President Donald Trump has this week issued an executive order to ban the people from 7 Muslim countries from entering the USA. In doing so, he has further proven that he really does intend to pursue many of the strange promises he made during his campaign, no matter how ridiculous they seem to be. Seeing as though what started out as an irresponsible proposition has actually materialised, and developed into a dangerous reality, which purports to be in defence against extremism, below are just 5 reasons why I think Trump’s mindless policy is actually more likely to increase extremism, than defeat it.
1. Encourages a “them and us” mindset
To pivot an argument, belief or indeed policy on the notion of an ‘other’ enables antagonists to justify their actions. It provides a target and creates an enemy. Whilst the likes of Al-Qaeda, or ISIS use this tactic to place all non-Muslims between the crosshairs, it seems that Trump has done the very same thing to all Muslims. He’s reeling off policies directly from the terrorist textbook, and that’s worrying to the say the least. The ‘them and us’ mindset is exactly the kind of sentiment that drives people to view terrorism as being justified, because its victims are something different, alien or perhaps inferior.
2. Reinforces the notion of a conflict between Islam and the West
We constantly hear from terrorist propaganda videos, extremist speeches, and even far-right groups or hardline conservatives that Islam is incompatible with the West. Again, this buys into the idea of separatism and creates the impression of an isolationist West. It is the same concept that allows terrorists to draw some Muslims out of Western society and convince them that a good Muslim’s life is inherently at odds with an American, or European one. For years now, this false prophecy has been furiously combatted by mainstream Muslims and community leaders who have been making progress in highlighting Muslim integration and contribution in Western societies. Through his newfound position of power, the President of the USA seems to be “trumping” all the hard work of people within multi-faith communities, to offset this prejudice and Islamophobia.
3. Fits the separatist narrative of America being evil, immoral and irrational
The terrorist narrative often found in the Middle-East and North Africa, which ironically is where each of the countries in Trump’s ‘shutdown’ are located, is one underpinned by a condemnation of America and American governmental policy. We often poke fun at the caricatured concept of a terrorist on a camel, in a desert, yelling ‘death to America!’. Almost comically, the extremist ideology comprises a vehement belief that America is fundamentally evil and its government’s policies are irrational attempts to wipe Islam off the map. This, naturally, invites hostility and militant opposition, or terrorism, and while in the past it was relatively easy to pass off as near-lunacy, Trump’s latest policy has provided credence to the extremist narrative. What used to be accepted as fatuous conspiracy theory, has seemingly proven to be fact.
4. Emboldens far-right extremism
The state of Michigan’s police force reported that there was 65 times more hate crime committed in the weeks after Trump’s election. The openness of Trump’s racial prejudice and religious discrimination seemed to create a new wave of confidence amongst racist members of American society, who no longer had to remain ‘closet racists’ either. If this was the impact of just saying Islamophobic and xenophobic things, actually enacting Islamophobic policies and purposefully discriminating against Muslims makes for an ominous future. Already, a surge in aggression has been seen with attacks on mosques such as the Victoria Islamic Centre, Texas, which was burnt to the ground just hours after Trump’s Muslim ban. The next day, at least 6 people have been killed and 8 injured, after dozens were shot at in the Quebec Islamic Cultural Center.
5. Affirms the institutionalised disenfranchisement of Muslims
Such a policy is clear-cut, brazen evidence to American Muslims that their President feels they do not belong in the country in which they live. The “United States” government does not stand in unity with them. This could lead dangerously to terrible consequences, as people who now feel the need for a new “state” to claim as their own, may well become vulnerable to the cult-like Islamic state.
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