October 13, 2019
It’s been 18 years, but 9/11 is still affecting the lives of Muslims in the West. This week’s has a spirited discussion about sharia law, political Islam and Western colonialism in the Middle East.
In this episode:
On his trip to Australia earlier this year, American Muslim commentator Dr Zuhdi Jasser says Salafists and Wahhabis have too much influence over what is taught in mosques in the West, but Dr Yassir Morsi disagrees, saying Australian Muslims are much more diverse than they’re given credit for. They are joined by Dr Chloe Patton from RMIT University’s School of Global and Social Studies where she researches Islamophobia.
The idea of ‘creeping sharia’ persists in Australian political discourse — particularly around election time. But implementing religious law in civil statutes happens in Australia more often than you might think, to little concern at all. So what does that look like?
Islamism is a term so broad it covers everything from the theocrats of the Saudi Royal Family, to their sworn enemy Al Qaeda, to completely non-violent, democratic Islamist parties of South-East Asia. Religiously-inspired political parties are common across the world, but nobody can agree if they are a threat to democracy or the purest expression of it.
Dr Zuhdi Jasser is founder and president of the American Islamic Forum of Democracy. He’s the author of A Battle for the Soul of Islam: An American Muslim Patriot’s Fight to Save his Faith, and he was in Australia on a speaking tour earlier this year.
Dr Yassir Morsi is lecturer in politics at La Trobe University and author of Radical Skin, Moderate Masks: De-Radicalising the Muslim and Racism in Post-racial Societies.
Dr Chloe Patton is an academic at RMIT University’s School of Global and Social Studies. She researches Islamophobia and was formerly research fellow at London’s Aga Khan University Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump stood by his decision to move U.S. troops out of harm’s way Wednesday as Turkish forces invaded northern Syria.
Trump then heaped scorn on his critics, who he said have not had to meet face to face with U.S. troops who have been wounded on the field of battle. Trump recalled giving out Purple Heart medals at Walter Reed National Medical Center last week.
“I get that we want to remove troops and that it’s not our war,” responded Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, a former Navy doctor and president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy. “However, even one soldier in that area was preventing Turkey” from trying to wipe out Syrian Kurds, allies who helped U.S. forces defeat ISIS.
Jasser, usually a Trump supporter, faulted Trump for giving Turkey a “green light” to invade Syria as “Islamist hegemony.”
During an interview with Judy Woodruff of “PBS News Hour,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denied that Trump gave Turkey a “green light.”
“On the phone call on Sunday night, it became very clear that there were American soldiers that were going to be at risk and the president made a decision to put them in a place where they were out of harm’s way,” Pompeo countered.
For his part, Trump, who announced Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit the United States on Nov. 13, warned that if the Turkish leader allows his troops to commit atrocities against the Kurds, “I will wipe out his economy.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a usual Trump supporter and constant golf companion, has tried to change Trump’s mind on the matter. “Most members of Congress believe it would be wrong to abandon the Kurds who have been strong allies against ISIS,” Graham tweeted this week.
Graham and fellow Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., quickly released a plan to impose “severe” economic sanctions on Erdogan himself, as well as other Turkish political leaders and entities that support Turkish energy interests.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi opposed the decision in a statement, “The president’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Northern Syria is a deeply disturbing development that betrays our Kurdish allies who have been instrumental partners in our mission to eradicate ISIS.”
When a reporter asked Trump if the U.S. will appear to be an untrustworthy ally in the future and if that will hamper future foreign policy initiatives, Trump responded, “Alliances are very easy.”
A moral wrong
Bradley Bowman of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies Center on Military and Political Power called Trump’s acquiescence to Erdogan “morally wrong.”
The United States provided air cover for the Syrian Democratic Forces while Syrian militia did the bulk of the fighting and dying on the ground against ISIS, Bowman said. Trump’s announcement “undercuts America’s reputation as a trustworthy ally.”
“This is something that people in the Middle East will remember for years, or even decades, to come. This is something that Americans will hear told back to them, 10, 20, 30 years from now,” Bowman warned.
As Syrian militia move to fight Turkey, they will be less able to prevent the escape of some 11,000 ISIS jihadis held in Syrian Democratic Forces detention facilities. “The most likely outcome is massive numbers of ISIS militants escaping and regrouping,” according to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Aykan Erdemir, a former Turkish lawmaker.
Kilic Burga Kanat, research director for the Turkish think tank SETA, defended Trump’s actions. “This is Trump’s position from the very beginning, to pull out troops from endless wars,” he told the Review-Journal.
“I’m not sure what they mean betrayal of the Kurds,” Kanat added, as the Turkish military will be focused on Kurdish militia that advocate for an autonomous Kurdish state.
Contact Debra J. Saunders at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-662-7391. Follow @DebraJSaunders on Twitter.
To all of our Muslim friends, members, and supporters,
Those of us at the American Islamic Forum for Democracy wish you a most Blessed Eid al-Adha (Holiday of the Sacrifice) on this 10th day of Zul-Hijjah, Sunday, August 11th, 2019.
May this holiday inspire each of us to increase our awareness of and gratitude for the many blessings we have been given as well as the enormous responsibility we have to serve and aid others. We are so proud of our many accomplishments and programs that our community at AIFD and the Muslim Reform Movement continue to do every day.
We will continue to keep you up to date on our latest as it happens here! We are so blessed to have all of your support and community.
Once again our nation finds itself horrified by the continued and increasing mass shootings here in the United States with over 21 to date. Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims and families of all those involved who, like us, are filled with questions that will never be answered.
May we, as brothers and sisters in humanity, use this Eid al-Adha to grow closer to each other and to our Creator, and seize this opportunity to recommit ourselves to the universal values of human rights, individual liberty, and love for all mankind.
At the core of being American is religious liberty to celebrate our most spiritually fulfilling of days. And we hope to continue to live up to our responsibilities to keep our nation free and open to unrestricted worship.
Enjoy your families, communities, and nation on this day and may all of your prayers and supplications be accepted. May the Hajj (pilgrimage) of all those who performed it this year also be accepted.
Yours forever in liberty,
The American Islamic Forum for Democracy
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