The Media Is Missing the Real Story of Trump’s Racism

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Hampton

In August 2017, three men from rural Illinois—members of one of our country’s numerous heavily armed and rather poorly regulated “militias”—drove to Bloomington, Minnesota, just south of Minneapolis, to plant an IED in the Dar al-Farooq Islamic Center. Following their arrest, two of the men admitted their guilt. They had set out from Illinois, they said, determined to scare Muslims into leaving the United States.

“Why,” he asked, “don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came?”

As the fact-checkers noted in their analyses of Trump’s newest “New Low,” only Omar was born in another country. For once, the president took the Pinocchios to heart: He homed in on Omar in a diatribe at a rally in Greenville, North Carolina, a few days later, running through a litany of generically Islamophobic claims until the enthused crowd began chanting, for 13 uninterrupted seconds, “send her back.”


This Muslim woman is not only an Olympic weightlifter, she also has an engineering PhD

PRI_78930743Being a woman in a male-dominated field is no easy feat, particularly where physical capabilities are concerned. And Kulsoom Abdullah is bossing one of the biggest male-dominated industries – weightlifting. The Pakistani-American is one of the very few Muslim women in the profession and is the first to represent Pakistan at the World Championship. She is also the only Muslim woman to compete in an international weightlifting event while wearing a hijab.

Kulsoom has been competing in Olympic weightlifting competitions since 2010, after taking an interest in taekwondo.

Just in case that wasn’t enough, Kulsoom also has a PhD in engineering (putting us all to shame). Oh and she has  PhD.

The journey to the World Championship, which takes place in Thailand this September, has been a long one for Kulsoom. She was denied entry into the national weightlifting championship in 2010 because she wore a headscarf. But she wasn’t willing to lie down and take this, so challenged the rules and was able to enter the following year. ‘It was very disappointing and affected my training even though I was used to some discrimination,’ she explains to




Searching our souls for national unity

pic_8“Bareer kachhe arshee nagar

shetha porshee boshot kore

Ek ghar porshee boshot kore

Ami ekdino na dekhilam tare.”

This epic refrain of Fakir Lalon rings around our collective South Asian conscience every time people of one religious identity inflicts mindless violence on the people of other faiths, like Hindus murdering innocent Muslims in Maharashtra, Buddhists pillaging Rohingya villages in Myanmar or Muslims blowing up Christians in Sri Lanka. The simple fact of life is that ethnically we are all the same or of similar ethnic mix but we hardly know our own people belonging to other faiths, living in our midst. The ethnic similarity between a Christian, a Hindu or a Muslim family in any part of the sub-continent is hidden in plain sight by insurmountable walls of religious intolerance and bigotry. Similar complexion, language, customs and culture of Muslims, Hindus, Christians and agnostics in our region somehow have given way to siloed identities belying the stark homogeneity of the people irrespective of faith. This has frustrated great thinkers and humanists for generations like Lalon, Rabindranath and Nazrul.

Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?

Questions of Faith

The question of whether Christians and Muslims worship the same God has been a point of contention among different religious denominations and various scholars. It has been suggested that the sheer disparities theologically and philosophically between both religions indicate that its adherents must be praying to separate deities. It seems, however, that arguments which support differentiating the two aren’t sound.


Both Islam and Christianity, just like Judaism, are monotheistic religions tracing their roots back to Abraham. While Muslims believe that the Bible has been corrupted or altered in some shape or form, they still hold that God revealed his message to the prophets like Moses and Abraham.

The Vatican II document Lumen Gentium makes this clear when it reads: “The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.” (16)


But while the Church teaches that both religions worship the same God, an important distinction must be made, namely that our conception of God is different. Muslims, for example, don’t believe that Jesus was the Son of God or hold to the doctrine of the Trinity. This doesn’t mean that Muslims aren’t referring to the same God, only that they have a different sense of who God is.

It’s a difficult concept to get your head around, so an analogy would best serve to elucidate the point. Suppose there’s a man called Fred who has two siblings.

One sibling sees him as charming and kind; the other views him as a cold and self-centred. Both siblings conceive of Fred in different ways, but there’s no doubt that they’re definitely referring to the same person.

Likewise, even though Muslims don’t understand God in the same way as Christians, it doesn’t mean they aren’t genuinely directing their prayers to him.


I Help Muslim Refugees Because I am a Christian

1_8A3Elrbf1F3mE4brmAuF7QIt was cold and damp in the water-stained apartment in Jordan that is now the sparsely furnished home of a Syrian refugee family. But the welcoming smile of Alima, the mother of five, brought warmth. (She requested that we not use her real name for fear of safety.) Though I had traveled 6,000 miles to be there, Alima’s smile — and the tea her son served — made me feel immediately at home.

