Opinion

Attempts to silence Muslims, Arabs and South Asians won’t work

A woman exits the closed international arrivals hall during protests of President Trump's travel ban outside Philadelphia International Airport in Philadelphia on Jan. 29, 2017. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Charles Mostoller

(RNS) We’re just a few weeks into the Trump administration, and already Muslims of all races, Arabs and South Asians in the United States and around the world are under siege.

While Trump’s anti-Muslim and anti-refugee executive order has been the focus of the news, in part because of its immediate impact on people’s lives, this is just one piece of the new government’s coordinated effort to silence these communities and erase the voices of people of color.

Using every tool available, the administration has launched a deliberate plan to push Muslims, Arabs and South Asians into the corners of society, assuming that no one will come to our defense.

They have already learned that they were wrong when it came to one executive order —it’s time that they learned that they were wrong on all fronts.

Days before the order commonly referred to as the Muslim ban was released, the administration released two other executive orders on immigration enforcement in an effort to create fear and silence Muslims, Arabs and South Asians as well as other communities of color.

A person is detained during a protest against President Trump's immigration policy and the recent Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids in New York City on Feb. 11, 2017. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Stephanie Keith *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-WAHEED-OPED, originally transmitted on Feb. 14, 2017.

A person is detained during a protest against President Trump’s immigration policy and the recent Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids in New York City on Feb. 11, 2017. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Stephanie Keith *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-WAHEED-OPED, originally transmitted on Feb. 14, 2017.

These orders roll back the Obama administration’s enforcement priorities, which focused largely on removing those with criminal convictions, and widen the enforcement net to include virtually all immigrants. The orders target individuals who have never been charged with a crime — any undocumented persons who overstayed visas and those who may have worked without permission.

The new administration is already terrorizing communities of color in at least six states, knocking on doors, stopping people in shopping centers and conducting roadway checkpoints. The orders also deputize state and local law enforcement to enforce immigration laws and reinstate a program called Secure Communities, while simultaneously threatening to defund “sanctuary cities” that do not follow these new terms.

These actions are further exacerbated by the three additional orders signed last week, which criminalize “illegal immigration” and ensure prosecution of minor immigration offenses. While all these orders claim to make America safe, they instead terrify immigrant communities and deter them from reporting crimes, in fact, making America less safe.

Like other communities of color, Muslims, Arabs and South Asians often do not trust or rely on law enforcement to protect them; each individual’s experience plays into that decision. A black Muslim will likely have different experiences and fears from a Sikh person when deciding whether to contact law enforcement. In the current climate, those fears are increasing.

At the same time, bullying, harassment and attacks on our communities are on the rise, especially since this new administration has failed to acknowledge such acts. Yet, these orders serve to ensure that our communities have less access to law enforcement and less protection from harm.

The administration simultaneously moves forward with its new version of “Countering Violent Extremism.” Reports indicate administration officials plan to rebrand this program “Countering Islamic Extremism” or “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism,” focusing exclusively on Muslim communities, rather than relying on fact-based threats or patterns.

Protesters outside the White House on Jan. 29, 2017, demonstrating against President Donald Trump's refugee ban. RNS Photo by Jerome Socolovsky

Protesters outside the White House on Jan. 29, 2017, demonstrating against President Trump’s refugee ban. RNS Photo by Jerome Socolovsky

Like the anti-Muslim immigration executive order, this rebranding stereotypes Muslims as suspect and dangerous. It signifies a lack of experience and sophistication regarding threat assessments or dangerous behavior, and instead allocates resources to police a huge swath of people based only on their religious affiliation.

To disregard other threats when the KKK is rising up and proponents of white supremacy are in the most powerful positions of our government is irresponsible at best.

Increasingly, perpetrators are targeting sacred spaces, such as mosques and temples, for vandalism and arson: the mass shooting in Charleston, S.C.; the tragedy at the Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wis. Attacks by those with ideologies linked to white supremacy or extremism have existed for decades, yet this program will deliberately exclude these threats and fail to protect society.

This revamped program will further isolate Muslims and deter them from freely practicing their faith or building relations within their communities. If history is any indication, it will result in government infiltrating mosques, student organizations, businesses and social networks to chill religious freedom, the tenet upon which our country was founded.

Finally, legislation and/or an executive order may designate the Muslim Brotherhood a foreign terrorist organization. Such a designation would likely weaken or dismantle Muslim, Arab and South Asian civil rights organizations and further empower Islamophobia.

