‘I’m very afraid. Will there be more wars?’ How the Muslim world reacted to Donald Trump’s election win

People in the Middle East watching the US election unfold report mixture of fear and apathy that whomever is commander-in-chief will contribute to more violence in the region 

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The Independent Online

The news that Donald Trump will be the 45th President of the United States was met with shock and concern by many Muslim Americans. 

His comments on how Syrian and Somali refugees disintegrate American communities and calls to ban Muslims in the wake of extremist attacks in Europe stoked populist fears throughout his election campaign - and did not go unnoticed by the international community either.

Mr Trump has flipflopped on several important foreign policy topics and currently holds positions which appear to contradict one another - such as repairing ties with Moscow, whose allies in Tehran would be very unhappy with any changes to President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal to lift sanctions, and removing support for Syrian rebels, which Saudi Arabia would object to. 

With a highly inexperienced commander-in-chief inheriting the several current wars and insurgencies of the Middle East fought by his predecessors, the mood across the wider Middle East is anxious.

While many politicians and pundits had predicted an unsatisfactory result for the Arab world no matter who took over from President Barack Obama in January, Mr Trump’s position as a wildcard has left many fearful of the future. 

“Even if he did only half of what he promised in foreign affairs, he could do a serious amount of damage in a short time,” Evan Laksmana at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Jakarta said. 


'I'm very afraid. Will there be more wars? Will America attack Muslim countries again?' Indonesian rights activist Alijah Diete asked. 

The sentiment was echoed by a senior Pakistani government official who spoke to Reuters on the condition of anonymity, who called the result was “absolutely atrocious and horrifying.”

“[Hillary Clinton] was talking about world peace - but Trump was talking about fighting against Muslims,” he added. 

The suggestion from Israel's Education Minister Naftali Bennett that Trump's victory was an opportunity for the Jewish state to declare "the era of a Palestinian state is over" were also met with anger and dismay from Muslims worldwide.  

Netanyahu congratulates Trump

“Americans have just screwed the world yet again,” said Syed Tashfin Chowdhury, a Bangladeshi with friends in the US. He said thousands in the country had watched in shock as the results rolled in, and Facebook lit up with horrified reactions.

Actors more positive about Mr Trump’s win included several al-Qaeda leaders, Hizbollah, and authoritarian Egyptian President Abdel Fatteh al-Sisi, who claimed to be the first foreign leader to call Mr Trump with his congratulations. 

The Damascus regime also stated on Thursday that President Bashar al-Assad would be “open” to working with Mr Trump if he follows through on a campaign promise to stop supporting Syrian rebels and shore up Mr Assad’s position to tackle extremism. 

In Syria, rebels in besieged east Aleppo watched live streams of election night on their phones, although the poor data signal meant news was patchy. Democrat Hillary Clinton, who advocates a no-fly-zone over the country, had been seen as a hopeful choice for their position in the civil war. 

Like many Americans dissatisfied with the 2016 election’s outcome - which saw Clinton win the popular vote - people in the Middle East have turned to dark jokes to cope with the prospect of a Trump administration.

One activist in east Aleppo joked that while George W Bush bought al Qaeda to the Middle East and Mr Obama bought Isis, Mr Trump will bring “aliens and zombies.” 

“Syria is now accepting American refugees,” one widely circulated meme read.