Then Alima began to talk about her life. Her smile quickly faded, and a look of worry and despair took over. Her husband’s medical problems make it difficult for him to work, she told me. Two of her children need surgery to remove their tonsils. Her youngest child is 6 years old and has never been to school. All of her children suffer from psychological trauma from their experiences in Syria.

“They lost their childhood,” she says.

Alima was one of several refugees I met when I traveled to Jordan last month as part of my work for Catholic Relief Services (CRS), a humanitarian aid organization in the United States. It was my first trip to the Middle East, and it helped me understand the struggles of the people we serve and our obligations as Christians to help them.

Refugees fleeing active war zones usually must leave quickly. They bring very few possessions with them, and sometimes are forced to even leave family members behind. Families that do leave together can become separated once they cross a border.

Salwaa, a 74-year-old Syrian refugee I met in Jordan, has eight children. Two of her sons are in Brazil, one son is with her in Jordan, and her five other children are still in Syria. She has not seen in her daughters in almost five years. “It’s hard because they are my children,” Salwaa says. “No one leaves their children by choice.”

Salwaa also has grandchildren that she’s never met. The pain of this separation and the worry over her children living in a warzone brought her to tears.

As a Christian, I turn to the teachings of Jesus to guide my life. I believe we are all part of one family. That means welcoming the stranger, loving our neighbors as ourselves, and working for the good of all people.


What Americans Know About Religion

U.S. adults generally can answer basic questions about the Bible and Christianity, but are less familiar with other world religions

PF_19.06.26_RKSquiz_featuredBefore you read the report
Test your religious knowledge by taking an interactive quiz. The short quiz includes some questions recently asked in the nationally representative survey that forms the basis of this report. After completing the quiz, you can see how you did in comparison with the general public and with people like yourself.

Take the Quiz

Most Americans are familiar with some of the basics of Christianity and the Bible, and even a few facts about Islam. But far fewer U.S. adults are able to correctly answer factual questions about Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism, and most do not know what the U.S. Constitution says about religion as it relates to elected officials. In addition, large majorities of Americans are unsure (or incorrect) about the share of the U.S. public that is Muslim or Jewish, according to a new Pew Research Center survey that quizzed nearly 11,000 U.S. adults on a variety of religious topics.

Our surveys often ask people about their opinions, but this one was different, asking 32 fact-based, multiple-choice questions about topics related to religion (see here for full list of questions). The average U.S. adult is able to answer fewer than half of them (about 14) correctly.

The questions were designed to span a spectrum of difficulty. Some were meant to be relatively easy, to establish a baseline indication of what nearly all Americans know about religion. Others were intended to be difficult, to differentiate those who are most knowledgeable about religious topics from everyone else.1

The survey finds that Americans’ levels of religious knowledge vary depending not only on what questions are being asked, but also on who is answering. Jews, atheists, agnostics and evangelical Protestants, as well as highly educated people and those who have religiously diverse social networks, show higher levels of religious knowledge, while young adults and racial and ethnic minorities tend to know somewhat less about religion than the average respondent does.


Ambivalent nativism: Trump supporters’ attitudes toward Islam and Muslim immigration

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Trump speaks at a campaign rally in HamptonEditor’s Note:This working paper is part of a multi-year Brookings project—”The One Percent Problem: Muslims in the West and the Rise of the New Populists.” Other papers in the series are available here.


  1. Islam and the American Right
  2. Survey data on Trump voters’ attitudes towards Muslims and other groups
  3. Trump supporters’ views on Islam, national identity, and immigration in their own words
  4. Conclusion

Despite representing a little more than one percent of the total U.S. population,[1] American Muslims have long been viewed with suspicion by their fellow citizens. This has been true since the Iranian Revolution and hostage crisis in the late 1970s, but American attitudes toward Islam turned especially negative following the September 11 terrorist attacks, which many American commentators blamed directly on Islamic religious doctrines.[2]


The political right in the United States, on average, has exhibited more suspicion of Islam and Muslims than the political left, and many conservative media personalities have expressed considerable hostility towards Muslims.[3] Other conservative political and intellectual leaders have called for religious tolerance, however. Thus, conservatives in the electorate have received mixed messages from elected Republicans and conservative opinion leaders. American attitudes toward Islam and Muslims became an especially important subject after Donald Trump was elected president on a right-wing populist platform that explicitly called for a ban on Muslim immigration. This paper examines Trump supporters’ views on questions of Islam, immigration, and national identity. Beyond asking whether Trump’s supporters favor exclusionary policies, I investigate how strongly these supporters feel about Islam, considering whether opposition to Islam is a critical part of their political worldview, or just one element of a broader nativism.