The administration will undoubtedly come after leaders and organizations, labeling them as terrorists or terrorist organizations. The administration will claim that these individuals and organizations have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood without facts or evidence to back the allegations up. It’s been done before.

As we saw in the years after 9/11, there are a variety of ways this could be achieved, whether through congressional investigations, Department of Justice prosecutions or both. Those who financially support these organizations might be prosecuted for providing “material support” to a terrorist organization.

As a result, members, donors and foundations will fear that providing such support will implicate them or make them the subject of an investigation or criminal prosecution, thus slowing funding to these organizations, which cannot survive without these resources. And, just like that, Muslim, Arab and South Asian organizations and their leaders might disappear in one fell swoop.

There is one thing, however, that this new administration did not consider. It counted on the silence of communities; it counted on the ability to use fear under the guise of national security to shut out Muslims, Arabs and South Asians.

The administration did not consider that, for the first time in my lifetime, communities around the country would protest and chant in support of our communities. Lawyers would show up in court. Foundations and donors would look for more opportunities to ensure that the rights of Muslims, Arabs and South Asians are protected. The administration did not consider the collaboration of communities of all races, ethnicities, faiths, genders, gender identities and sexual orientations.

It did not know that we would not go gentle into that good night. That we — the whole nation — would rage, rage against the dying of the light.

(Manar Waheed was the deputy policy director for immigration for the White House Domestic Policy Council under the Obama administration)

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Manar Waheed

43 Comments

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  • There is a problem when you don’t rely on ‘real news’ sources. Cross verification of information on non-partisan media might have led you to find out that your apparent point misses the mark.

    “Christian militias in Central African Republic have carried out ethnic cleansing of the Muslim population during the country’s ongoing civil war, but there is no proof there was genocidal
    intent, a United Nations commission of inquiry has said. “Thousands of people died as a result of the conflict. Human rights violations and abuses were committed by all parties.”

  • Breitbart News and the Washington Post report that the Christian and Muslim militias have been butchering each other for nearly 4 years. It is also political in nature. You can’t trust any single source for the complete story. Verify.

  • Actually, this is a round 2 on the CAR with Ms. Luckins. That time I believe she used the Christian Post as her reference but when I googled a couple of key phrases/quotes in the artice, I actually got the UN news release and saw that the CP article had lopped off half of the statement released but quoted the other half verbatim, thus avoiding the UN faulting of both parties. Unfortunately for some, in recognizing that this is also political, the ‘Islamophobic narrative’ as to what is happening loses dominance.

  • “Using every tool available, the administration has launched a deliberate plan to push Muslims, Arabs and South Asians into the corners of society, assuming that no one will come to our defense.”
    These are vicious lies and propaganda meant to oppose President Trump’s moves to keep American safe! He is merely delaying the entry of would-be immigrants and refugees from seven war-torn Mideast countries where it is difficult to discern one’s terrorist background or intentions. The purpose of this delay is to put in place a better system for vetting them. It has nothing to do with racism or religious discrimination, but Hey–facts don’t matter to these propagandists!
    President Trump is not attempting to push these people into the corners of society–or worse yet, to keep them bottled up permanently in their own countries like the Europeans would favor. (See RNS article elsewhere, showing that 55% of Europeans favor banning ALL Muslims PERMANENTLY from entering their countries.) Given the amount of protest both in this country and abroad, it’s hard to see where anyone is trying to silence those being temporarily inconvenienced by President Trump’s 90 day hiatus. But don’t we all wish that someone could silence the roar of those lying propagandists!

  • Islamaphobia dominant? The fighting started with mainly Muslim Selekas overthrowing the government. The mainly Christian anti-Balaka force was starting in retaliation to the Selekas excesses. There have been atrocities on both sides.

  • Those who represent an ideology (Islam) that has as its goal the subversion of cur Constitution, the suppression of our free speech, liberty, and freedoms are the same ones who have sworn eternal warfare on us.

    President Trump and several members of his staff are aware of this Islamist threat and in reading my books about Islam are Islam-Aware, not Islamophobes. they know and understand the existential threat that Islam and Islamists post to our nation, to civilization.

  • Having lived in the CAR for a couple of years, I understand the plight of the Christians. I’ve also lived in Islamist societies for a decade and understand their determination to wipe out all Christians.

