TEL AVIV – The emergent Trump administration is “the first time that we see Washington officials who realize the facts on the ground and frankly declare that they will not accept blackmail or keep silent over extremist and terrorist regimes,” Abdulrahman al-Rashed, an acclaimed journalist and former editor-in-chief of London-based leading Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat, said.
In an oped titled “Which Muslims Are Against Trump?” published Tuesday in Al Arabiya, Rashed said that Muslims should not be afraid of President-elect Donald Trump’s “intentions” for the Muslim and Arab world. On the contrary, writes Rashed, the ones who are leading the fear-mongering campaign by “claiming Washington was willing to launch war on one billion Muslims” are radical Muslim groups and tyrannical regimes – including, chiefly, Iran – because Trump and his newly appointed officials have sworn to topple them.
“We understand that Hillary Clinton’s defeat in the elections angered the Muslim Brotherhood. What fueled the latter’s anger was how Trump received Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in New York earlier this year,” Rashed said in reference to Trump’s September meeting with the Egyptian leader, which prompted the latter to declare he had “no doubt” the president-elect would make a strong leader.
“It’s on this basis that they try to picture Trump’s administration as racist and as an enemy of Islam and Muslims,” he continued.
“Iran, Al-Qaeda, and Islamic groups like the Muslim Brotherhood” are the chief objectors to Trump’s choice of appointments, Rashed writes.
Rashed, who also served as the executive director of Al Arabiya News Channel, cited Trump’s pick for secretary of defense, General James Mattis, as one example. While Mattis has “clearly and frankly voiced hostility,” it was only “against terrorist organizations.”
“[Mattis] also has frank stances against what Iran is doing in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon,” Rashed continues.
He also cites General Michael Flynn, Trump’s pick for national security adviser, as another example.
Flynn “has also made outspoken speeches against extremist Islamic groups. Many have used these speeches to indicate that he is hostile against Islam and Muslims,” he notes.
“Truth be told, what General Flynn said is what we ourselves say, that there is a dangerous virus inside Islamic society called extremism that has killed Muslims and threatened them everywhere and harmed them more than it even harmed the West and followers of other religions.”
“Hideous crimes were committed by extremist groups – the same ones that Flynn and Mattis call for confronting,” he adds.
Rashed writes that Mike Pompeo, whom Trump chose to manage “the most important foreign security institution, the CIA,” holds the same view as the others when it comes to “confronting terrorism” and is “aware of Iran’s sabotaging role in the region and the world.”
If we realize that those who are angered by these three appointments are Iran, Al-Qaeda, and Islamic groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, we can understand that the problem is not in Trump’s choices, but in these men’s project to confront terrorism which the former parties sponsor or at least benefit from.
The majority of Islamic countries agree with these state secretaries’ proposals and vision of the crisis that threatens the entire world. We, as Muslims, have for a decade and half now been engaged in a war against extremism and extremists, as an ideology and groups, and want the world to differentiate between Muslims and not put them all in one category and to stand with the majority of peaceful Muslims against this evil minority. It’s in our interest to deter regimes like Iran that support terrorist groups, be it Sunni or Shi’ite, and allies with them and engages in regional wars under dishonest slogans such as defending Islam or standing against the West.