By Judy Sarasohn
Thursday, September 14, 2006

With too many Americans viewing their Muslim fellow citizens with suspicion because of the 9/11 attacks and other terrorist acts, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a civil rights and advocacy group, decided to launch "a new brand identity and logo."

In a letter to the American Muslim community, CAIR board Chairman Parvez Ahmed said the group after 12 years of service is "reaffirming our core values and recommitting ourselves to three central aspects of CAIR's mission -- enhancing understanding of Islam, protecting civil liberties and empowering American Muslims." Those values include promoting pluralism for a better America, justice and dialogue.

The new logo, Ahmed wrote, "affirms that we are one human family, created by God into different nations and tribes so that we may come to know each other and not despise each other."

Ahmed said in an interview that the timing of the new branding effort was "not particularly interesting." But he said that "a handful of extremists are distorting the image of Islam."

"We needed to think of new ways of becoming more effective, a much better way of communicating how [we are] part of the American mainstream," Ahmed said. "It is important that they [other Americans] have a clear understanding of us."

Coalition to Market America

Also in the Getting-to-Know-You-Better category: A coalition of high-powered business executives has formed the Discover America Partnership, a multimillion-dollar advocacy campaign designed to boost the number of visitors -- by 10 million a year -- to the United States.

Their aim is to help improve America's image abroad and bolster national security by introducing more people from other countries to us. "In the effort to win hearts and minds, we have a unique card to play," Jay Rasulo , chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, said in a statement. "That card is an invitation . . . to visit America, meet our people and experience our values."

Geoff Freeman , executive director of Discover America, said the campaign intends to educate lawmakers and other policymakers about the need to attract foreign visitors, and it will work to smooth out visa and airport policies that may discourage travel. But he said the group "by no means" wants to lessen security standards. "It makes good business sense. It makes good policy sense. There's no shame in it," Freeman said.

Among the coalition's leaders: Rasulo; Steven C. Anderson of the National Restaurant Association; August A. Busch III of Anheuser-Busch Companies Inc.; Roger Dow of the Travel Industry Association of America; Michael D. Gehrisch of Destination Marketing Association International; J.W. Marriott of Marriott International Inc.; Joseph A. McInerney of the American Hotel & Lodging Association; Bud Nocera of Visit Florida; Howard C. Nusbaum of American Resort Development Association; Stevan D. Porter of the InterContinental Hotel Group; Andrew C. Taylor of Enterprise Rent-a-Car; and Jonathan M. Tisch of Loews Hotels Inc.

Also working on the campaign: Fleishman-Hillard , a PR company; Charles L. Merin of BKSH & Associates , who specializes in travel and tourism clients; and C. Stewart Verdery Jr. of Monument Policy Group LLC , who represents the Travel Industry Association and served as assistant secretary of homeland security.

And Meridian Hill Makes Three

The Tiber Creek lobby shops have added a third: a new company named Meridian Hill Strategies Inc. , formed by Alix Burns , former vice president of TechNet. Burns was finance director for major states for Vice President Al Gore's presidential bid in 2000.

Tiber Creek was started in 2003 as a partnership of Johnson, Madigan, Peck, Boland & Stewart Inc. and Ickes & Enright Group.

Jeffrey Peck said Burns was instrumental in developing ties between high-tech firms and House Democrats. Johnson Madigan, a bipartisan shop, has strong ties to the Senate; Harold Ickes and Janice Enright were Clinton White House aides.

"As we look to the November elections, she'll be essential," Peck said, referring to an expected increased presence of Democrats in the House, if not a Democratic takeover.

Here and There

Moving about town . . . Christopher Staszak , a former assistant counsel to New York Gov. George E. Pataki (R), has joined the D.C. office of Bracewell & Giuliani .

Mary-Lacey Reuther , special assistant to Mark McClellan, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, has joined the GOP lobby shop of Barbour Griffith & Rogers as a vice president.

Former diplomat Terry Snell has joined King & Spalding as a senior international government relations adviser. Most recently, he was political adviser to the U.S. European Command, and earlier he was deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin. Also at the law firm: former senator Daniel R. Coats (R-Ind.), who was ambassador to Germany.

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