By Rebecca Harrelson, Staff Writer
Published in print Sept. 24, 2014
Thursday September 18, Dr. Omar H. Ali introduced and led the conversation Dr. Ali Askerov discussed. The topic was “ISIS: A Long-Ignored or Emerging Problem,” in the Curry Auditorium, full of students and some faculty of all different ethnicities.
Ali, a co-founder of UNCG’s Islamic Studies Research Network (ISRN), which was created with his colleagues, professors Alyssa Gabbay (Religious Studies) and Asa Eger (History ) in order to discuss issues pertaining to Muslim history, culture and politics, spoke about the topic of ISIS in an email interview; “the conditions that have produced the horror of ISIS have been many years in the making. Perhaps our insistence on prescribing solutions from afar may have little to do with what is required. Nevertheless, we must act.”
Askerov, assistant professor in the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies, gave the speech.
One of the main points that seemed to resonate with all the attendants of this lecture was the fact that Askerov discussed the difference between Islam and ISIS and the fact that the public needs to be aware that they are not the same.
In the power-point presentation, Askerov presented the words “killing an innocent person is like killing the whole humanity.”
Askerov believes that the issues that are happening abroad are felt here and that Muslims can feel the tension in the stares.
Askerov broke down the ins and outs of ISIS amongst its history and the weapons supply. He also said that “an overwhelming majority” of lives lost have been Muslims.
Since the start of this ISIS issue years ago, many humanitarians are continuing to be captured; yet in America and in the media, it was mentioned that one may not always hear about those lives lost.
Following the lecture Askerov took a couple of questions by students.
One student thanked Dr. Askerov for speaking about this topic and shedding so much insight to the issue and asked his thoughts on the U.S plan and if ISIS will be eliminated soon.
Askerov jumped around with the explanation but in short came to the conclusion that putting “boots on the ground” and having “air strikes” may help in certain situations but, he thinks it will take a long time to eradicate a group like ISIS that has existed for years.
Askerov spoke about many words and their Arabic meaning, Jihad being one of them. Jihad meaning ‘the struggle,’ the ‘effort’ put in for a purpose.
Askerov said, “this is my Jihad today, to defend Islam to a large group of people.” The leader and organizer Dr. Omar Ali gave the quote “what ISIS is doing is the extreme and insane result of poverty and underdevelopment in the name of religion. It is an outrage. The way to counter this is to build a world in which there is no more poverty, a world in which we are all encouraged to grow and develop. That is powerful.”
Many students of the Muslim Student Association attended the lecture.
One of the young women spoke out at the end of the lecture thanking Askerov for making the difference between a Muslim and an extremist ISIS member clear.
She said, “ I just want to thank you for saying that those who identify as Muslim are not directly or in any way involved in what is happening with ISIS. One of my friends’ moms told her because of all the conflict happening not to walk alone, because we do wear the Hijab and many people just assume we are unsafe or are linked to what is happening abroad. So thank you for speaking for us.”