    Therefore, CAR Christians taking action, any and all action, to protect themselves from Islam’s ethnic cleansing and colonization is appropriate.

  • Islam preaches they are thee superior religion & must prevail upon all other religions existing on earth. None other should exist. This mention can be found in their religious text Hadith

  • The earlier LW accepts this fact the easier to control jihadis. Else bye-bye christianity hinduism Buddhism.

  • Like Christianity. Have you heard how Evangelicals refer to people of other faiths or sects?

    Its a pitfall of monotheism.

  • The fact that you can equate the entire faith of Islam and its 1.4 billion adherents to the ideology of extremists means that you have already given the terrorists the victory they sought. You have chosen to turn away the greatest asset against religious extremists. Moderates and patriots within the same faith.

    Muslim American informants have thwarted more terror plots and turned in more terrorists than any of the discriminatory anti-democratic nonsense coming out of right wing bigots these days.
    https://warisboring.com/american-muslims-turn-in-lots-of-terrorists-5be4561fded1#.y8g9io42f

    “In reading my books about Islam are Islam-Aware, not Islamophobes”

    Which means you know nothing of the faith as practiced by its adherents. The problem with your line of argument is this phony self inflated claim of knowledge of the beliefs and practices of an entire religion based on sources which are never considered objective or reliable. If it makes you feel better Neo-Nazis use the same exact tactic as yourself when describing Judaism. They refer to select passages of the Old Testament, Talmud and writings of extremists. Evangelicals do the same nonsense with the Book of Mormon. Seventh Day Adventists do the same with the Catholic Cathechism. You are in good company here. 😉

  • So what evidence did the Trump Administration use to justify its badly worded and arbitrarily implemented executive order travel ban on Muslims? None whatsoever.

    He is doing more than delaying entry of would be immigrants and refugees. He is indefinitely detaining actual immigrants, refugees, permanent residents, dual citizens and visa holders based entirely on their religion and country of origin. Harmful in its implementation, discriminatory in its intent, unjustifiable based on facts presented by the Administration.

    ” The purpose of this delay is to put in place a better system for vetting them.”

    Untrue. No regard was placed on how sufficient or insufficient the vetting has been done on any of these varied visa holders. Since many of them are permanent resident aliens, vetted for years, you can’t point out where they could have gone wrong here. You are making claims based on personal ignorance of the people involved and the immigration system which was already in force at the time.

    “it’s hard to see where anyone is trying to silence those being temporarily inconvenienced by President Trump’s 90 day hiatus”

    Because being detained and unable to contact family or the press isn’t silencing anyone. 🙂

  • Spuddle, you keep insisting that this is a ban on Muslims when myself and others have made it abundantly clear that it’s not. This is willful ignorance on your part that isn’t made any more transparent in the least by these long treatises you write to disguise this willful ignorance! You might as well go ahead and admit your intense hatred of President Trump and save us the trouble of reading this, since your biases and hatred of President Trump are plenty transparent!

  • “others have made it abundantly clear that it’s not.”

    No you haven’t. The order specifically only permits “religious minorities” from those 7 countries in. It is a Muslim ban since those countries are Muslim majority. You keep repeating a lie.

    What makes it worse is the incompetence of it all. From drafting to implementation. It is clear nobody with any kind of expertise be it legal or from immigration related sources were consulted on this or had any input in it. It was hastily drafted and ridiculously carried out. There could have been an actual legal and ironclad immigration restriction in there had Trump showed the slightest modicum of competence as a political leader.

    Even now he is undermining efforts by the White House Counsel to justify the order to the Courts through combative and childish Tweets. The Appeals Court considered the order to be half-baked and harmfully worded. Trump is making it easy to justify such beliefs.

    The excuses to justify this mess of an order show more forethought and intelligence than the actual order.

  • It looks like the main force in upholding the civil liberties of Americans is the utter incompetence of evil presidential advisors.

    https://lawfareblog.com/bannon-washington-report-incompetence-evil
    “By including green card-holders along with immigrants who held pre-existing visas and by implementing the ban immediately (thereby trapping travelers in airports), Bannon generated a ready-made group of highly sympathetic plaintiffs with standing to sue, along with a vocal and extremely visible protest movement. The government is now tied up in an extraordinary amount of litigation and the executive order itself has been halted under a nationwide freeze.

