Wed. Oct 27th, 2021

The Australian Association of Islamic Councils has canceled a planned Facebook Live event in which two Taliban were invited to answer questions, following fierce backlash from the Muslim Australian community.

AFIC CEO Keysar Trad told ABC Radio Brisbane that the event, scheduled for this weekend, was intended to be an opportunity for the Islamic community to “obtain assurances about the rights of minorities and women and also deter and deter all young people from go to that region “.

“Sometimes you have to ask the hard questions,” Mr Trad said.

“Sometimes you need to put people on the spot and get answers to these questions, but I think the setback was beyond that expectation.

“We certainly understand the public mood and do not want to create any anxiety for anyone.”

A flyer for the event described a “stellar panel of speakers … on the future of Afghanistan and our role, whether we are for or against recent developments”.

Senior Taliban spokesmen Suhail Shaheen and Sayed Abdul Basir Sabiri were listed on the flyer as part of the panel.

A flyer to the AFIC event where two Taliban were invited to answer questions.
A flyer to the AFIC event where two Taliban were invited to answer questions.(Delivered: Facebook)

“When you make a flyer and you want people to join the program and participate in it, then of course you have to use words that arouse interest,” Mr. Trad said when asked about the use of the word ” the star “.

Trad said the two Taliban spokesmen were not part of the panel discussion but had been invited to answer a list of prepared questions about the regime’s human rights plans in Afghanistan.

He said the AFIC had no direct contact with the Taliban.

“We asked members of the community to reach out to see if there is anyone who can answer questions on behalf of the regime in Afghanistan,” he said.

‘Shameful’ decision

Lawyer and founder of the Islamophobia Register Australia Mariam Veiszadeh issued a statement saying it was “deeply shameful” that the AFIC considered it appropriate to invite the Taliban to speak.

The Afghanistan-Australian Advocacy Network also released statements from prominent Muslim Australian community leaders and organizations condemning the event.

“As members of the Afghan-Australian community, we are appalled and appalled that this blatant promotional event for the Taliban is being carried out in our name,” a statement from AAAN said.

Professor Shahram Akbarzadeh, deputy director of the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalization, said the event “risks undermining very good work from Australian Muslims to overcome prejudice”.

“AFIC provides a platform for a group that has violated human rights, women’s rights and targeted religious and ethnic minorities. Australian Muslims have nothing to do with the Taliban,” said Professor Akbarzadeh.

A Middle Eastern gentleman speaks with his hand outstretched, palm facing up.
Senior Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen was invited to answer questions.(Reuters: Tatyana Makeyeva)

Trad said the decision to reach the Taliban was driven by society’s concern for young people dissatisfied with life in Australia who were thinking of traveling to Afghanistan.

He said it was also designed to obtain assurances from the regime on women’s rights to work and seek education and on the rights of minorities.

He claimed that some MPs had expressed interest in joining the panel before the public backlash began.

“The flyer and the event were very clear that we are not holding a forum to support the Taliban,” he said.

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