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Muslims can preempt this by doubling down on assimilation

Reminder:

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on December 7, 2015: Remember the poll numbers. So, listen. Donald J Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on. (Applause). We have no choice. According to Pew Research, among others, there is great hatred towards Americans by large segments of the Muslim population. Most recently, a poll from the Center for Security Policy released data showing 25 percent of those polled agreed that violence against Americans — these are people that are here, by the way, people here, 25 — not 1 percent. By the way, one percent is unacceptable, 25 percent of those polled agreed that violence against Americans here in the United States is justified as part — think of that, as part of the global Jihad. (Crowd booing). They want to change your religion. I don’t think so. Not going to happen. As part of the global Jihad, and 51 percent of those polled agreed that Muslims in America should have the choice of being governed according to Sharia. You know what Sharia is. (Crowd booing). Fifty-one percent. Sharia authorizes and look, this is — I mean, it’s terrible. Sharia authorizes such atrocities as murder against nonbelievers who won’t convert. Beheadings and more unthinkable acts that pose great harm to Americans, especially women. I mean, you look, especially women.

Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) on March 26, 2016: Center For Security Policy — Founded in 1988 by former Reagan administration official Frank Gaffney, Jr, The Center for Security Policy (CSP) has gone from a respected hawkish think tank focused on foreign affairs to a conspiracy-oriented mouthpiece for the growing anti-Muslim movement in the United States. Extremist Group Info: SPLC Designated Hate Group.

BBC report titled “India Hindu group prays for Donald Trump win” dated May 12, 2016: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has gained some unlikely fans — including a right-wing Hindu group in India. Members of the Hindu Sena held a prayer in support of Mr Trump winning the US presidential election. The little-known group said they supported Mr Trump “because he is hope for humanity against Islamic terror”. Mr Trump has proposed a ban on Muslims entering the US — drawing widespread criticism at home and abroad. He has also advocated killing the families of terrorists.

President Trump addresses the ‘Namaste Trump’ event in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad on February 24, 2020, as the crowd chants “Modi Modi”: Everybody loves him, but I will tell you this: He’s very tough. (Laughs) (Applause)… Prime Minister Modi, you are not just the pride of Gujarat — you are living proof that with hard work and devotion, Indians can accomplish anything — (applause) — anything at all, anything they want. (Applause).

Deep background — Wikipedia (as archived on November 26, 2021) — Entry title — The Truth: Gujarat 2002: The Truth: Gujarat 2002 (also called Operation Kalank) was an investigative report on the 2002 Gujarat riots published by India’s Tehelka news magazine in its 7 November 2007 issue. The video footage was screened by the news channel Aaj Tak. The report, based on a six-month-long investigation and involving video sting operations, stated that the violence was made possible by the support of the state police and the then Chief Minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi for the perpetrators.

The Guardian headline on February 25, 2020: Delhi rocked by deadly protests during Donald Trump’s India visit.

The New Indian Express dated February 27: Hindu Sena members march in Gurugram, raise ‘goli maro‘ (shoot them) slogans (against Muslims, dissidents).

The Atlantic piece by Mira Kamdar titled “What Happened in Delhi Was a Pogrom” dated February 29, 2020: India’s ruling party will allow nothing to stand in the way of its Hindu-nationalist agenda.

Let’s turn a page.

The Guardian story titled “Anger at Netanyahu claim Palestinian grand mufti inspired Holocaust” dated October 21, 2015: In his speech, Netanyahu purported to describe a meeting between Haj Amin al-Husseini and Hitler in November 1941. “Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews. And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said: ‘If you expel them, they’ll all come here [to Palestine]’.” According to Netanyahu, Hitler then asked: “What should I do with them?” and the mufti replied: “Burn them.”… The comments in a speech to the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem… were condemned by historians and the Israeli opposition leader, Isaac Herzog, for trivialising the Holocaust.

Haaretz‘s piece by Robert Zaretsky titled “Eric Zemmour Isn’t France’s Donald Trump. He’s Far Worse” dated October 21, 2021: Take, for example, “grand replacement”. Coined by the extreme rightwing thinker Renaud Camus, the term distills the conspiracy theory that, with the connivance of a cosmopolitan and urban elite, the nation’s original population is being replaced with non-white peoples. Obsessed by this notion, Zemmour points to the case of Seine-Saint-Denis. This Parisian borough, “long the historical heart of France, where the tombs of our kings are located”, is becoming a “Muslim enclave subject to the rule of Allah”.

Narrator: Zemmour, by the way, himself a Sephardic Jew, also believes that the Nazi puppet Vichy government in France was lenient towards the French Jewry as ‘only’ 10 percent of them were sent to their certain death. This revisionist history in Netanyahu’s case, and his, seems meant to appease the western far-right that includes the swelling ranks of neo-Nazis and make Muslims a joint target. But it seldom works that way.

Commentary: Where did it all begin? 9/11? Huntington? Somewhere, somehow Muslims (even the most pacifist ones) became the bad guys. A threat at worst, an assimilation problem at best. 9/11 led to the invasion of Afghanistan and then Iraq. The Iraq invasion unhinged the region as we saw during the Arab Spring. This led to the emergence of ISIL. A civil war in Syria ensued displacing millions. Over 1.3 million sought refuge in Europe. As many of them reached Greece in 2015, right in the middle of its economic crisis, anti-immigrant sentiment reared its ugly head in Europe. This would lead to the far right’s rise in Europe and Trump’s triumph in the US. Only two western allies had firm far-right governments before this crisis: Modi in India and Netanyahu in Israel.

Trump was quick on the uptake and soon ended the war on ISIL with the claim of victory. The 2018 National Defense Strategy even stated, “Inter-state strategic competition, not terrorism, is now the primary concern in US national security.” But after he departed from the White House the US-backed Afghan government collapsed and the Belarus-Poland border refugee crisis emerged. It is starting again. Muslims around the world will feel the heat. It all starts with the Muslims and ends with the rise in antisemitism and the attack on the US Capitol. Muslims can preempt this by doubling down on assimilation and building robust bonds with other minorities like the Jewish community and also the democratic institutions. Meanwhile, people in Muslim countries need to think of coreligionists elsewhere and be more flexible. Identity politics is overrated, survival is of paramount importance.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 27th, 2021.

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