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Why President Obama Needs to Listen to American Muslims

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My heart is torn, as are many people's, about what is going on in Syria, Iraq, Iran and the whole region. There is already so much suffering and I am being told that there could be so much more if we don't act to stop it. Many countries may feel they are not affected but they are already, and if a solution is not found all humanity will feel this suffering in a very direct way.

I am being told there are solutions, hard as it may be to see them at the moment, and that if a group of American Sunni and Shia Muslims can present a united front to President Obama and his advisors - and be listened to - it has the potential to help generate solutions in a way that no-one else can.

The world has to come up with new ways of solving problems - the old ways are proven not to work; we need to develop new ways, where world leaders work together for the good of humanity and leave aside issues of politics, money and power.

You may think that this is a completely unrealistic and naive concept, but I am being told that this is possible, and that it's the only way we will resolve things and bring lasting peace to our world. If we don't radically change the way we do things, future generations will hold each and every one of us accountable.

I am told that America is where the leadership of this new way of doing things will come. At the moment, President Obama and his advisors are frustrated, struggling to find solutions; they need to leave their old mindset behind and find new ways of doing things.

American Muslims are part of the answer - they have a unique perspective that can help to generate new ways of thinking.

I am told that if a small group of American Muslims drawn from both the Sunni and Shia strands of Islam, and from different ethnicities come together to discuss solutions they will come up with ideas that can lead to breakthroughs.

The ideas this group come up with may not be fully formed solutions but though the discussions with American foreign policy makers these ideas will be built upon and viable solutions will emerge.

Over the past nine months I have had discussions with a number of influential American Muslims. In this I was aided by Nobel Peace Prize winner Betty Williams, who joined me in meetings in February this year.

Many of the influential American Muslims I spoke to saw the benefit in coming together to develop ideas for solutions that leave historic baggage behind. They welcomed the idea that they could do something to help ameliorate a situation that deeply concerns them. They did though repeatedly ask "If we do come up with possible solutions who will listen?"

President Obama and his advisors, and other influencers of American foreign policy need to have the vision to sit down and listen to American Muslims.

Lorna Byrne and Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Betty Williams speak at the Sufi Mosque New York in February 2014 about the importance of American Muslim Unity.