    Meanwhile, the administration’s lack of discipline in routinely referring to the executive order as a “Muslim ban” and attacking the competence and integrity of the federal courts has already begun to limit the willingness of the judiciary to grant the executive branch its usual deference in national security matters, to the point where the fate of a case that should have easily gone in the government’s favor is now seriously in doubt. All of this was entirely avoidable. It isn’t the way an effective white nationalist would make policy or undermine the
    courts or keep the nation pure of Muslims.”

    Trolling reflects a profound lack of sincerity, even a hostility to sincerity. It allows the speaker to make an offensive declaration and then insist that his or her (usually his) statement was just intended to make you mad—that you’re the real fool for taking this seriously. The
    speaker gets to say the thing and also gets to deny responsibility for it. The troll believes that people who care about things are chumps and that the only wise way to go through the world is with a level of ironicdetachment that borders on nihilism. Trolling isn’t just about being
    offensive. It’s about being gleefully offensive.

    The confluence of trolling with far-right politics makes for an interesting phenomenon. In the case of Breitbart, for example, we can see both a deep commitment to a political cause and ideology and a cheerfully nihilistic lack of sincerity when discussing that same cause. Breitbart’s writers believe that Trump’s executive order on immigration is wise and
    necessary, for example, but it also trumpets this belief because doing so enrages people who disagree.

    Bannon’s role as the ideological father of the EO strikes me as an instance of an internet troll coming up against legal and bureaucratic structures of process and accountability, and losing—because he didn’t understand the importance and power of those institutions in the first
    place.

  • Just inferring that for some folks, the violence and atrocities is seen as solely committed by Muslims and for religious edict reasons only.

  • The Left and the Right sure are stubborn. It is a partial or incomplete Muslim ban since only 7 countries are included. However, in those 7 countries, the wording is designed to exclude Muslim refugees since they have a Muslim majority. What it is is ineffective since it excludes countries that export more terrorism than the included ones.

  • “Those who represent an ideology (Islam) that has as its goal the subversion of cur Constitution, the suppression of our free speech, liberty, and freedom.”

    That also characterizes extreme Evangelicals and fundamentalists. They want to put God into our secular government, limit freedom of worship and have the right to discriminate against non-christians. They aren’t terrorists, of course, but neither are the overwhelming majority of Muslims. I don’t want Christians or Muslims trying to force theocracy on my country.

  • Correct. The president has a lot of leeway regarding immigration. If these morons had done more legal research they might have crafted a version that could have succeeded. These guys are making it up as they go along.

  • So did the ancient Jews and their (fictional) conquests are documented in the OT. Ditto with Christians. They were charged to spread their message to the entire world. All Abrahamic religions are arrogant as to their primacy and their belief that everyone else is going to hell. All of them, at one time or another, used the sword to achieve their aims.

  • It’s that half baked nature which is what annoyed the appeals court. Trump and Bannon dashed it off without consulting the in house experts on this sort of thing. Hence confusion and improvised implementation.

  • Islam is not a faith, it is a totalitarian system of life that focuses primarily on world domination, and very little on personal salvation.

    About 10% of the followers of the ideology, the cult of Mohammed are ready to go out and kill non-Moslems today. That 10% of 1.5 billion are 150 million. AND THEY ARE ACTIVELY FOLLOWING MOHAMMED’S ADMONITIONS today.

    Neo-Nazis are a fringe who are not out there killing anyone.

    Evangelicals talk and teach about Christian beliefs and salvation, and haven’t killed many Mormons lately.

    Seventh day Adventists are also focused on salvation, and spend a lot of their time saving, not taking lives.

    Screw your head back on and think.

  • Does ISIS send you checks or are you acting as their stooge for free?

    You are employing exactly the kind of rhetoric which aids them and hamstrings effective measures to fight them. You make it easier to justify keeping people under their thumb, you attack support of their victims and adversaries. ISIS couldn’t ask for a more useful collaborator than you.

    So your conclusion here is all Muslims must be eradicated or converted. Ridiculous nonsense. Extremism is useless against extremism. You have more in common with ISIS than you do any freedom loving sane person.

    More importantly you are employing the same nonsense tactics all sectarian bigots employ against entire faiths. At no point can an argument be taken seriously that ___ religion is inherently evil. That is what fanatics and genocidal minded people use as an argument.

  • I do not conclude that all Moslems must be eradicated. I find that Islamic fascism is intolerant, and violent, and has no place in a civilized society.

