Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Henry J. Hyde, Chairman

CONTACT: Sam Stratman, (202) 226-7875, July 13, 2004

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Rep. Leach to Examine Islam & Politics in Asia
Hearing focus on Islamís diverse presence across continent

BACKGROUND: For most Americans, Islam is a faith of the Middle East, and, yet, the vast majority of Muslims live in Asia, which is home to the four largest Islamic countries in the world. While perhaps most Americans associate Islam with places such as Egypt, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, less than 20 percent of all Muslims live in the Arab-speaking world. The majority of Muslims in Asia generally have been less militant than their Middle Eastern variants. Asia's comparative economic successes, more open civil societies, less repressive governments and rich, ingrained mixtures of pre-Islamic traditions are likely explanations for the resistance to militancy. Whether Asian Islam will remain resistant to radicalism is unpredictable. Muslim protests among several regional countries during the U.S. bombing campaign in Afghanistan suggest at least some empathy with co-religionists. Increasingly, Islam in Asia is being sown with expressions of discontent, leaving many in the West to wonder what is the principal aspect to understanding the vast complexity of Islam in Asia, and Asian Islamís posture toward the rest of the world.

WHAT: Oversight hearing, Islam in Asia.
Asia and Pacific Subcommittee, James A. Leach (R-IA), Chairman

WHEN: 1:30 p.m., Wednesday, July 14, 2004

WHERE: 2172 Rayburn House Office Building

WITNESSES: Meredith Weiss, Ph.D., Assistant Professor and Director of the Graduate Program, Department of International Studies, DePaul University; Douglas E. Ramage, Ph.D., Representative, Indonesia and Malaysia, The Asia Foundation; His Excellency Husain Haqqani, Visiting Scholar, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; and The Honorable Thomas W. Simons, Jr., Consulting Professor, Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University.

Questions expected to be raised during the hearing:

What is at the root of Islamic politics in Asia? To what extent is the key driver for Muslim Uighurs in Western China (there are almost 20 million Muslims in China) or the Achenese in Indonesia, for example, the sense of grievance, of being disadvantaged? Are these grievances generally local and political, or are they international and theological?

To what extent is Islamic activism connected to separatism? To what extent is Islamic activism in places like Kashmir, Xinjiang, or the southern Philippines connected with both separatism and terrorism?

To what extent, if any, has the Asian governments' response to U.S. antiterrorism policies and Americaís intervention in Iraq been motivated by Islamic considerations?

What do the recent election results in Malaysia and Indonesia indicate about the compatibility of democracy and Islam?

How can our understanding of Islam in Asia better inform both U.S. foreign policy and our development assistance in the region?

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