American Muslims see Trump rhetoric fueling hate incidents
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