US Muslims angry at new wave of Islamophobia

US Muslims angry at new wave of Islamophobia
American Muslims reacted with anger to what many see as a growing wave of Islamophobia fuelled by the Republican Party’s most popular presidential candidates, Donald Trump and Ben Carson.
6 min read
04 October, 2015


As campaigning for the US presidential elections got underway, a number of Republican presidential candidates resorted to openly anti-Muslim remarks in order to secure the votes of right wing republican constituents.

Donald Trump, the Republican front-runner in the polls came under media scrutiny after not responding to an anti-Muslim rant by an attendee at one of his campaign rallies.

The individual in question 'accused' President Barak Obama of being 'a secret Muslim' and questioned Trump about when America can get rid of its 'Muslim problem.'

And another Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said Islam was 'antithetical' to the US Constitution, and he that he did not believe that a Muslim should be elected president.

Carson, who claims he is a devout Christian, says a president's faith should matter to voters if it runs counter to the values and principles of America.

Responding to a question during an interview broadcast Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," Carson described the Islamic faith as inconsistent with the Constitution. 

"I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation," Carson said. "I absolutely would not agree with that." 

He did not specify in what way Islam ran counter to constitutional principles. 

National polls show that Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, is now running second to businessman Donald Trump in the crowded Republican presidential field. He has been gaining support in Iowa, whose caucuses lead off the state-by-state nominating contests, by appealing to socially conservative evangelical voters.

On Friday, Ted Cruz said that if he becomes president, he will tear up the Iranian nuclear deal and "if the Ayatollah [Khamenei of Iran] doesn't understand that, we may have to help introduce him to the 72 virgins."  

Al-Araby al-Jadeed
spoke to a number of American Muslims to get their reactions to the Islamophobic remarks of Republican presidential hopefuls.  

Ayesha Jordan, schoolteacher

"I'm really sickened by all of it. I can't believe so many people think our president is Muslim. It's just shocking that so many people are coming out the woodwork and showing their true colors. All American Muslims need to be concerned about it.

"It's up to people here to try to set the record straight and be against IS [the Islamic State group] and really stand up for true Islamic beliefs."

Rashid Hudson, community worker

     Anyone who says the things that both of these republican clowns have said should be considered unfit

"First of all I think the Republican Party should be ashamed of itself for even allowing men like Donald Trump and Benjamin Carson to be candidate for the highest office in the land.

"I think Mr. Trump is an entertainer and I think Dr. Carson whether he realises it or not has allowed himself to be thrown into the category of an entertainer, maybe even a buffoon and a clown.

"It scares me when I hear men like this say things like that, and continue to show us all that this is where this country is headed.

"We live in a country that says that you have the freedom of religion. Anyone who says the things that both of these republican clowns have said should be considered unfit, with a mindset like that, to head the highest office in a country like this."

Cemaludin Bleich, musician

"I feel like [these statements are] threatening. I think there's a sense that the idealism that we believe in as Americans doesn't apply to the Muslim community, and I think that there's a good amount of the right wing, the republican base that believes that's true.

     I think there's a sense that the idealism that we believe in as Americans doesn't apply to the Muslim community

"You can see that in the recent event of the woman [Kim Davis] who refused to sign marriage certificates for gay people. The right wing will go and support that as part of their religious right, but they wont support the religious right of other religions.

"Clearly there's a double standard between Christianity and Islam in this country.

"I think the best way to combat that kind of ignorance and that kind of behaviour is to represent ourselves, because we live in a democracy. So in a democracy it's really important to understand that what we need to do is to participate in that democracy."

Chris Adams, university lecturer

"Donald Trump as we know is a performer and he does anything he can to gain attention. He's allowed bigoted comments at his speeches before.

"Ben Carson is a different story, because he's been pursuing this line of thinking with more reasoning. He's been talking about how Sharia is inconsistent with American values and the constitution, while actually what he's saying is contrary to the constitution.

"I personally feel a bit disappointed because Ben Carson is very intelligent and he's very knowledgeable in Christian scripture and knows that scripture can be taken out of context by a follower of any religion."

Sobia Sayeda, architect

     When somebody makes that statement, [we feel like] what are we chop liver?

"In my opinion, we can create this space, the country can take a direction where it is a melting pot and it is open to all religions or if people want to take the country into another direction then they probably need to rewrite the constitution.

"If a Muslim can't be president, what are you going to do next? Hindus can't be president? We have a lot of different religious backgrounds in our government right now and you can't really seclude them.

"Personally, [these remarks] feel like you're being bullied or you're being singled out. You don't feel that you actually belong to this country.

"Muslims contribute to the infrastructure of this country. There are so many Muslims in this country and we are hardworking citizens of this country, and when somebody makes that statement, [we feel like] what are we chop liver?"

Sophia Rose Arjana, assistant professor

"I find these remarks really upsetting. I am a white convert and I'm married to a brown immigrant and have two bi-racial children. All this discourse is hurtful and frightening.

"When you have a discourse that's violent and people are saying things like 'we'll eradicate people' or 'we'll do something about the Muslim problem', we all know from our history what happens in those situations. That's the same discourse that was used about Jews 50 or 60 years ago.

     There is enough Islamophobia and racism in America to make this kind of rhetoric acceptable.

"What's going to happen here? Are things going to get so bad that we'll have to immigrate somewhere? Maybe.

"The more we see this rhetoric, the more we see violence against Muslims or people perceived to be Muslim, such as the attack against the Sikh man a few weeks ago.

"It's hard to tell whether the rhetoric will be toned down as the campaign goes on or whether this election will be about vilifying immigrants and Muslims. This is really early in the election cycle and the rhetoric is pretty hateful at this point.

"What's concerning is that there is a certain tolerance about saying those kind of hateful things about certain groups in America, but those statements would not be permissible if they were about other groups.

"There is enough Islamophobia and racism in America to make this kind of rhetoric acceptable."