The Financial Express

Anti-Muslim agenda boomerangs on Trump

M Serajul Islam | Published: March 03, 2017 20:19:26 | Updated: October 24, 2017 09:43:54

Anti-Muslim agenda boomerangs on Trump

Donald Trump promised that if elected as the president of the United States, his administration would become a tsunami for the Muslims, the immigrants and Iran, that it would simply sweep away all three like a humungous natural disaster. He cannot be accused of not trying. 
Nevertheless, his efforts so far to steamroll the Muslims have been disastrous. He hastily passed an Executive Order within days of entering the White House banning Muslims temporarily from entering the USA from seven predominantly Muslim countries. The Order contradicted the US Constitution fundamentally on the ground of religious freedom but was turned down by the Court because White House lawyers failed to convince the judges that the United States was in imminent danger of attacks from so-called Islamic terrorists.
The Court's judgment that there was no imminent danger of attacks from the so-called Islamic terrorists was historic because it came in the backdrop of a sudden rise in hate crimes against the Muslims in many places of America since the new president was inaugurated. Mosques were attacked and burnt and women in hijab were harassed and insulted. The majority of the Americans reacted to the hate crimes by joining the victims in numbers that the new administration did not expect.
Mainstream Americans have come out in support of the Muslims in a manner that the new administration could have hardly expected. Although the Muslims, particularly their women in hijab, are in enhanced fear of the racist white supremacists and the religious bigots, the hitherto silent majority of America, largely whites have now openly come out to support the Muslims. 
Thus when a mosque was burnt in Texas, the Jews offered their synagogue to the Muslims to pray until their's was rebuilt. When the talk about registration for Muslims to humiliate them and turn them into second-class citizens like the blacks in apartheid South Africa, mainstream Americans said they would register as Muslims to defeat the move. Sans the liberals, mainstream Americans had not been sympathetic to the Muslims. There is now an outpouring of sympathy for them.
In just over a month, Donald Trump by his senseless pursuit of the Muslims and Islam has thus encouraged the majority of the Americans to look at both Muslims and Islam differently and favourably. In fact, he has divided his country into two broad camps - a minority of racists and religious bigots in one camp passionately supporting the new president and a great majority who now stand by the Muslims. In fact, many who had voted for President Donald Trump for his economic promises are now frustrated and moving away because of his emphasis of racism and bigotry. 
Much more importantly, President Trump's chase of the Muslims has led mainstream Americans to take a renewed look at Islam and so-called radical Islam. And with them, many in the West are doing the same. He had inadvertently encouraged them to do so when during the campaign he had blamed the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003 for the emergence of ISIS/ISIL. He had thought that the blame would justify his criticism of the politicians in Washington.
Instead, Donald Trump's admission during the campaign together with his racist pursuit of Muslims and Islam since becoming the president has opened a Pandora's box. A great many Americans are now realising that so-called Islamic terrorism was a ploy to hide the fact that the illegal US/allied invasion of Iraq and the war in Afghanistan in the name of so-called war on terror had resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent Muslims in the two countries that they had dismissed most insensitively and inhumanly as "collateral damages."
Mainstream America is also finally realising that President Obama was correct in refusing to call acts of terror when the perpetrators were Muslims as Islamic terrorism. He refused to do so for the same reason that he would not call, as nobody would, acts of terror committed by Christians as Christian terrorism when in fact Christians committed many times more acts of terror in America than the Muslims.
In fact, world leaders have also been expressing views on Islam, Muslims and Islamic terrorism in line with President Obama following the anti-Muslim actions of President Donald Trump. Pope Francis, the West's voice of morality and ethics, said that there is nothing called Islamic terrorism, as there is nothing called Christian terrorism and that Islam is a religion of peace. The Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that instead of so-called Islamic terrorism, the world is watching terrorism against Islam. The German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Islam is not a source of terrorism and it is critical to include Muslim countries in the fight against Islamist terror.
These views of world leaders are game changers and have come due to the new American president's mindless assault on Muslims and Islam. Mainstream Americans are now starting to realise that the current turmoil in the Muslim world has come after the US and its allies had killed hundreds and thousands innocent men, women and children during the so-called war on terror in Afghanistan and the illegal invasion of Iraq with their own guns and arms and tanks and bombs.
Donald Trump's obsession on behalf of the Islamophobes is now exposing the US and West's crimes and also the fact that they had unbelievably tried thus far to make the victims - the Muslims -- take responsibility for their crimes that were in fact crimes against humanity. What is worse is that due to what the US and its allies did in these countries, Muslims are fighting Muslims and the arms and the guns for these acts of terror are being supplied by the US and its allies!
Donald Trump has bitten more than he can chew with the issue of Muslims and Islam. Nevertheless, it is good to see that his anti-Muslim actions are turning in favour of the Muslims. He had promised to fine-tune his Executive Order on the Muslim ban but it has not yet come. Meanwhile, he was forced to fire the leading Islamophobe in his administration, the National Security Adviser General Michael Flynn for his alleged Russian connections and has replaced him with General HR McMaster who did not waste a moment to underline that he had quite different views on Muslims and Islam and particularly on Radical Islam.
General HR McMaster spoke on Islam and so-called Radical Islam like he was representing President Obama in his first address after becoming the National Security Adviser. The General said, "The jihadist terrorists aren't true to their professed religion" and the term "radical Islamic terrorism does not help the US work with its allies to defeat terrorist groups." In fact, he said ISIS represented "a perversion of Islam and thus un-Islamic". That was like praises of the Lord from the disbelievers.
General McMaster nevertheless does not believe that the US should suffer any guilt for what happened in the recent past in the conduct of its foreign relations. He further believes that the US strategic thinking should not be the disengagement of President Obama where the country pursued its strategic interests through proxies. He supports Donald Trump's campaign slogan that in foreign affairs "we need to win again" but differs from him that the way to achieve it must be through its allies in the Middle East on its side and not by pushing them to be its antagonists.
If General HM McMaster were to have his ways, USA's relations with the Muslim world may not be one where the doors for the Muslims were likely to be closed anytime soon. Side by side, with mainstream America starting to realise that the Muslims and Islam have been wrongly victimised and continued to be so, it may not be possible for the new president to fulfill the threat of political tsunami for Muslims and Islam that he had promised. Ironically, he may indeed, in the end, do a favour to both the Muslims and Islam by exposing the injustices perpetrated to both since 9/11.

The writer is a former Ambassador.

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