Amer­i­can Mus­lims see Trump rhetoric fu­el­ing hate in­ci­dents

Pakistan Observer - - INTERNATIONAL -

WASH­ING­TON—About three months ago, Sarah Ibrahim’s son came home from his fourth-grade class at a Mary­land school with a dis­turb­ing ques­tion.

“Will I have time to say good­bye to you be­fore you’re de­ported?” he said, ac­cord­ing to Ibrahim, a Mus­lim Arab Amer­i­can who works at a fed­eral gov­ern­ment agency in Mary­land.

“The kids in his class­room were say­ing: ‘Who’s go­ing to leave when Trump be­comes pres­i­dent?’” said the 35-yearold mother.

The in­ci­dent hap­pened a few months af­ter Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Don­ald Trump — now the pre­sump­tive nom­i­nee — first called for a ban on Mus­lim im­mi­grants and for more scru­tiny at mosques af­ter 14 peo­ple were killed in San Bernardino by a Mus­lim cou­ple whom the FBI said had been rad­i­cal­ized.

Trump in­ten­si­fied his anti-Mus­lim rhetoric af­ter last week’s mass shoot­ing in Or­lando, in which a US-born Mus­lim man killed 49 peo­ple at a gay night­club, call­ing for a sus­pen­sion of im­mi­gra­tion from coun­tries with “a proven his­tory of ter­ror­ism”.

He re­it­er­ated his call for more sur­veil­lance of mosques and warned that rad­i­cal Mus­lims were “try­ing to take over our chil­dren.”

While Demo­cratic and sev­eral Repub­li­can lead­ers have dis­tanced them-

LUCY P. MAR­CUS S the United King­dom’s debate about whether to with­draw from the Euro­pean Union has heated up, “in” and “out” have come to de­fine the stark choice fac­ing vot­ers in next week’s “Brexit” ref­er­en­dum. The Bri­tish are not alone: the world is in­creas­ingly di­vided be­tween the men­tal­i­ties un­der­pin­ning sup­port for the “leave” and “re­main” cam­paigns.

Do cit­i­zens and their lead­ers want to work with oth­ers to­wards greater se­cu­rity and pros­per­ity or do they think that they are bet­ter served by iso­lat­ing them­selves behind real or vir­tual walls?

Those with an “out” mind­set view the world through a Hobbe­sian lens, see­ing ev­ery­where the dan­ger of peo­ple with un­reg­u­lated pas­sions, driven to do them harm. Only an om­nipo­tent Le­viathan can en­sure or­der and se­cu­rity.

This is essen­tially the world­view — gra­da­tions of ex­trem­ism not­with­stand­ing — of Aus­tria’s Free­dom Party, Greece’s Golden Dawn, the UK In­de­pen­dence Party, Hun­gary’s rul­ing Fidesz Party, and sim­i­lar forces through­out Europe and the West, not to men­tion the world’s au­toc­ra­cies and out­right dic­ta­tor­ships.

Theirs is a pol­i­tics of fear and dog-whis­tle in­cite­ment of the ex­trem­ist forces that ex­ist in ev­ery so­ci­ety. And, as we have seen in both the UK’s Brexit debate and the United States’ pres­i­den­tial elec­tion

Aselves from Trump’s com­ments, many Amer­i­can Mus­lims say his stance has fu­eled an at­mos­phere in which some may feel they can voice prej­u­dices or at­tack Mus­lims with­out fear of ret­ri­bu­tion.

“What Trump did was make th­ese hid­den thoughts pub­lic. He gave peo­ple per­mis­sion to speak out loud, he re­moved the shame as­so­ci­ated with be­ing prej­u­diced. Peo­ple know that they won’t be pun­ished,” Ibrahim told Reuters at a com­mu­nity if­tar, the sun­down meal dur­ing the Mus­lim fast­ing month of Ra­madan.

Trump’s cam­paign did not re­spond to Reuters’ re­quest for com­ment. Trump has re­jected the crit­i­cism that his rhetoric is racist, and has said he is of­ten mis­un­der­stood by the me­dia and his op­po­nents. A re­port by the Coun­cil on Amer­i­can-Is­lamic Re­la­tions and Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley re­leased on Mon­day said the num­ber of recorded in­ci­dents in which mosques were tar­geted jumped to 78 in 2015, the most since the body be­gan track­ing them in 2009. There were 20 and 22 such in­ci­dents in the pre­vi­ous two years, re­spec­tively. The in­ci­dents in­clude ver­bal threats and phys­i­cal at­tacks.

Corey Say­lor, CAIR’s direc­tor of the de­part­ment to mon­i­tor and com­bat Is­lam­o­pho­bia, said there had been a spike in Is­lam­o­pho­bic in­ci­dents in the wake of Or­lando, in­clud­ing those tar­get­ing mosques.

“Trump’s rhetoric is a di­rect threat to Amer­i­can prin­ci­ples. He has main­streamed anti-Con­sti­tu­tional ideas like ban­ning or surveilling peo­ple based on faith,” Say­lor told Reuters.

“Such di­vi­sive rhetoric con­trib­utes to a toxic en­vi­ron­ment in which some peo­ple take the law into their own hands and at­tack peo­ple of in­sti­tu­tions they per­ceive as Mus­lim.” “Di­vid­ing the coun­try”

CAIR says the last big spike in in­ci­dents tar­get­ing mosques was seen in 2010 fol­low­ing the con­tro­versy over lo­cat­ing an Is­lamic cen­ter near the site of the Sept. 11 at­tacks in New York.

It said that lent “ad­di­tional weight to the ar­gu­ment that lev­els of an­tiMus­lim sen­ti­ment fol­low trends in do­mes­tic US pol­i­tics, not in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ism”.—Agen­cies

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