Trump To Extend Racist Travel Ban Targeting Muslim Countries

The Trump administration has certainly made its mark upon our society, fragmenting whatever was left of the illusion that we can all get along with those who believe differently. Now, the country is as divided as ever. One of Trump’s most controversial moves was implementing the initial ban on travel from several predominantly Muslim countries — except for the ones his organizations did business with, of course. 

It was a move that didn’t make much sense if the goal was keeping America safe. It’s not difficult for citizens of the targeted countries to bounce around until they make it to the states, if ever they were a danger at all. And while radicals — foreign-born and domestic — will always be a danger, they don’t belong to any one religion. America has more domestic terrorism than any other country in the world, and no one blames Christianity for it.

Trump now plans to take the ban to an entirely new group of people: African immigrants.

According to Politico, many of the countries on the list are in Africa. They suspect that Eritrea, Sudan, Tanzania, and even Nigeria may be on the list. Why is the ban necessary?

Acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf, said, “We’re establishing criteria that all foreign governments must satisfy to assist DHS in vetting foreign nationals seeking to enter our country … For a small number of countries that lack either the will or the capability to adhere to these criteria, travel restrictions may become necessary to mitigate threats.”

The argument shows little in the way of sensibility, but it’s what they went with the last time they instituted a travel ban and had to fight to have it upheld in the Supreme Court, so they might as well try the same one again.

From 1975 to 2016, it seems no one who was born in any of the proposed countries has ever killed an American as an act of terror. That’s why the Wall Street Journal reported there might be a different reason. Many travelers from some of the targeted countries have a disproportionately high incidence of overstaying their visas. So chalk it up to the fight against immigration, maybe.

Center for America Progress expert Tom Jawetz argued that if the laws were targeting immigrants, it wasn’t fair to those who worked within the confines of the system. Why punish everyone just to prevent the few who might overstay from entering the country? The Atlantic suggests that there might be still another reason: the 2020 elections require someone new, because we’ve already taken care of Latinos and Muslims.

Muslim Whistleblower for China’s Humanitarian Crisis

Documents relating to the mass detention of Muslims in China were recently released by a whistleblower who revealed herself as Asiye Abdulaheb. The 46-year-old woman wants the world to know not only what is happening in those facilities, but also what she went through to get the word out: she reportedly received numerous death threats in the days before those documents were revealed by the journalists she had contacted.

She said, “I thought that this thing has to be made public. The Chinese police would definitely find us. The people in Dubai had told my ex-husband, ‘We know all about your matters. We have a lot of people in the Netherlands.’”

The documents describe in detail how Chinese authorities successfully constructed those camps. More than that, they show how the Chinese justified them.

In the U.S., whistleblowers actually stand to make quite a lot of money in certain cases. A qui tam whistleblower lawsuit occurs whenever a whistleblower is rewarded for monies lost by the United States government due to fraudulent activity. “Qui tam” is part of a popular latin saying: “qui tam pro domino rege quam pro se ipso in hac parte sequitur.” The entire phrase means: “he who brings an action for the king as well as for himself.” Whoever named this particular measure was a clever girl. 

This kind of whistleblowing is thanks to the False Claims Act (FCA), which allows a whistleblower (always protected under federal law) to report fraudulent misdeeds made against the government through simple civil action in court. If the qui tam whistleblower wins the lawsuit, they can be awarded up to 30 percent of the monies recovered. Those who commit fraud against the United States government usually go big or go home, so this is a potentially lucrative opportunity for a whistleblower.

But what about when the illegal activity is conducted by the government? In Abdulaheb’s case, there’s not much she can do to protect herself. Even in the U.S., where we have strict whistleblower laws (which are now coming into scrutiny alongside the investigation into President Trump), those laws are sometimes put aside in favor of “national security.” In China, she has no protection at all.

Abdulaheb did not reveal how she leaked 24 pages of sensitive Chinese documents, or who else was involved. She knows the Chinese are after that information. But she used to work for the Chinese government in Xinjiang, a province notorious for its role in the crackdown of certain Muslim populations.

