(CNN) President Donald Trump’s speech Sunday will likely be met with skepticism and frustration in the Muslim world, according to experts in the Middle East who said his sudden shift in tone on Islam was unconvincing.
No American president in modern times has disparaged Islam as much as Donald Trump. From the attempted visa ban on Muslim-majority countries to his campaign claims that “Islam hates us” to his Islamaphobic advisers, the president’s record of hostility is well documented.
So his first overseas trip as president is something of a paradox, with a first stop in Saudi Arabia — a major force in the Sunni Arab world —- that includes meetings with members of the royal family, a summit meeting with other Arab leaders and a major speech on Sunday.
Does that mean Mr. Trump has changed his stripes? Given his casual approach to the truth and his malleable belief system, it’s impossible to know his true views on Islam. What we do know is that he needs all the help he can get from Muslim countries to fight the Islamic State. If he uses the speech and the trip to set a new tone with the Muslim world, that would be greatly in America’s interest.
The Saudis, who came to loathe President Barack Obama, are falling over themselves to turn the page. Mr. Trump’s decision to visit Saudi Arabia “lays to rest the notion that America is anti-Muslim,” the Saudi foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, told reporters early this month, ignoring the fact that the real issue is not whether America is anti-Muslim but whether Mr. Trump is. It was he, after all, who stoked xenophobic fires to win the election.
Washington: Fatima Salman, spoke to others outraged over the President’s executive order of ban on travel from seven Muslim-majority countries. Within 17 hours, they were able to reach 10,000 people who organized a protest at Detroit’s airport.
“It was huge. There were people from all walks of life. There were people carrying signs saying, ‘We all Muslims’ written in Arabic, which they’d printed off Google Translate. Some of them were spelled wrongly, but it was very sweet,” said Ms Salman, 39, a social worker.
The protest showed the way Americans responded to the President’s executive orders by uniting and not lying down. As Trump marks 100 days in the White House, people in Detroit from various ethnicities, communities and religions have come together in an unprecedented way to try to protect those at risk to being detained and deported.
Christians, Jews and Muslims gathered for rallies. Congregants from a Latino catholic church marched to a local mosque, while Muslims came out in solidarity with people from Mexico and Central America.
“You have 120 languages in Detroit. In a five mile radius of where you are, there are 70,000 Arab Americans,” said Hassen Jaber, chief executive of Access, a group that works to help the Arab-American community.
“When the travel ban happened, the community mobilised immediately. We had activists getting involved who we’d never heard of before calling for mass demonstrations.”
“The key feature of the response is that different groups and communities have worked to support one another. The Latino community has been hit particularly hard. People have been giving power of attorney in case they are deported,” he said.
FULL ARTICLE FROM SIASAT (Arabic for “Politics”)
Hassan Minhaj asked the question himself when he hosted the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner Saturday night: “Who would have thought, with everything going on in the country right now, that a Muslim would be standing on this stage?”
Even with the typical guest of honor noticeably absent, “The Daily Show” senior correspondent was a notable pick for the event — the first Muslim and first South Asian American to headline the annual Washington roast.
It took him just 30 seconds into his 25-minute set to bring up his religion.
Minhaj pulled from a comedy repertoire built on his experience as a member of a marginalized minority in America, from racist bullying in high school to recent hate crimes against Muslims.
Over the past few months, the 31-year-old has watched the Trump administration reshape the news media that his show comments on. Events have intensified his brand of socially conscious comedy and affected his own immigrant family. After the election, Minhaj told viewers that his mother was afraid that the ban on Muslims that Trump proposed during the campaign would keep her from returning to the country.
The comedian, who considers himself an “angry optimist,” voiced both frustration and honor on behalf of his faith during Saturday’s speech. “As a Muslim, I like to watch Fox News for the same reason I like to play ‘Call of Duty.’ Sometimes, I like to turn my brain off and watch strangers insult my family and my heritage,” he jabbed.
At the end of the night, he said, “Only in America can a first-generation Indian Muslim kid get on this stage and make fun of the president.”
