American Muslims sound off on Trump rhetoric

By Aaron Kassraie

WASHINGTON, March 18 (KUNA) — During the 2016 Presidential campaign cycle there has been accumulating rhetoric by Republican candidate Donald Trump that has targeted the Muslim faith pushing Americans to claim the candidate has put the country’s fundamental idea of religious freedom under attack.
Trump’s campaign first gained attention for attacking Muslims when he proposed banning them from entering the US in fear that radical terrorists would flood the country. His discourse has since evolved into “attacking the Muslim faith and believing there is an unbelievable hatred in us,” said Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) Executive Director Nihad Awad in a press conference on Trump.
In the US there is an estimated 3.3 million Muslim Americans according to the Pew Research Center, many of whom work in public service positions and are embedded as citizens working for the good of the country. There is an estimated 33,000 Muslims in the US army alone.
Days ago, Trump said on CNN, “I think Islam hates us…There’s a tremendous hatred. We have to get to the bottom of it.” Awad later urged Trump to apologize to the Muslim community especially those who have served in the armed forces. He told American Muslims, “if you are concerned don’t be discouraged, vote and make your voice heard” and said to all Americans, “we have faith in you, America is already great, let’s make it great together.” Outside a Trump rally in St. Louis, Missouri last week CAIR organized an event to provide information on Islam to his supporters attending the event while offering coffee and doughnuts.
“Our goal is to smother them with kindness,” said CAIR-St. Louis Executive Director Faizan Syed in a statement. “Islam teaches us to not counter hate with hate, but with love.” Veeda Ranjber, a Muslim American public school teacher in Virginia told KUNA, “many people have never met a Muslim person and only have the media as a way to relate, which makes it easier to convince people an entire religion is evil.” She believes Trump has gained a following because “many people in this country are still racist…I’m sure people believe he’s ‘telling it like it is’, but his beliefs all stem from misinformation and stereotypes.” She added, “I believe my example as a Muslim American who works, votes, pays their taxes and is a normal person proves that I’m not a stereotype. I’m not going to have a lemonade stand asking people to ‘Meet a Muslim.'” Awad stressed that, “Both Islamic and American values reject bias and racism.” He added that Trump “trashes” American values and its constitution. He has also invited the candidate to meet with him and other Muslim leaders to better inform him about Islam’s practices.
Last week in the state of Kansas, two students, one Muslim and one Hispanic were attacked by an assailant who reportedly were yelling “Trump, Trump, Trump” along with other incendiary comments. Not only has Trump created a platform that some argue to be unconstitutional others now claim that he has created a movement against anyone who is not “white.” In response, the CAIR Kansas Board Chair Moussa Elbayoumy called upon law enforcement to treat the assault as a “hate crime” and for elected officials to condemn the racial motive behind the attack. A case is deemed a hate crime when it is motivated by prejudice and usually comes with a tougher penalty for the offender.
Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama himself has spoken strongly against attacks on faith, race and ethnicity calling the rhetoric “vulgar and divisive.” Obama went on to underline the United States’ reputation as a society that promotes diversity, saying that this should be upheld.
“And while some may be more to blame than others for the current climate, all of us are responsible for reversing it, for it is a cycle that is not an accurate reflection of America. And it has to stop,” said Obama The “driving force” of Islamophobic rhetoric stems primarily from “strongly funded organizations under the umbrella of the Israel lobby,” said Ibraheem Samirah, a Muslim American dental student and activist at Boston University told KUNA. “These organizations’ original goal was to prevent Muslim American civic life but has gotten out of hand and resulted in outright discriminatory practices.” He noted that most importantly people in his community are taking to the polls to make their voices heard. “Conscious politicians are listening to these voters’ voices,” he said.
Last week Bernie Sanders addressed the city of Dearborn, Michigan to appeal to the Muslim and Arab American voters there, he highlighted.
Despite the condemnation of Trump’s comments by Americans of all demographics, it is becoming increasingly likely that the real estate mogul will represent the Republican party in the November presidential elections. Unless Trump changes his tone, this will put more pressure on Trump’s naysayers who find him to be breaking America’s moral fabric. (end) ak.rk