Walid Phares, a Lebanese Christian who serves as national security adviser to Donald Trump, has been in contact with prominent Muslims within the Republican Party as well as conservative Middle Eastern activists in the United States. According to The Hill, Phares said that the Trump campaign had not directed him to initiate contact. Phares described the conversation as the fruit of decades of relationships he has built during his years of involvement in Middle Easter policy. He said that he has asked individuals and groups to support the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.
Phares has been controversial among leftists and some Muslims because of his alleged ties to anti-Muslim forces in Lebanon. He was an advisor on Middle Eastern affairs to Mitt Romney in 2012.
However, most of the discussions were initiated by curious Muslims or conservatives of Middle Eastern origin who were seeking information about Trump’s policies and views, while some are seeking to influence Trump’s announced intention to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States. "Most of those who reached out said they want to support Mr. Trump, but they're not clear about some of the statements he's made," Phares said. According to Phares, an expert on Middle Eastern affairs, they are convinced that Trump is right about economics and social issues, "But they're trying to get a handle on how he'll deal with the Middle East."
Trump has been subjected to harsh criticism on the part of leftists and some Muslim groups, besides some voices within the Republican Party. Since the end of 2015, Trump has softened some of his rhetoric about Muslims, even while suggesting that he would appoint a commission headed by former New York City mayor Rudolf Giuliani to address the "problem" of "radical Islam." Phares said that Trump’s remarks reflect the New Yorker’s seriousness of the threat posed by terrorism, rather than a distinct policy. Trump, he said, will further refine his positions once he receives briefings from sources within government and policy circles.
Phares said, "Right now the ban is just a few sentences in a foreign policy announcement and a tweet, it's not like he's written books or published articles or delivered lectures on this.” He added, "He'll continue to add context and distinction to his position as he gets new information."
Among Muslims who have jumped onto Trump’s bandwagon are Shireen Qudosi. A self-described “reform Muslim,” Qudosi changed her mind about Trump after Sen. Ted Cruz dropped out of the race. In a blog, she wrote, "His mannerism and language doesn't always paint a pretty picture - but neither does the idea of a nuclear Iran, Yazidi sex slaves, more terrorist attacks, the Muslim Brotherhood, gross human rights violations, drone wars, etc." Another activist is the founder of the Republican Muslim Coalition, Saba Ahmed, who debated a Trump campaign spokesperson Fox News while wearing a hijab bearing the Stars-and-Stripes. His Muslim ban, Ahmed told The Hill, has no chance of implementation and thus can be ignored. She plans on seeking a meeting with Trump at the GOP Convention in July, along with other Muslim leaders.
Another group of supporters is the American-Mideast Coalition for Trump, which was formed after Trump triumphed in the Florida primary. Described as coalition of Christians and Muslims, the group wants to see more engagement on the part of the Trump organization with Muslim Republicans. Among the groups that could be targeted by the Trump campaign is the American Islamic Forum for Democracy.
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