    Extreme measures definitely do work. We bombed Germany into oblivion, and the A-bomb’s application against Japan ended world war II.

    While Islamists are using all manner of extreme measures to eradicate non-Moslems from the Middle East (and intend to do so here, as well when the time is ripe), please give me your solution for ending that? Perhaps writing them a strongly worded letter using legal jargon will make them stop, eh?

  • Only the entire religion and all its adherents should be eradicated. Since you make no distinction between extremists and the entire faith. Your lack of such distinction is why you are so useful to Islamicist terrorism. You are simply repeating their dishonest mantras and attacking effective measures against them.

    “please give me your solution for ending that”

    Same one we do for all genocidal actions. Direct opposition to the actors. Something you are far too unfocused to consider. You would attack allies and enemies alike.

    You seek to do more harm to your own people than to terrorists. It’s also clear you don’t know a goddamned thing about Muslims here or how instrumental they are in combating extremism.

    You can tell your ISIS handlers you are doing your job well.

  • You failed to get the message. I am NOT discussing a faith. I am talking about an ideology that, like Nazism, Communism, Socialism, wants to dominate the world..

    I would go after enemies, not allies, something that you seem unable to differentiate between.

    I understand far, far more about Islam than you would ever be able to fathom. For starters, read the book EXPERIENCING ISLAM (and becoming Islam Aware).

  • I got you loud and clear. You are a bigoted nutcase who advocates a position helpful to terrorists. Someone too naive and self important to realize the absurdity of their actions.

    BTW it is in bad form to shill your book in an online discussion. Given what I have seen of your views, I have no desire to line your pockets and enable such nonsense.

  • Jews & christianity have evolved. Present day versus past is incorrect.
    Islam though has refused to evolve altogether, they believe writings in Hadith & Quran that justify & reward forced conversions & killings of all “kuffers/kafirs” as the command of their almighty Allah.
    Do we face same from other Abrahamic religions? My reply is a resounding NO !!

  • It’s actually viewing reality rather than falling for fake propaganda of Islam calling themselves as “religion of peace & love”.
    Adjectives matter little when Islam (written in quran&hadith) rewards it’s followers for forced conversions & killings of non-believers.

  • Notice how muslims keep quiet on atrocities of Islamic states but unite against every just/unjust muslim cause in a non-islamic nation.
    Rohingya issue presently is one such.
    For muslims it’s only about their religion’s unity & dominance.

  • And this differs from Christianity’s history in what respect? It doesn’t. Hindu and Buddhist examples of such behavior are also fairly memorable. When religion is entangled with the state or empire such things are inevitable.

    As for the all Muslims are evil front: Just the other day, my next door neighbor greeted me with a threat to convert or die as we walked to the elevator together.

    The halal meat and rice vendor outside my office threatened me to convert or he would raise my sodium levels with too much white sauce on my lunch.

    The hijab clad checkout women at my local Walmart tell each customer to convert or be killed before the first items are scanned.

    The condo association is now hearing a motion for muzzein calls to be made on a loudspeaker five times a day and to close down the liquor store in the complex.
    /sarcasm sweet sarcasm

  • Christianity had its horrors in its crusades. Aversion to blood & gore came from within. Christianity stopped it’s religious crusades thereafter.
    Can’t club all abrahamic religions with ISLAM which preaches violence through writings in its religious books – hadith/quran. Not aware which other religion accepts & promotes murder fear rape paedophilia as means to propagate.
    Let’s accept that love exists in Islam, but it’s reserved for the brotherhood. I find Islam not a religion but an ideology of violence.

  • Meaningless attack on christianity. Too much on the other side to support statement that they have evolved, unlike Islam which has only become become more rabid.

  • Not even close to accurate. It shows the kind of hypocritical thinking, historical ignorance and personal exceptionalism which goes into any given “___ religion is evil” argument.

    “they have evolved”?

    Hardly! They have been constrained. Held in check by secular government and culture. Proof positive is the virulently anti-democratic, sectarian rhetoric seen by fundamentalists here (of a Christian stripe) and those seen elsewhere representing the majority dominant religion (Hindu in India, Buddhist in Sri Lanka and Myanmar…. )

    Islam is as rabid as any other religion being used by autocrats. Its lazy bigoted nonsense to just chalk it up to the religion and ignore the political circumstances out there.

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