Right-wing Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump last month, when asked in an interview, declared he would be in favour of special security measures for Muslims in the US: ID cards and a database in which they’ll be on record…Yellow stars spring to mind…
Hearing this reminded me of the not so distant ideas of Nazi Germany. While in no way whatsoever am I comparing the Jewish Holocaust and the tragedy that the Jewish community suffered to such current events, the situation is this:
Muslims have been identified as “troublemakers”, “a cause for concern” and Trump’s comments are singling out a community en masse.
Trump expressed his concerns for the need for surveillance and security in the fight against terrorism. Visually singling out the Jews by making them wear a yellow star in Nazi Germany wasn’t due to apparent “security concerns” – it was due to a deep seated prejudice and blatant scapegoating of religious-cultural community by a lunatic fascist. Whilst in the US and worldwide, there have been an unfortunate series of terrorist attacks committed through ISIS which all citizens (both Muslim and non-Muslim) need to be protected from, beneath the surface however, this suggestion was not innocent of discrimination and Islamophobia. The idea of Muslim ID or a database still “otherises” an entire community.
In relation to Islam, in an interview with Al Jazeera Trump said:
“We’ve heard it over and over again. The word Islam means peace. As Muslims we have been commanded to live in peace and respect our neighbours. Islam teaches that the killing of one innocent person is the killing of all mankind.”
Trump claims to recognise the meaning and worth of Islam and how it doesn’t represent terrorism but it doesn’t sound like he’s very convinced to me or even ready to stand with Muslims: “We’ve heard it over and over again” sounds somewhat tiresome, disinterested and disengaged. As a Muslim I’ll repeat – such teachings of peace are true Islam. The facts don’t change and what’s also true is that as a functioning loyal member of European society, I – just like the majority of Muslims – pose no risk to society and the same goes for American Muslims. No community should be posed as a “risk” or “security concern” and singled out just for being who they are. It’s been stated this community’s fundamental beliefs are peace, kindness and respect and to do doubt otherwise is revealing of further ills in society.
Since receiving online criticism via a series of tweets by Muslims in the US, Trump has dropped the idea. Yet, the problem still remains: intolerance and Islamophobia. Just check out these figures on Trump supporters:
-58% of Trump voters think thousands of Arabs in New Jersey celebrated the attacks of 9/11
-53% of Trump supporters are in favor of a national database of Muslims
-49% of Trump supporters want to shut down the mosques in the United States
Trump supporters are apparently uncomfortable with American Muslims and aren’t familiar with the concept of religious freedom. They certainly aren’t well informed or engaged with the Muslim community.
Islamophobia (as well as anti-Jewish sentiment) is on the rise – including sporadic Islamophobic attacks on members of the public such as women in headscarves as “visible victims” proudly fulfilling their commitment to God and exerting their rights to freedom of religion. Well, I’m proud to be a Muslim and I’m proud to be British. I’m proud of my faith and the freedom it offers me and the US as a democracy should not discriminate through religion. In the current climate, different communities need to work together – not become (further) divided.
So to Trump, I say:
And to Trump supporters, I say:
#visitamosque – go see the peace in action: engage, discuss, talk to Muslims, ask for a guided tour around the mosque. There was an initiative not so long ago in the UK, plus other lovely news stories such as that of a lady at a rally in the US who was met with a hug by a Muslim lady and later visited a local mosque – taking home a copy of the Qur’an in English. Build bridges, not hatred. It’s not fair on Muslims and it’s not going to beat terrorism.
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