By CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid
President Donald Trump’s first trip abroad while in office reflects a small glimmer of hope yet reinforces the view of a large percentage of Americans that he is leading an administration full of policy confusion. Indeed Mr. Trump did exhibit the most presidential posture while abroad thus far in his young term in office. He showed a level of diplomacy with foreign heads of state, did not go into a tirade about the media nor publicly called any of his political dissent pejoratives. In the wake of the recent extremist attack in Manchester, United Kingdom, he even called the attackers “evil losers” and abstained from labeling the attack according to religion, something that he criticized President Barack Obama and Secretary Hillary Clinton for often while on the campaign trail. Bravo Mr. President. The improvement in tone, however, did not necessarily reflect a more illuminated shift in policy towards Muslims.
As Mr. Trump traveled halfway across the world to speak to heads of state in the Muslim world and gave salutatory comments about autocrats, he has not engaged much less listened to his own Muslim population which constitutes of approximately 7 million citizens. Adding insult to injury, the principal writer of his speech to Muslims was Stephen Miller, the author of the controversial Muslim ban executive orders which judges across our national have called into questioned as being unconstitutional. That the president had the architect of the infamous Muslim ban who also has long-standing ties with a leading anti-Muslim think tank in America craft a speech to Muslims on the global stage typifies the reckless nature in which the Oval Office handles affairs.
As Mr. Trump correctly stated that Muslims constitute about 95 percent of the victims of global terrorism, he should also publicly acknowledge the level of hate crimes including murders that have been perpetrated at home against Muslims and other people of color. Given that he stated that “our first priority is always the safety and security of our own citizens,” his administration should be increasing efforts and speaking more forcefully against the growing scourge of racists and white supremacists intimidating, harming and killing Americans. As the Commander in Chief should have on his radar threats from abroad, the greater threat to the daily safety and security in real numbers is Americans threatening and murdering other Americans such the white supremacist who recently murdered two persons who stood up again him for threatening two young ladies while yelling anti-Muslim hate speech. His silence on the rise of the danger posed by the rise of white supremacy is deafening and not lost upon the American Muslim community.
The reality is that while President Trump garners praise from authoritarian regimes abroad, he sent a message to rank and file that he does not really care for nor respect Muslims. He stated that Saudi Arabia was responsible for 9/11 while running for office then celebrates a multi-billion dollar arms deal with them as they commit war crimes in Yemen according to international monitors such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. He stated in his speech that he respects Islam as a great world religion then, on the other hand, treats American Muslims and their families who travel here as the enemy within. He spoke of the tremendous devastation that extremists have caused in the Arab world then seeks to block Syrians refugees including the elderly and orphans, who have been affected the most from groups such as Daesh and Al-Qaeda, from being resettled here.
Engaging Muslims only under the framework of counter-terrorism is not the way forward in showing respect to Muslims worldwide, especially with the millions of Muslims in America who range from academics and athletes to high school students who face increased bullying in schools and new immigrants that are harassed on the streets. President Trump would be better served building a more authentic relationship with Muslims by protecting civil liberties at home, discontinuing the receipt of guidance from known racists and anti-Muslim bigots and having discussion with a diverse set of voices within the American Muslim community instead of getting handclaps from and selling weapons to autocrats abroad that repress their own Muslim populations.