“Hey, Mr. President. Wake up!” former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani yelled to the crowd at the Iranian American Community of Arizona symposium Friday afternoon.
The free symposium, held at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel on Van Buren and Third streets, was held to promote countering the spread of Islamic fundamentalism in a potentially nuclear-armed Iran.
The United States should be leading a coalition against Islamic terrorism, Giuliani said, and criticized President Barack Obama’s foreign policy.
“Obama is selling us out to Iran,” Giuliani said. “It must be stopped. It has to be stopped. Our last resort is our Congress, and our Congress represents our people.”
Islamic fundamentalism refers to a variety of movements in the Middle East that seek to impose strict interpretations of Islamic law and to repel secular or Western influences.
Keynote speakers included Giuliani and General Hugh Shelton, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Former White House Director of Public Liaison Linda Chavez moderated the event.
The Iranian American Community of Arizona strives to “act as a bridge between Iranian culture and heritage and modern-day America,” according to its website. The event aimed to start a conversation that pushes the United States to transform its policy on Iran.
The speakers said that lack of coordination between Iranian and American interests have muddled relations between the two nations.
“President Obama’s policy is going to make the crisis worse,” Shelton said.
“Unfortunately, (Iran has) been quite successful through their tricks and at buying time,” said Abby Ameri, a member of the Iranian American Community of Arizona and event organizer.
The event invitation drew attention to Iran’s political, military and financial ties to the Bashar Al-Assad regime in Syria, terrorist groups in Lebanon and the Houthi insurgents in Yemen.
Ameri emphasized the local level of security and mentioned the death of ISIS hostage Kayla Mueller, who was born in Prescott.
“People think this is only an issue in Iran. It has spread to our state of Arizona and it is our responsibility to do something about it,” Ameri said.
Shelton said that he thought that Mueller’s death was indicative of larger issues with Obama’s policies.
“I fear that as long as Obama’s weak-willed policy continues, she will not be the last,” Shelton said.
As her closing remark, Chavez challenged the audience to educate others and reach out to Congress as a way to keep Americans safe from potential interactions with nuclear arms in the future.
Clarification: September 3, 2016: An earlier version of this story misquoted Gen. Shelton as talking about the Obama administration. It has been updated to reflect his quote about Obama’s policy.
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