Hamza Yusuf (Mark Hanson) becomes Advisor to the Trump Administration as part of the Commission on Unalienable Rights, and the Criticisms of its Members

by Abdul Hussain (H/T Khalil Charles)

Hamza Yusuf, a well-known Islamic scholar who has cofounded Zaytuna College, has become an advisor to the Trump administration as part of the newly-announced Commission on Unalienable Rights, alongside Rabbi Meir Yaakov Soloveichik; Stanford professor Russell Berman; Notre Dame Law professor Paolo Carozza; Harvard sociologist Jacqueline Rivers; Katrina Lantos Swett, former chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom; philosopher Christopher Tollefsen; and UC Irvine professor David Tse-Chien Pan, with the commission being led by a former Harvard law professor with a history of taking the anti-abortion stance, Mary Ann Glendon

To exacerbate matters, not only was the newly founded Commission’s leader was criticised, Hamza Yusuf himself was criticised for even joining the Commission, with Dr. Usaama al Azami, a lecturer in Islamic Studies at the Markfield Institute of Higher Education telling Middle East Eye that it is “troubling development in Western Islam”, and “for one of the West’s most recognisable and once almost universally esteemed Islamic scholars to throw in his lot with the most venal and Islamophobic administration in American history will be viewed by many Muslims as an unforgivable lapse in judgement which will not easily be forgotten”, in which he concluded his views with the statement that “this is far worse than his advice to the Bush administration in the wake of the tragic events of 9/11. That was when most Muslims voted Republican”, in which Hamza Yusuf did in fact play an advisory role to the George Walker Bush administration, though additional reports state that he was apparently critical of the Bush administration’s political moves.

However, the criticisms targeted towards Hamza Yusuf do not end there, as in December 2018, he was also criticised for claiming that the United Arab Emirates were “committed to tolerance” in the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, which takes place in Abu Dhabi with financial support from the UAE, basically branding it as a “PR initiative”, perhaps (key word being “perhaps”) with the insinuation that there is a lack of impartiality, and speaking of “Islamophobia”, the Donald Trump-administration Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, has no problems in exhibiting his love for Israel, while handicapping Iran, so there is that too.

Having covered the most notable criticisms of this newly-founded Commission, this is off to a flying start, if by “flying”, one means riding on a firing Lockheed Martin rocket, but hey, while there are legitimate concerns over this Commission which should not be ignored by any stretch of the imagination, the folks who are involved in the Commission on Unalienable Rights are more than welcome to prove its doubters wrong, and in a time whereby the United States’ reputation is at an all-time low to the point whereby the criticisms of its foreign policies and domestic policies, and the high-profile figures who are connected to political figures (exempli gratia: Jeffrey Epstein) are now part of the mainstream political discourse, now is the time to turn that negative reputation around. Will that turnaround happen though? Nobody can be sure, but odds are that it is not looking very likely.

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