As a Muslim American, I’m witnessing state-sponsored Islamophobia – the basis of Trump’s travel ban is fake news

In America, you’re more likely to be killed in a mass shooting carried out by a white male than by a Muslim immigrant. Hell, in America you’re more likely to be killed by a toddler with a gun than a Muslim immigrant

Azmia Magane
in Florida
Wednesday 06 December 2017 13:27 GMT
Donald Trump’s travel ban has been approved by the Supreme Court
Donald Trump’s travel ban has been approved by the Supreme Court

On Monday 4 December, the United States Supreme Court ruled that Trump’s third version of the Muslim ban was fully enforceable.

The same day, in Jacksonville, Florida, a self-identified Christian was arrested for planning a mass shooting at a local Islamic centre. The suspect had previously shared a fake-news article about Muslims raping a woman on his Facebook page, which is also rife with photos of guns.

At the time of his arrest, he had 2,500 rounds of ammo and 12 guns.

The suspect faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and immigration consequences for his crime. Yes, immigration consequences, because he’s a Filipino green-card holder… yet there’s no travel ban in effect for the Philippines.

You’d think with Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric and his meltdowns about immigrants committing crimes that he’d be all over this case, because it serves his anti-immigrant agenda; to be tough on crime because there’s some “bad hombres” out there.

The truth of the matter is that you likely won’t hear Trump say a single solitary word about it because it doesn’t fit his narrative or agenda.

Muslims are not victims of hate crimes or terrorism in Trump’s twisted and fact-avoidant mind – they’re only the perpetrators. Which, factually, is wrong.

The biggest terror threat in the United States isn’t Muslims. It’s far-right extremists, the majority of whom happen to be white males that dabble in fake news, who are obsessed with guns and gun culture.

Not so fun fact: the US is home to 300 violent attacks inspired by far-right extremists each year.

Just a few short days prior to the Supreme Court upholding the ban, Trump retweeted anti-Muslim tweets posted by the far-right criminal hate-group Britain First’s deputy leader, who has a criminal conviction for a hate crime.

Britain First is a leading manufacturer of fake news – several of their videos have been debunked as being deliberately misleading or outright fake. Last year, one of their alleged supporters brutally murdered the Labour MP Jo Cox in what can only be described as a terror attack. Just yesterday, details emerged about a Britain First supporter who had driven a van into a curry house “to kill a Muslim.”

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The videos depicted various scenarios in which “evil Muslims” did “evil Muslim” things – one of them was so false that the Dutch government promptly spoke up and set the record straight, saying that the “Muslim migrant” perpetrator actually wasn’t a migrant. Nor was he Muslim, as Dutch police confirmed.

The Netherlands Embassy corrected Trump on Twitter, stating “Facts do matter. The perpetrator of the violent act in this video was born and raised in the Netherlands. He received and completed his sentence under Dutch law.”

Once Trump was called out for spreading the fake news that he claims to hate so much, the White House responded that it didn’t matter if the videos weren’t real, because “the threat is real”.

But back to the travel ban. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has praised the verdict as a “substantial victory for the safety and security of the American people”.

Unfortunately, Sessions’ ideas about what keeps America “safe and secure” are factually and fundamentally flawed – even experts on terrorism agree that the research, data, and statistics don’t support the White House’s claims.

As Muslim lawyer Qasim Rashid pointed out on Twitter:

In America, you’re more likely to be killed in a mass shooting carried out by a white male than by a Muslim immigrant. Hell, in America, you’re more likely to be killed by a toddler with a gun than a Muslim immigrant.

Newsflash: the White House’s justification for the travel ban is FAKE NEWS.

Meanwhile, the consequences of anti-Muslim fake news and the White House’s state-sponsored Islamophobia are very real: since Trump took office, anti-Muslim hate crimes have increased astronomically.