She said that Chinese officials attempted to recruit her husband in an effort to uncover information on the links in the whistleblowing chain.

 

Persecution Of Muslims Skyrocketing All Over The World

Historically, various religious groups have had a difficult time — especially as they warred with one another in struggles for land or recognition. These days, Muslims have fared poorly after events like 9/11 or the election of Donald J. Trump. But sometimes it’s important to look outside of just the United States and ask ourselves how groups of people are faring elsewhere in the world. Turns out, Muslims are having a rough time right now.

For example, the Los Angeles Times recently reported a story “For Muslims in India, ‘entire neighborhoods have gone empty in fear.’”

The worst examples show Muslim students pretending to be Hindu in order to escape Indian police — a tactic that rarely works. One student, Banka, was present at Jamia Millia Islamia, a university in New Delhi where at least 100 others were injured when police resorted to extreme violence. The question is why.

Banka himself incurred a fractured nose and bruised eye. “I was broken,” he said. “I was telling them, ‘I may die. Please leave me here.’”

A new law regarding Indian citizenship has provoked the widespread unrest because opponents of the law believe it unfairly targets Muslims. Human rights groups have organized protests against the law — and against police, who have been specifically targeting libraries and universities like the aforementioned.

At the head of these allegations is none other than Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi, who has attempted to crack down on large public gatherings and protests, and even gone so far as to block internet access to impede the efforts of protesters. Worse than that, the reduced resources mean that it’s more difficult for protesters to report unlawful acts committed by the police.

Muslim citizens account for 14 percent of the population in India — or 182 million people, more than half that of America’s 330 million citizens. That’s a pretty big segment of the population to discriminate against.

Banka had only been present at the library for an interview, but was caught in the chaos of a nearby skirmish between protesters and police, who raided the library instead. 

“They broke everything and started beating us inhumanely,” Banka said. “It was unexpected. I have never seen people entering like this inside the campus — inside the library — and beating students.”

He saw a fellow student lying prostrate on the ground of the bathroom. “I thought he was dead,” Banka said. “It was a helpless situation. I couldn’t help him because I was also bleeding.”

These crackdowns are ongoing and show no signs of slowing down. Which means they could get much worse before they get any better.

TIME Reports On China’s Detention Camps

There’s a lot of debate over whether the United States should really be wading into another country’s political business — especially as our own anger boils because of Russian involvement in our own 2016 elections (and the unfounded conspiracy theories of Ukranian involvement). But China’s sometimes extremely violent protesters have become associated with democracy in China, and so it’s almost inevitable that the voice of the United States is heard.

This makes the here and now perhaps the best time to open up a discussion on Muslim internment camps currently operating in China’s western province of Xinjiang — and how they might compare to the “detention” camps along our own southern border, used to hold migrants flooding into the United States for longer than we legally have any right to hold them (by law).

TIME revealed that it gained access to China Cables, “a cache of classified government papers published by the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) on Sunday.”

According to those cables, the Muslim “camps must adhere to a strict regiment of total physical and mental control, a gruelling diet of political indoctrination, vice-like security protocols, strict secrecy and ‘labor skills training’ for longer-serving inmates.”

In a direct parallel to someone whose name you know so well, China’s government called the leaked cables “fake news.”

The same government had initially hid those camps from the international community. When the tide of evidence became so overwhelming that China’s government no longer found the coverup politically tenable, they admitted to their existence, describing them as training centers instead. China says the camps are aimed at the fight against terrorism.

But that’s not what those detained say. Orynbek Koksebek, a 39-year-old Chinese citizen, says he was arrested in November 2017, shortly before he was sent to one of the internment camps. His stories are harrowing at best and terrifying at worst. Koksebek says it was all about indoctrination through propaganda. The officers forced him to learn Chinese, interrogated, and tortured him.

During one such interrogation, “he was thrown into a hole in the ground, doused with cold water and severely beaten.” Eventually, he tried to commit suicide unsuccessfully.

