Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Henry J. Hyde, Chairman
CONTACT: Sam Stratman, (202) 226-7875, July 13, 2004
For IMMEDIATE Release
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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