The safety and security of Muslim Americans is being threatened by far-right extremists, but because Trump has normalised and emboldened AmeriKKKa’s Nazis, Attorney General Sessions has the audacity to suggest that we’ve achieved a “substantial victory for the safety and security of the American people”.

Pray tell: the safety and security of what people?

It becomes abundantly clear that Muslims aren’t being counted as Americans, and white Christian men will never be counted as terrorists.

Instead, a six-year-old Muslim child with special needs is targeted and reported as a terrorist, by a teacher – the very adult entrusted in educating him and providing a safe learning environment.

I had a run-in with anti-Muslim fake news this week myself. A Twitter user tweeted a video that he purported to be “Moslems in London, England protest to demand Sharia law across the UK”. In actuality, the video was of Shia Muslims protesting terrorism and marching against Isis on the day of Ashura.

Had any of the man’s rabidly Islamophobic followers bothered to watch the video before they blindly shared, they’d have seen signs, in plain English, that said:

  • “No to terrorism, no to injustice, no to racism”
  • “We stand united against terrorism”
  • “A person is either your brother in faith or equal in humanity”
  • “Terrorism has no religion”
  • “Not in my name”
  • “Hussain stood against the terrorism of his time”
  • “Isis is not Islamic nor a state”

Confirmation bias prompted many to share the video, without even bothering to watch it, because the alleged description fit the ideas about the insidious “evil Muslims” with our “creeping sharia” that was already in their heads.

I spent several minutes that afternoon taking screen shots of the video, circling the signs and typing out what they said. Yet people were still so hellbent on blindly hating Muslims that even then I had people in my Twitter mentions rambling about “evil Muslims” doing “evil Muslim” stuff.

This behaviour is only emboldened further by the state-sanctioned hatred of Muslims. It has to stop – immediately. Facts matter and we cannot continue to accept a government which demonstrably and wholeheartedly believes otherwise.

Beyond endangering the safety of the American Muslim community by systematically dehumanising Muslims and normalising anti-Muslim hate – and setting a precedent of upholding falsehoods over facts – the Muslim ban is tearing apart families, even if the family hails from a Muslim-majority country that’s not on the current ban-list.

Yazen Abdin, an immigration attorney with NeJame Law in Orlando, Florida, said in a statement: “Although the most recent travel-ban is narrower than its predecessors (it does not apply to those already in the US and it makes an exception for those with bona fide ties to the US), it still discriminates against Muslim majority countries. Many of our clients have been affected, including Syrians, Iraqis, and Iranians.”

He continued: “Cases are being arbitrarily delayed and individuals from countries not included in the ban are deterred from applying for visas and other benefits because their country can be added to the list at any time.”

The biggest threat to America isn’t “Islamic terrorism”, but rather the dangerous direction the country is heading – a direction in which your identity as an American is assigned or discarded because of your faith; in which you can be legislated against because of your country of origin or your religion.

I recall learning about another modern-day regime in which there was a state-sanctioned hatred of a religious group, and members of said religious group were turned away from seeking refuge in the United States because then-president Franklin D Roosevelt was concerned they could pose a “threat to national security”.

We later realised we were on the wrong side of history and that was bad, but apparently we didn’t learn. History will continue to repeat itself until we do learn.

Fast-forward to today, where the current President is actively creating a safe space for Nazis and white supremacists to flourish, while endorsing a domestic terrorist group on Twitter, but banning people from Muslim-majority countries “because terror”.

“Donald Trump has proudly worn an anti-Muslim badge since day one, and continues to pursue his white-supremacist agenda at every opportunity,” said Murad Awawdeh, vice-president of advocacy at the New York Immigration Coalition.

He continued: “It is entirely un-American and unlawful to use the pretext of national security to discriminate against people based on race or religion. Nearly a year after we rallied at JFK airport and at Battery Park in response to the first attempted Muslim-ban, we will continue to fight against Trump’s plan to turn bigotry into policy, while standing strong for human dignity.”

We must never allow falsehoods to outperform facts.

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