Other inmates tell similar stories of torture, rape, and more.

Koksebek told TIME, “Whenever we saw a bird or a dog outside, we felt jealous of their freedom. Our fate felt endless.”

Postdoctoral research specialist for the Xinjiang crisis Darren Byler at the Center for Asian Studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder said, “I’ve seen numerous police reports that indicate a person was detained because they were part of a Quran Study Group.”

This situation shouldn’t be ignored, because it provides valuable insight into the slippery slope that President Trump has our country tumbling down. First immigrants are detained. Who’s next?

The History of Anti Muslim in Texas

Texas is all over the map when it comes to the treatment of Muslims, whose faith in the practices of Islam has hardly been scratched by the constant onslaught of negativity — especially when devout Muslim and Pakistani immigrant Salman Bhojani was elected to the Euless City Council last year. Sometimes xenophobia doesn’t work out as planned. Sometimes it only makes our very mistakenly perceived enemies all the stronger.

So how did Texas get to this point? Here’s some recent history of anti-Muslim behavior in Texas (and examples of why there’s light at the end of the tunnel).

  • Ex-FBI agent John Guandolo wrote up and taught a program called “Understanding the Jihadi Threat to America.” The obviously anti-Muslim activist tried to make a sales pitch to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE), which subsequently shut down any chance for law enforcement to take part in the “training.”

    According to TCOLE director Kim Vickers: “I and my executive staff agree that not only was the material presented concerning in its overly broad characterization of an entire subset of the population, but it provided no training value for law enforcement attendees.”

    Separately, Vickers wrote that she nixed the course because it “paint[ed] an entire religion with an overly broad brush.”

  • Last year, a northern Texas council member, Tom Harrison, made a number of anti-Muslim posts on Facebook, asserting that President Trump should ban any Islamic education practices in the public school system.

    Subsequently, Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere and the rest of the council voted to publicly admonish Harrison for making the unwanted commentary. LaRosiliere said: “Mr. Harrison’s conduct is unbefitting a council member to serve our diverse community. I find this Facebook post abhorrent and believe this is a stain on our city and does not represent who we are.”

  • In 2017, a mosque in Victoria, Texas was burned to the ground by an arsonist who was later charged with a hate crime. Only two weeks earlier, Texas State Representative Kyle Bierdmann sent out a hate-charged poll to numerous Muslim organizations requesting information about their involvement with, or support for, the Muslim Brotherhood. Bierdmann said the survey would root out “radical Islamic terrorism in Texas.”

    Imam Yasir Fazaga of the Islamic Center of Brushy Creek said, “We feel betrayed and singled out and absolutely discriminated against — that’s not what we expect from our elected officials. The best way to overcome all this is to get to know one another. We will not be intimidated by this tactic.”

  • Earlier this year the Dallas/Fort Worth chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-DFW) requested that the Denton County Republican Party cancel one of John Guandolo’s extremist rallies and to ignore yet another of his “training” sessions, this one called “What is Islam & What Are Its Declared Objectives?”

This video highlights xenophobia, racism, and ethnic tensions present between home-grown militant groups and the Islamic faith. For mature viewers:

 

Here’s What Happens When You Tell A Religion’s Devout That They Have No Religion At All

President Trump embarked on a worldwide campaign for “religious freedom” early in his presidency, but that means different things to different people: especially if you’re talking to someone of the Islamic faith. It’s obvious that when Trump says “religious freedom” he’s applying it only to the religion that most of his followers are a part of — Christianity. Meanwhile some people are saying that Islam isn’t even a religion at all.

What does that mean? Why are they saying it?

At first it was primarily political. People like Pat Buchanan and Austin Rose, known for their ultra-conservative beliefs, wanted to distance themselves from Democrats and increase Republican chances of winning office during each cycle. It turns out slamming Islam just happened to help them meet that end.