Two weeks after Donald Trump was elected president, Nora decided to remove her headscarf – for good. Weighing on the mind of the 23-year-old were recent assaults against conspicuous Muslims like herself. State suspicion and private violence would only get worse under Trump, she feared. So she hid part of her identity from the world.
Many Muslim men and women, like Nora, choose to conceal their Muslim identity – or express it in a way that is less “threatening” to others. Some take things one step further: they undertake the extreme measure of erasing their Muslim identity altogether by passing as non-Muslim in public.
While this phenomenon predates Trump, he has certainly intensified it. Acting Muslim, today, is especially dangerous.
This is illustrated by the scores of Muslim women “afraid to wear the headscarf” after Trump claimed the presidency, men shaving their beards to diminish detection that they are in fact Muslims, job-seekers changing their Muslim names on résumés to increase the prospect of a job interview, and the known and unknown stories of Muslims passing as non-Muslims at school, work, or the public sphere at large.
This process is also prevalent in Europe, where Islamophobia is more pronounced than it is in the US and fully enshrined into law. The European Union recently broadened France’s 2004 “headscarf ban”, which prohibits Muslim women from wearing the hijab in public schools, to restrict it within the workplace in EU member states.
These policies, combined with the rise of Islamophobic populism throughout the continent, have had a collateral effect on Muslims men and women – pushing many to remove conspicuous markers of religious identity in the public sphere in order to dodge punitive action from the state or bigots on the street.
By Mohamed Abdulkadir Ali
Wednesday saw a significant blow to the Trump administration’s attempts to institute a Muslim ban. A Federal Judge in Hawaii struck down a revised travel ban, saying it was driven by “significant and unrebutted evidence of religious animus” as evidenced by comments made by the administration and Trump himself. As a Somali-American living and working in a large refugee community, this animus has long been apparent and has deeply affected me and those in my community.
Since the launch of his presidential campaign two years ago, Donald Trump seemed to have a particularly virulent animus toward us Somalis. In stops in Minneapolis, and Lewiston, all home to large Somali refugee populations, he referred to Somalis as a “disaster” to the communities they moved to, as a dangerous threat to their neighbors, and as potential terrorists. This was underscored by repeated calls to prevent Muslims from entering the country, warnings of the dangers of Muslim refugees, and denunciations of Islam as an enemy of America. Many in our community called it hate.
Why does he hate us” was an often repeated question.
When the executive order was announced in January, it was clear to many of us that its creation was driven by this hatred. Statements of securing our nation and preventing a terrorist threat, many of them baseless, could not cloak that this order was an amalgamation of Trump’s unique brand of cheap jingoism, xenophobia, racism, and Islamophobia. We were being targeted, because of our nationality, of the color of our skin, and of our religion. When the second version of the order was released, despite attempts to “water down” language targeting Muslims, it could not sterilize the intent. Two years of anti-Muslim speeches and rhetoric are well documented and videos of him railing against refugees and Muslims can be easily found on Youtube.
Going into the latest court battle over President Trump’s revised travel ban, government lawyers were well aware that the administration’s incendiary — many say bigoted — rhetoric about Muslims would be a liability.
Before the initial executive order was even issued, opponents had pulled together a list of public statements by Trump and his surrogates calling for a “Muslim ban” and blaming Islam for the nation’s problems. The states that challenged the order in court did the same, saying the remarks were evidence that the administration intended to discriminate against Muslims.
In response, the government’s lawyers asked a federal judge to, effectively, look the other way. Instead of focusing on Trump’s past remarks, they argued, the judge should only consider the plain language of the revised order in deciding whether it violated the Constitution.
But in his blistering opinion Wednesday freezing the new travel ban, U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson said statements by Trump and his senior advisers were precisely what called its legality into question.
“These plainly-worded statements, made in the months leading up to and contemporaneous with the signing of the Executive Order, and, in many cases, made by the Executive himself, betray the Executive Order’s stated secular purpose,” Watson wrote.