When Air Force One touched down in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Donald Trump became the first President of the United States to make his first stop overseas in a majority Muslim country. The President and the First Lady were greeted with a handshake from 81-year-old Saudi King Salman who “was brought to the steps of the plane on a golf cart.” As part of the elaborate ceremony, “several flew overhead leaving a red, white and blue trail.” http://www.haaretz.com/us-news/1.790468
Saudi Arabia offered Trump an elaborate welcome ahead of his two-day stay. Billboards featuring the image of Trump and the king dotted the highways of Riyadh and lights bathed Trump’s luxury hotel in red, white and blue light and, at times, an image of the president’s face.
While in Saudi Arabia President Trump announced a “$110 billion deal in advanced military equipment sales and training to the kingdom.” He also spoke at the regional Arab-Islamic-American summit where he focused on fighting terrorism.
According to Michael Brown, http://www.haaretz.com/us-news/1.790468 Trump’s speech before 50 Muslim leaders was “highly significant for at least four reasons.” The first reason is that “Trump mentioned `terror’ or `terrorism’ 30 times.” This is a great contrast to Barack Obama who did not mention terrorism at all in his speech at a similar gathering in 2009. In fact, Trump bluntly spoke of “the crisis of Islamist extremism and the Islamist terror groups it inspires.”
Trump urged the group to stand “together against the murder of innocent Muslims, the oppression of women, the persecution of Jews, and the slaughter of Christians,” and he did this in “the heart of Islamic holy land, Saudi Arabia.” He “called on these Muslim leaders to `drive out’ the terrorists from `your places of worship … your communities … your holy land, and this earth.”
Brown’s second reason is that “Trump identified Iran as the enemy, linking Iran directly and repeatedly to Islamic terrorism. He called it `the government that gives terrorist … safe harbor, financial backing, and the social standing needed for recruitment.’ He labeled it `a regime that is responsible for so much instability in the region.’”
Brown says that Trump’s comments “had to be unprecedented for an American president speaking in such a setting.” He noted that Trump spoke of the desire to destroy Israel as “evil.” By mentioning Shias and Sunnis, Trump “was stating that his issue was with terrorism, not Islamic sectarianism.”
Brown’s third reason was the organizations that Trump lumped together. He “put Hamas and Hezbollah in the same category as ISIS and Al-Qaeda. This means that opposition to Israel is not a justification for terrorism.” Brown quotes Trump as saying, “The true toll of ISIS, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, and so many others, must be counted not only in the number of dead. It must also be counted in generations of vanished dreams.” He also quotes Trump as saying, “You may call Hamas and Hezbollah freedom fighters against the Israeli occupation. We call them terrorists.”
Brown’s fourth reason is Trump’s rejection of “the theology of martyrdom by suicide bombing. He quoted Trump as saying, “Terrorists do not worship God, they worship death.” Trump added, “This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects, or different civilizations. This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life, and decent people of all religions who seek to protect it. This is a battle between Good and Evil.”
Brown says that Trump reminded the Muslim leaders that “the victims of this terror are primarily Muslims. He said that `the deadliest toll has been exacted on the innocent people of Arab, Muslim and Middle Eastern nations. They have borne the brunt of the killings and the worst of the destruction in this wave of fanatical violence. Some estimates hold that more than 95 percent of the victims of terrorism are themselves Muslim.’”
Brown includes statements of opposition for most of his reasons and claims that he is far from being “Trump’s defender-in-chief.”
We can certainly debate his policies, actions, and words at home…. We can question the propriety of the massive arms deal with Saudi Arabia….
But we should not question the landmark nature of Trump’s speech, which also referenced the oppression of women and called on these Muslim nations to lead the way in repatriating Muslim refugees.
In short, an American president stood on holy Islamic ground and called on 50 Islamic leaders to fight against Islamic terrorism. This is highly significant.
Trump appears to be the President needed for our time. He is unafraid to state the facts and to be a leader in this war against terrorism. If nothing else, Trump’s “significant” speech in Saudi Arabia gave notice to the 50 represented nations that the Obama era is over and the Trump era has definitely begun. Trump will also visit Israel and the Vatican while on his “religious tour,” and the reports of those visits should be interesting. This writer is grateful to have a President who refuses to bow to any world leader as well as one who will stand tall in defense of freedom everywhere.