The inauguration speech of El Prez Numero 45 only worsened my delicate Muslim sensibilities. In the speech (a speech traditionally used to promote unity nationally and internationally) he mentioned he would wipe “radical Islamic terrorism” off the face of the earth:
We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones and unite the civilised world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the earth. At the bed rock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America and through our loyalty to our country we will rediscover our loyalty to each other. When you open your heart to patriotism there is no room for prejudice. The Bible tells us how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity. We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity. When America is United, America is totally unstoppable. There should be no fear. We are protected and we will always be protected. We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement. And most importantly we will be protected by God. – Donald Trump, 20 Jan 2017, from his inauguration speech
So many questions arise from this small soundbite alone. Are Muslims part of “God’s people”? Are only Christians “protected by God”? Do new alliances to be formed include a northern-hemisphere-right-wing-Christian alliance, stretching from Trump in America to Putin in Russia, and in the middle you have right wing governments all across Europe? Do old alliances refer to a strengthening of relationships with Israel?
In true Trump style he arrogantly said the ‘what’ but left out the ‘how’, a contradiction pointed out by journalist Paul Green:
Trump’s linguistic presentation is a strange series of soundbites that he believes to be poetry, philosophy and unprejudiced patriotism. He delivers heady promises, rather than practical solutions. A prime example is the way his great notion of “eradicating Islamist terrorism” was uttered in almost the same breath as a remark withdrawing America from its role as policeman of the world, secure inside its own borders. How can he square this circle? – Paul Breen
A bad day for Muslims, I’d call it. The only mention they got in the inaugural tweet was pure Hollywood, and very dangerous. “Radical Islamic terrorism we will eradicate completely from the face of the earth”. Shorn of its Biblical reference – the face of the earth comes from Genesis, does it not? – it was the biggest threat Trump could offer his people. Quite apart from the fact that he can’t eradicate terrorism without looking at why it flourishes (something Donald Trump showed he had no interest in, for this was the most nationalist, selfish inaugural in US history), his 20-minute commercial for Trumpism is likely to be the finest rallying cry the cultists of Isis have received since they started chopping off heads, blowing up monuments and destroying the beliefs of their co-religionists. – Robert Fisk
The anti-Islam vibe was strongly prevalent throughout the inauguration (as it has also been throughout the Trump campaign). This vibe was extenuated by the Reverend Franklin Graham, who was invited to read some parts of scripture on inauguration day. Graham, who supports a president who thinks “Islam hates us,” is an evangelical pastor who thinks Islam is “evil.”
A month after the 9/11 terror attacks, Graham, speaking at the dedication of a new chapel, told the audience that Islam “is a very evil and wicked religion.” Pressed to clarify his comments by NBC, Graham said, “It wasn’t Methodists flying into those buildings, it wasn’t Lutherans. It was an attack on this country by people of the Islamic faith.” In 2014, when asked by Christian Today if his views on Islam had changed since those 2001 remarks, Graham said “I have not changed my opinion at all.” Well, good for you!
Whilst things are confusing and fearful for Muslims over in the States, here in the UK us British Muslims are not faring much better. It is indeed an interesting time to be a Muslim in Britain because on the one hand we have the recent Casey review saying we Muslims do not integrate enough. On the other hand we have American author Janie Johnson saying “London is gone – all Islamic.” And there I was just getting over the fact that Birmingham recently became a no go area for non-Muslims.
With all this going on I thought it would be a good idea to say a few positive things about Islam, something that I have tried to do before. As best as one can, enjoy!
It is hard to be entirely despondent when we live in a country where the Muslim community is integrated enough to produce the mayor of our capital city, the most successful British track athlete in modern Olympic games history, and my favourite winner of the Great British Bake Off. Maybe we should stop looking for enemies within and instead Britains of all kinds could unite against a common enemy. Maybe someone across the pond? We might then discover the future is both bright and orange. – Lucy Porter, on the BBC Radio 4 program The Now Show, Dec 2016 (referring to: mayor = Sadiq Khan, athlete = Mohammed Farah, winner = Nadiya Hussain, common enemy = Trump, pond = Atlantic ocean)
I want to ask you a tougher question. It’s a deeper question about our relationship now to the Muslim community in the United States. Right now the Muslim community is awesome! If a Muslim family moved next door to me I would be the happiest person in the world, because the chance of my kids getting in trouble just went way down, just went way down! Because they have high educational attainment…they are…they’re your people. They have faith, they have family, they’re hard-working. This is the model American community. And yet isn’t there a danger…that this level of miscommunication, this level of misunderstanding, could drive a model community to the margins and actually create the very thing you’re afraid of, which is extremism? Are you worried about that? – Van Jones, on his CNN show The Messy Truth, speaking to Senator Rick Santorum, Dec 2016
We’re not the enemy. We live next to you. We operate on you. We cook for you. We drive you. We teach you. And everything in between. We even entertain you onstage…We are just people who want normal things from life. We are people who fall short and we are people who try our best, just like everyone else. – from the controversial BBC documentary Muslims Like Us, Dec 2016
I will end with this really positive clip from the show Full Frontal with Samantha Bee: