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Muslims concerned, experts cautious of Trump’s term

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The unlikely ascension of Donald Trump to the Oval Office has heightened concerns among many groups following his inflammatory language while on the campaign trail.

“The president-elect and the American people have moved beyond that,” David K. Rehr, Senior Associate Dean at George Mason University Law School, said of Trump’s controversial demand that the U.S. ban Muslims from entering the country.

“Often in campaigns,” he continued, “candidates would say and do things to get attention and focus on their campaigns,” he told Anadolu Agency.

“I think we have already seen during the ending days of the campaign that President-elect Trump has not really talked about that.”

Trump first made the controversial demand within days of a deadly terror attack in California that came in wake of a similar attack in Paris. He called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”

He later revised that position to a temporary suspension of “immigration from some of the most dangerous and volatile regions of the world.”

In addition to his Muslim ban, Trump also proposed building a wall along the U.S.’s southern border to prevent the illegal entry of immigrants and he pledged to set up a task force on deportation to expel an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants. In an interview broadcast Sunday, he said he is prepared to deport or jail as many as 3 million undocumented immigrants immediately after taking office next year.

The anxiety felt by many groups, including blacks Hispanics and Muslims, reached an apex late Tuesday night as it became clear Trump would beat Hillary Clinton for the White House.

Quite a number of residents, and not exclusively from groups that feel disenfranchised, took to social media with claims of moving overseas to avoid having to living under a government ruled by the billionaire real estate developer.

Anadolu Agency encountered fear and resistance from the Muslim community that was generally reluctant to talk about Trump and what the future may hold for it as a while but also on a personal level. Several cited potential backlash and even security concerns.

One Muslim American who attended prayers outside of a Washington DC mosque was succinct about his concerns. “I do not approve this guy [Trump], but I apologize, I will not be able to speak to you on the record.”

But campaign rhetoric is one thing. Getting proposals passed through Congress is another.

Rehr believes there “absolutely” would be constitutional challenges to Trump’s proposals and noted the role of Congress in major policy initiatives from the White House.

Presidents have the power to issue executive orders on an issue but Rehr said lawmakers can override those orders by passing a related bill. It should be noted, however, that the president does not have a specific constitutional code that prevents him from issuing an executive order that bans a specific group from entering the country based on national security concerns. In addition, negotiations in Washington are notoriously long.

All those forces working against each other leads Rehr to think it is unlikely for a Muslim ban to be enacted. “I will be shocked if he implement it,” he said.

Beyond the ban, Muslim Americans are also weary of the president-elect’s promise to reinstate the use of torture against terror suspects and their families. He also called for monitoring mosques, Muslim neighborhoods and the establishment of a “Commission on radical Islam” to monitor the Muslim community.

Imam Talib M. Shareef who heads the Masjid Muhammad mosque in Washington DC told Anadolu Agency he is concerned about the incoming administration because he has not seen any indication of backtracking on some of the controversial positions Trump took while campaigning.

The rhetoric not only brought Muslims together but it also helped communication and cooperation with other groups, including blacks and Hispanics, according to Shareef.

His mosque will soon send a letter to Trump to congratulate him on his victory but at the same time it will “encourage him to do what he had said about being the president of all Americans,” he said.

“If he is sincere about that,” Shareef said, “it is significant, because he never said anything close to that.”
While Trump made the promise to work for all Americans, his words have left many feeling unwanted in a diverse nation of about 330 million people.

Shareef said he understands the fears and concerns but hopes Muslims in government will give Trump a chance to become familiar with Muslim contributions to the U.S and urged his administration to engage with the Muslim community.

Secretary General Oussama Jammal of the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), told Anadolu Agency he shares the concerns of the Muslim community following the election results.

Jammal heads one of the largest coalition of national, regional, and local Muslim groups and said if Trump appoints to his Cabinet members of his campaign team who orchestrated the rhetoric of hate against Muslims, the trend of Islamophobia could continue in the country.

“It is our sincere hope that negative campaign rhetoric is left behind in the upcoming phase, and that President-Elect Trump advocates for the rights of the American people regardless of gender, race or religious affiliation,” Jammal said.

The leader of the Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslims civil rights organization in the U.S., echoed Jammal.

“There is the fear that hate and anti-Muslim propaganda becomes policy implemented by President Trump,” Nihad Awad told Anadolu Agency while noting that a number of Trump’s advisers are well-known for hatred against Muslims.

“Political targeting of the American Muslim community will be hallmark if those advisors continue to advise him,” he added.
Awad’s fears may started to become reality with the appointment of Steve Bannon, who was named Trump’s chief strategist on Sunday. CAIR promptly denounced the appointment of a man who it said headed an ultra conservative news website that “paint a dark and paranoid picture” of Muslims. Bannon also hosted a daily radio in which many guests “instigated fear and loathing of Muslims in America” and promoted “racist, anti-immigrant, and anti-Muslim content,” CAIR said in a statement.

Awad said Trump based his Muslim ban demand on a study by the Center for Security Policy — a think tank led by Fred Gaffney, who is well-known for espousing anti-Muslim propaganda.

Awad said that the organization is designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center — a nonprofit legal advocacy organization specializing in civil rights and the public interest.

The CAIR director believes some groups might find a platform to realize their “anti-Muslim bigotry” under a Trump administration.

“We will hold the new president to the highest standard in defending the rights of all those residing in our nation, as guaranteed by the Constitution,” Awad said as he called on Trump to distance his administration from hate groups.

In a monologue on Saturday Night Live, comic guest host Dave Chapelle said he is “wishing Donald Trump luck. And I’m going to give him a chance.” But he added, “And we, the historically disenfranchised, demand that he give us one, too.”

It was a sign that Trump faces an uphill climb as he sets to take the oath of office in January. Domestically, he will have to find a way to ease the fears of not only minority groups that are experiencing a lot of anxiety because of his win, but also the rest of a divided country, evinced by massive protests everyday since his victory.

Source – AA

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