Donald Trump can’t seem to escape the headlines, with his most recent remarks calling on the United States to bar Muslims from entering the country. Whether it is Ben Carson who claimed that an American Muslim shouldn’t be president of the United States or Jeb Bush’s suggestion of only allowing Christian refugees from Syria, the current political climate espoused by GOP candidates is a poisonous one for America’s six to seven million strong Muslim minority. Forget the moral implications of providing a religious litmus test for potential refugees or immigrants; the fact of the matter is that this latest suggestion by Trump is simply unconstitutional.
This country was built on the foundations of religious tolerance and providing a place of refuge for persons escaping oppression. That is what makes this country unique and strengthens its societal fabric. Trump’s very discriminatory platform is un-American and aims to build on imaginary fears.
Trump claims that the recent San Bernardino shootings were the primary impetus for wanting to bar Muslims from entering the country. This year, there have been roughly over 350 mass shootings, only three of them being perpetrated by Muslims. Such a fraction doesn’t even count as a margin of error. The next boogeyman is the refugees. According to Migration Policy Institute, the U.S. has resettled about 750,000 refugees, and exactly three have been arrested for planning terrorist activities. You’re more likely to be fatally crushed by furniture than be killed by a terrorist. Trump is merely engaging in McCarthyite scare tactics to achieve whatever electoral advantage he can before the primaries.
Furthermore, Trump’s willingness to bar Muslims from entering the United States after the tragic shootings in San Bernardino is ludicrous. Has he forgotten one of the first eyewitnesses to talk to reporters and witness one of her colleagues get shot was Sally Abdelmageed, a Muslim? Rather than provide statements of unity, Trump is going after divisive politics.
When Dylann Roof, who was described as a regular church-goer, killed nine people in an African American church, including the pastor and a state senator, with an aim of instigating a race war, every rational American knew that Mr. Roof did not represent the White, Christian community. With that being said, why is Donald Trump throwing blanket statements on the American Muslim community because of two shooters who happen to be Muslim? There isn’t a single American Muslim organization that hasn’t come out and condemned this tragedy in the most strongest of terms.
Yes, Donald Trump is a bigot and there isn’t much we can do about that. And yes, Trump has a considerable following but there is something we can do here. The American Muslim community and by extension, other communities — from Baptists to Catholics to Jews to Hindus to the agnostic/atheist communities — need to do their part in curbing this rising Islamophobic sentiment.
Discriminatory attacks have skyrocketed over the past couple of months, and it is our job to ensure the cessation of such intolerant behavior. Also, as a member of the Muslim community in this country, we need to do more to dispel the series of misconceptions pushed forward by certain media outlets and presidential candidates. Aggies, there is a mosque on Northgate that is open to all, whatever your religious or political orientation. What better way to learn about Islam than to ask a Muslim.
Lastly, I have a message to the Republican Party. This party has always been attractive to many conservatives in the American Muslim community, particularly its stances on moral issues. It is counter-productive for a party aiming at being inclusive to give platform to hateful remarks like Trump’s. It alienates potential Muslim voters.
Our community has been in this country for hundreds of years and we won’t be going anywhere. We are a community made up of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon, Keith Ellison, Mehmet Oz, and many more other professionals, athletes, doctors, and academics. We will continue to build this country despite what Trump has to say.
Mahmoud Yamak is a masters petroleum engineering student