Tags: Muslim | Syracuse | Dempsey | Obama

Gen. Dempsey to Syracuse Muslim: 'Are You Taliban?'

By    |   Saturday, 01 Nov 2014 04:19 PM

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey's office says he was only cracking a joke about a Muslim man's beard when he asked him Friday during a Syracuse University speech if he was a member of the Taliban, but a Muslim civil rights and advocacy group isn't laughing.

On Friday, when the bearded man stood during a Q&A session following the general's speech to ask Dempsey a question about the difficulties of meeting people face-to-face, Dempsey asked him "are you Taliban?" before quickly adding that he was kidding, reports Syracuse.com.

The man who asked the question,Yusuf Soule, is the director of the Northside Learning Center, an Islamic nonprofit, all-volunteer organization that provides literacy education for adults and children in Syracuse. After the speech, he said that he wasn't offended and believes Dempsey when he said he was only joking.

Further, he added that he thinks Dempsey, the nation's highest-ranking military officer and one of President Barack Obama's top military advisers, is "a funny guy."

"I hear things like that all the time," said Soule, who converted to Islam in 1999. "Airports are the worst."

However, Ibrahim Hooper, the communications director at the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told The Hill he does not agree with Soule, and he does not think Dempsey's statement was at all funny.

"I think this is yet another symptom of the growing anti-Muslim sentiment in our society,” Hooper said. “I would put this more in the category of casual Islamophobia. It’s joking and jovial, but it’s Islamophobia nonetheless.”

The fact that the joke came from Dempsey, who has served as acting commander of U.S. Central Command and who headed efforts to train the Iraqi military after Iraq President Saddam Hussein was overthrown made the jest "all the more disturbing."

Nonetheless, the Rev. Tiffany Steinwert, dean of Hendricks Chapel at Syracuse, approached Soule after the speech and apologized on behalf of the university, reports Syracuse.com.

In addition, Dempsey's spokesman, Col. Ed Thomas told The Hill that "the chairman regrets that his use of humor was misunderstood."

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Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey's office says he was only cracking a joke about a Muslim man's beard when he asked him Friday during a Syracuse University speech if he was a member of the Taliban, but a Muslim civil rights and advocacy group isn't...
Muslim, Syracuse, Dempsey, Obama
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2014-19-01
Saturday, 01 Nov 2014 04:19 PM
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