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 Editor in chief: 
Abdus Sattar Ghazali

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March 11, 2016

Donald Trump’s rhetoric horrifies American Muslims

By Abdus Sattar Ghazali

Seven-million strong American Muslim community is alarmed at the mounting anti-Islam and anti-Muslim rhetoric by Republican Presidential hopefuls, particularly leading GOP candidate Donald Trump. An unprecedented wave of Islamophobia is now sweeping the United States as the Republican Party has become the epicenter of Islamophobia this election season.

In recent months, GOP presidential candidates vying for the nomination have repeatedly used anti-Muslim and anti-Islam rhetoric to seek support of their voters. Senator Marco Rubio has advocated for shutting down mosques while Ben Carson insists that a practicing Muslim should not be president. Frontrunner Donald Trump, who in December 2015 proposed a ban on all Muslim immigration into the United States, declared Wednesday that “Islam hates America.” 

In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper Trump claimed that the war was against radical Islam, but said, "it's very hard to define. It's very hard to separate.

On Thursday, asked during the Republican debate if he meant that all 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide hate the United States, Trump replied, "I mean a lot of them. I mean a lot of them. There's tremendous hatred, and I will stick with exactly what I said."

Not surprisingly, Donald Trump lauds historic myth about shooting Muslims with pig's blood-dipped bullets.  On February 19, 2016, while addressing a rally in North Charleston, South Carolina, Trump lauded U.S. General John Pershing who supposedly executed dozens of Muslims held prisoner in the Philippines with pig’s blood-dipped bullet. According to the New York Daily News, Trump said “He took 50 bullets and he dipped them in pig’s blood. And he had his men load his rifles and he lined up the 50 people, and they shot 49 of those people. And the 50th person, he said, ‘You go back to your people and you tell them what happened.’ And for 25 years there wasn’t a problem.” The New York Daily News pointed out that the yarn that Trump rehashed on the eve of the South Carolina primary stems from a hoax spread via email, according to rumor tracker There’s no evidence it occurred. But the blowhard billionaire seemed to find fresh inspiration in the story.

Trump rhetoric boon for white supremacists

According to experts at the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center who monitor hate groups and anti-Muslim sentiment, Trump’s call to halt the entrance of Muslims to the United States is driving online chatter among white supremacists and is likely to inspire violence against Muslims.

“When well-known public figures make these kind of statements in the public square, they are taken as a permission-giving by criminal elements who go out and act on their words.” said Mark Potok of the SPLC.

Marilyn Mayo, co-director of the ADL’s Center on Extremism, said: “Since the beginning of Donald Trump’s candidacy, we’ve definitely seen that a segment of the white supremacist movement, from racist intellectuals to neo-Nazis have been energized.”

The Ku Klux Klan is using Donald Trump as a talking point in its outreach efforts. Stormfront, the most prominent American white supremacist website, is upgrading its servers in part to cope with a Trump traffic spike.

Majority of Republicans approve Donald Trump’s Anti-Muslim rhetoric

Alarmingly, Republicans are mostly okay with Donald Trump’s anti-Islam and anti-Muslim rhetoric. According to Huffington Post, throughout this primary campaign, polls have shown over and over that many Republicans agree with Trump’s extremist rhetoric.

Many of the exit polls in states that have already held primaries have asked Republicans whether they support a temporary ban on Muslims entering the U.S. These voters overwhelmingly support the ban -- over two-thirds of Republican voters in most states are in favor of temporarily banning Muslims, as are over three-quarters of voters in many deep South states.

A Pew Research poll from December shows large-scale agreement among Republicans that Islam is dangerous in general. In that poll, 68 percent of Republicans agreed that Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence among its believers, compared to only 45 percent of independents and 30 percent of Democrats. Sixty-five percent of Republicans said they are very concerned about the rise of Islamic extremism in the U.S., while 49 percent of independents and 38 percent of Democrats said the same.

Perhaps the most advantageous statistic for Trump in the Pew poll is that nearly half of Republicans think Muslims should be subjected to more scrutiny than members of other faiths. That’s even higher among conservative Republicans -- 57 percent of that group says Muslims should face religion-based scrutiny. Only 31 percent of independents and 20 percent of Democrats agree.

Donald Trump’s bigotry inspires U.S. Muslim voters

With Trump leading the Republican race, American Muslim groups  have launched voter registration drives in a push to ensure that the Islamophobic rhetoric of the election campaign is rejected at the polls.

“Anti-Muslim rhetoric is motivating Muslim Americans across the country to engage in the political process like never before,” Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, told Religious News Service. “This is true in Minnesota, as well as in swing states like Virginia and Florida where Muslim Americans will play a critical role on Election Day.”

According to data from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, almost three-quarters of Muslim voters plan to vote in state primaries this year. About a quarter of Muslim voters CAIR surveyed on Super Tuesday named  Islamophobia their top concern going into the primaries.

Washington Post reports “Donald Trump’s bigotry has inspired U.S. Muslim voters like no candidate before.” The paper wrote on February 25: “This round of Islamophobia has been fueled by Donald Trump’s incendiary rhetoric calling for a “total” ban on Muslims entering the United States — hate speech that has helped make him the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination. But it has also been bolstered by leaders who have remained silent.”

Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Chief Editor of the Journal of America ( email: asghazali2011 (@)