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The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils cancels online panel with Taliban spokesmen

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

AFIC chief executive Keysar Trad told ABC Radio Brisbane that the event, scheduled for this weekend, was intended to be an opportunity for the Islamic community to “get guarantees for the rights of minorities and women, and also to discourage and discourage any young man to go to that region. “

“Sometimes you have to ask tough questions,” Trad said.

“Sometimes you have to put people in place and get the answers to those questions, but I believe the tough response was beyond that expectation.

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

A leaflet about the event described a stellar panel of speakers on the future of Afghanistan and our role regardless of whether we are for or against the latest developments.

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

A trial for the AFIC event in which two Taliban were invited to answer questions.
A trial for the AFIC event in which two Taliban were invited to answer questions.(Supplied: Facebook)

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

Trad said the two Taliban spokesmen were not part of the panel discussion, but were invited to answer a list of questions prepared regarding the regimes of human rights plans in Afghanistan.

He said AFIC had no direct contact with the Taliban.

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

‘Shameful’ decision

Islamophobia Australia Registry lawyer and founder Mariam Veiszadeh issued a statement saying it was “deeply embarrassing” AFIC thought it appropriate to invite the Taliban to speak out.

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

“As members of the Afghan-Australian community, we are horrified and appalled that this openly promotional event for the Taliban is being conducted on our behalf,” a statement from AAAN said.

Professor Shahram Akbarzadeh, a deputy director at the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalization, said the event “risks undermining many good works by Australian Muslims to overcome prejudice”.

“AFIC is giving a platform to 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 gentleman from the Middle East speaks with his hand outstretched, palm up.
Senior Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen was invited to answer questions.(Reuters: Tatyana Makeyeva)

Trad said the decision to reach out to the Taliban was prompted by community concern about young people unhappy with life in Australia thinking of traveling to Afghanistan.

He said it was also designed to receive guarantees from the regime regarding women’s rights to work and seek education, and minority rights.

He claimed that some MPs had expressed interest in participating in the panel, before the public reaction began.

The leaflet and the event was very clear, that we are not holding a forum to support the Taliban, he said.

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2/ https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-10-14/afic-cancels-online-event-with-taliban-spokesman/100538330

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