“The US has become a much more dangerous for Muslims than it was before”. These are the words of Middle East analyst Naeem Jeenah, in response to the global outrage against US president Donald Trump’s ban on Muslims. On Friday, Trump signed an executive order which bans Muslims from seven countries from entering the US. Despite a judicial order which temporarily blocked the Executive Order, dozens of travellers and immigrants were detained at US airports since Friday. The US has been rocked by a wave of protests at several airports in response to Trump’s decision.
The executive order imposes a 90-day entry ban on citizens of Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Iran, Libya and Yemen. Up to Monday morning, the ban included American residents who have green cards but are citizens of the seven Muslim majority countries on the list.
The Media Review Network said it was concerned that the Trump administration remains adamant to pursue its Islamophobic policies.
“We believe that Muslims, especially from the seven targeted countries will justifiably be outraged and angered,” said MRN executive member Iqbal Jassat.
“Refugees who are homeless and displaced as a direct result of America’s wars of aggression in their homelands such as Somalia, Syria, Iraq and Libya will feel aggrieved too. We thus believe that legitimate resistance to America’s military presence in the wider Muslim world will intensify.”
By contrast, other neighbouring Muslim countries are not on the list, such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Questions have been raised on whether Trump omitted these countries because of his company’s business interests with them.
“Many people are saying that these are allies of the United States, even though the perception is that all the 911 attackers came from Saudi Arabia. Others are saying that the 7 countries on the list as these are the ones Trump doesn’t do business with,” said Jeenah, the director of the Afro-Middle East Centre.
“The reality is that these countries are the ones that Barack Obama had on his list. He [Trump] simply took that same list and strengthened it. We might see new countries added but we need to remember that this list is a reinforcement of Obama’s list.”
Jeenah made reference to the Obama administration’s review of the vetting procedures applied to refugees in which he later identified four countries as areas of concern for terrorism. In seeking to justify and normalize the executive order, Trump has claimed his executive order is simply based on the steps taken five years earlier by the Obama administration.
While the majority of global leaders have condemned Trump’s decision, Jeenah suggested that a new kind of right-wing populism centering on white identity politics has given rise from Trump’s rhetoric.
“The repercussion is that right wingers around the world are being strengthened. A couple of weeks ago we saw this right wing conference that took place in Germany. Right wingers in Germany and France are gearing up to win the election because they believe there is a momentum behind Trump’s vision,” he said.
One of the other repercussions, said Jeenah, was that Trump’s policies will further perpetuate violence and extremism. On Sunday, a mosque in Quebec City in Canada was the target of gun attack, in which six people were killed and eight wounded during even prayers. The shooting came shortly after Prime Minsiter Justin Trudeau said Canada would welcome refugees, as a response to Trump’s immigration policies.
But Jeenah said since Trump’s inauguration, there is a “new kind of resistance” taking place.
“We know that tens of thousands of Americans spontaneously pitched up at airports in about 30 different cities protesting against the detention of people. Lawyers offered their services for free and senators came to assist some people. We
Jeenah debunked the theory that Trump’s ban would thwart the US’s image as a land for all people and destroy American civil liberties.
“America has not always been welcoming of immigrants. Under eight years of Barack Obama, a huge number of people were deported, not just immigrants but also visitors. America has not been welcoming to immigrants over the past few decades,” he asserted.
“People have been lulled into a sense of complacency and not seeing these realities. Trump doesn’t care about hiding it behind a smile and a good speech…so we shouldn’t fool ourselves that things are hugely different. What is different is that Americans are now starting to take notice of what their government is doing and we hope that this will make a difference.”
Jassat said Trump “seems to be in a race to crown himself as a bigot and defining his administration as a world leader of Xenophobia and Islamophobia”.
He called on South Africa, the African Union and the international community to urgently reassess its alliance with America’s discredited “War on Terror”.
“We also call on civil rights activists to take note of the assault on human rights by Trump’s total reliance on Israel’s failed policies,” said Jassat.
“That he has surrounded himself with a cabinet subscribing to “Israel First” will undoubtedly exacerbate America’s fraught relations with the Muslim world.” VOC