Trump is a boon for terrorism
2017-02-15 7:20:42 -
Mohammed Samaana

For a change, there is a president who is fulfilling the promises he made before his election. Indeed, the very promises that you would have thought should have costed him the election. Of course I’m talking about Donald Trump, who made all the wrong promises but won the race to The White House.

Since his inauguration, President Trump made a number of controversial decisions, including starting the process of repealing Barack Obama’s health-care plan, pulling the US out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, and proposing a wall between the US and Mexico. His most controversial decision, however, is to ban nationals of predominantly seven Muslim countries from entering America.

Personally, I do not feel comfortable with using the term Islamophobia; phobia means fear, and I think what we are witnessing is hatred of Muslims rather than fear. But I will continue to use this term for now as it has been used to describe bigotry, discrimination and violence directed at Muslims.

While Trump’s policies are extreme form of Islamophobia, the problem did not start with him. Former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright, who said she would register herself as a Muslim in solidarity, is the same person who, in 1996, when she was US ambassador to the UN under Bill Clinton, told the media that the death of half a million of Iraqi children due to UN sanctions was price worth paying for peace in the west.

Speaking from personal experience, I have been stopped and searched several times in airports and ferry ports travelling between Belfast and Scotland. On one occasion in 2005, I was held for a few hours for investigations under the Terrorism Act. That was during Blair years, though David Cameron was not any better, and his government even threatened Muslim women with mass deportation if their English did not improve.

Here in Northern Ireland we can’t forget Peter Robinson who, when he was First Minister in 2014, spoke in support of the hate evangelical preacher James McConnell. Robinson said that he could only trust Muslims to go to the shop for him. He was then forced to apologise after thousands took to the streets demanding his resignation.

In France, various local politicians have passed Taliban-style legislation to impose rules of dress upon Muslim women, which is just another way of conveying Trump’s brand of Islamophobic message.

Anti-Islam hysteria in the media, which singled out Muslims for negative publicity while turning a blind eye to violence committed by white Europeans, has helped to create a hostile atmosphere. No wonder why racist parties like France’s Front National are making greater strides, or why Swiss people voted to ban minarets from new mosques in 2009. Islamophobia is even worse in eastern Europe, where research conducted by the US-based Pew Center found attitudes in Hungary particularly troubling.

It is ironic that groups like Daesh and al-Qaeda are used to demonise all Muslims when they are largely the product of US and western foreign policy. President Trump has effectively appointed himself as a recruitment officer for these terror groups. The first military operation he sanctioned in Yemen, which caused the death of 10 Muslim women and six children, was the best gift the likes of Daesh could ask for. Surely it is insane to keep repeating the same thing and expect a different result.

Mohammed Samaana is a freelance writer based in Belfast.
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