Does Donald Trump believe Islam is a religion?
It was a straightforward question, asked of Sebastian Gorka, deputy assistant to the president, during a radio interview last week. His answer was anything but straightforward, however.
“It’s not a discussion about Islam as a religion or not a religion,” he replied. “It’s about radical Islamic terrorism. We are prepared to be honest about the threat. We’re not going to white it out, delete it as the Obama administration did.”
But is it a religion?
“I think you should ask him that question,” Gorka continued. “But I would say that’s really a misreading of everything he’s said over the last 18 months.”
A closer look at Mr Trump’s comments over the last year and a half only complicates the matter, however – as do the views of the advisers closest to the new president.
Mr Trump has repeatedly warned of the dangers of “radical Islamic terrorism” – a line viewed as a direct rebuke of Barack Obama, who while president had pointedly refused to use the term.
He slammed Mr Obama and Hillary Clinton for being “founders” of the so-called Islamic State. He publicly feuded with the parents of a Muslim US soldier killed in Iraq. He has, at times, advocated a temporary ban on Muslims entering the US and instituted a “watch list” for those already in the US.
These policies and actions, critics say, reveal an anti-Islamic animus that lies at the heart of Mr Trump’s politics.