Trump Signals it’s Open Season on Muslims.
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“It’s currently an open season on Muslims,” said Suzanne Barakat, a Muslim American whose brother was murdered “execution style” by an avowed atheist extremist in 2015 within footsteps of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Within days of the shooting, which not only took the life of Barakat’s brother but also his fiancé and his to be sister-in-law, Abed Ayoub, the legal director of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, warned, “For the first time we noticed that the threats have taken a turn. It’s no longer like, ‘you towel-heads, you rag-heads, go back to the desert’. It’s ‘I’m going to send you back there in a box.’”
That was more nearly three years ago, and needless to say that in the shadow of the Trump presidency things have become a lot worse.
Hate crimes against Muslims have spiked since Trump announced his candidacy for president in 2015, the year of the Chapel Hill killings. In fact, hate crimes that target Muslims surged 584 percent from 2014 to 2016, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Until now, however, Trump has chosen to turn a blind eye to violence and terrorism against Muslims.
When an avowed Trump supporter walked into a mosque in Quebec City in late January with an AK47 and murdered six Muslims in cold blood, Trump said nothing. When a white nationalist terrorist drove his van into Muslims leaving and entering Finsbury Park mosque in London in June, Trump said nothing. When Christian extremists were arrested for plotting to carry out a large-scale terrorist attack against Somali Americans at an apartment complex in Kansas on election day, Trump said nothing, and Trump hasn’t uttered a single apologetic word in response to the more than 2,000 civilianshe has killed in Iraq and Syria.
But Trump has replaced silence with tacit endorsement of violence against Muslims.
Last week, Trump retweeted three consecutive tweets from Jaydan Fransen of Britain First, a far right hate group, whose founders were imprisoned for carrying out acts of violence against Muslims and immigrants.
The first tweet purported to show a group of Muslims pushing a boy off a roof, while the second claimed to show a Muslim destroying a statue of the Virgin Mary, and a third claimed to show a Muslim immigrant hitting a Dutch boy on crutches. Not only were these claims unverified, but all have now been proven to be fake news, generated by anti-Muslim hate groups.
While Trump’s lies are easily unpacked and debunked, the damage they impart on civil society can’t be undone. Trump has not only given legitimacy to a racist, anti-Muslim hate group, but has earned glowing praise for his tacit endorsement of Britain First, earning commendations from the leader of the KKK to anti-Muslim extremists everywhere.
From these words and signals come violence and discrimination, and the five days since Trump’s tweets give growing cause for alarm.
On Monday, a 69-year-old right wing Christian terrorist, who shared fake news articles about Muslims, similar to the kind shared by the President of the United States, was arrested for plotting to annihilate Muslim worshippers at a mosque in Floriday.
The same day, a Britain First supporter told a friend, “I’m going to kill a Muslim. I’m doing it for Britain,” right before he intentionally drove his van into a curry house.
Trump’s tweets and attacks against Muslims, both executed and plotted, are taking place against a backdrop of antipathy and hatred towards a religious minority the likes the Western world has not experienced since the 1930s. A demonstabale surge of hate crimes carried out against Muslims speaks to this, as does the fact that anti-Muslim military-style training camps are now being set up across Europe, with one group now boasting chapters in France, Italy, Germany and Austria.
“Embracing violent, total solutions is only taking it one step further,” warns Julia Ebner, author of The Rage: the Vicious Circle of Islamist and Far Right Extremism, inferring that a return of the unthinkable is not so unimaginable in today’s Europe.
Foreign Policy magazine has gone so far to describe Trump’s anti-Muslim tweets as, by far, the worst thing Trump has done or said since taking office, arguing that they have created “peril for the nation — and humanity itself.”
“Some of the greatest crimes in human history have begun with moments like this one. Social scientists agree that attacks on an entire class of people — whether identified by their race, religion, education, or any other distinguishing characteristic — do not happen spontaneously. First the mob has to be primed. The targeted group has to be demonized through a campaign of hateful misinformation, always presented as legitimate information by people in positions of trust. Then the signal for violence falls on ready ears,” writes Daniel Altman.
Violence that is already well underway against Muslims living in the West. For instance, the UK has not only experienced a 40 percent year-on-year increasein hate crimes, but also experienced a more than 500 percent increase in hate crimes against Muslims in the week following the ISIS-motivated London Bridge attack. Meanwhile anti-Muslim hate crimes in the US doubled in the first half of 2017 compared to the first half of the previous year.
For more than a decade, Western countries have been inching ever closer to a return of the unthinkable, only this time against Muslims. Mosques are being vandalized and destroyed, Muslims are being vilified as the dangerous other by both political entrepreneurs and shameless opportunists, while the President of the United States of America tempts jackboot thugs to do their very worst.
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