What they’re doing is important because of what would happen should the United States government go down the path to eliminating Islam’s status as a religion. Not only would there be worldwide outrage, but Muslims would no longer be protected by religious freedom laws — you know, those funny pieces of legislation that were originally written to ensure you could pray to whichever god you like.

From there, it’s a slippery slope to eliminating the status of other religions or making it illegal for someone to practice a faith outside of “traditional” American lines of thinking.

Most of the explosive feelings that come about because of Islam are based on myths. One such myth says that Islam is a monolith. That means it’s more of a political or social structure than a religious one. That’s why we see so many bans on Sharia law around the country.

Lawyer Asma T. Uddin said, “The movement behind this uses a lot of the same language: that Sharia or Islamic religious law is actually just a political tool to take over the U.S. The way I see it is that this is just another way to say Islam is not a religion. In terms of the policy ramifications and legal ramifications, you see this happening in all the different states that are attempting to limit Muslim religious arbitration.”

That might sound complicated to some people who don’t really understand the daily struggles the average Muslim living in the United States will have to go through. No one should be very surprised that practicers of Islam are much less likely to win a religious freedom-related case in court than any other religious group in the country. But that’s the reality for most Muslims.

Republicans Might Be Covertly Squashing Political Involvement Of U.S. Muslims 

Ask United States Muslims how they feel about the country in which they live, and you will likely only receive one response: “I’m a patriot!” Even minority populations in the United States love our country: but many of them vote Democrat. Part of the reason is the difference between patriotism and nationalism. Another part of the reason is how they’re treated by their fellow citizens and the rights they enjoy — or the ones they do not.

But it turns out that another question they’re subtly asked nearly every day of their lives might actually have an unspoken effect. What question is that? It might sound familiar or it might not: “Which identity do you love more: your Islamic faith or your American citizenship?” It’s a question asked of Muslims all the time by Republicans, who are sometimes unable to understand that the two identities do not mutually exclude one another.

While that may be the case, the aforementioned effect the question has on the U.S. Muslim population is curious: it might reduce the amount of political involvement, engagement, and voter turnout of Muslim citizens. Why is that?

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out.

When Donald Trump was campaigning for the presidency in 2015, he said he “might” support a Muslilm registry for those living here. When he actually became president, he passed a new law preventing many Muslim travelers from entering the United States. He even activated plans to send out a newsletter of immigrant crimes committed against citizens — an action taken straight out of the Nazi Germany handbook for dictators. 

And then there are Trump’s activities today. He told four Democratic members of Congress — all of color — that they should “go back” home, even though three out of the four were born here, and all are American citizens. Two of the four are Muslims. 

Many have pointed out the underlying implication in Trump’s comments and actions is that Muslim Americans cannot be both Muslim and American at the same time. Is it true? Of course not. One identity has nothing to do with the other. Trump’s supporters seem to like the message, though. Since he began his campaign for the 2016 election, attacks against minorities have spiked. Our fearless leader’s messages are being heard — and they are literally resulting in the deaths of American citizens.

Is it so surprising that those citizens are less likely to present themselves as political instruments as a result of this constant onslaught? Probably not. And that might be exactly the point. If it’s not, then Republicans are doing an unbelievable job of achieving their goals inadvertently and through ignorance.

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Marvel Studios Casts Its First Ever Muslim Lead

While this is a great headline – a huge movie studio casts a Muslim actor as the star of a film, the fact that the actor is Muslim has nothing to do with anything at all. Mahershala Ali, an academy award-winning actor for his role in Moonlight was cast as the character Blade in the reboot of the franchise.

The character of Blade is not Muslim, so casting a Muslim actor is on the same level as casting a Jewish or Christian actor. Mahershala Ali was not casted because he was Muslim and Marvel is trying to fill some hole in their diversity line-up. He was cast because he is PHENOMENAL ACTOR! The fact that he is Muslim has nothing to do with his Academy Award win or other breakout performances. It is simply because he is a great actor.

Ali is however very proud of his Muslim identity, and often shared his experience of converting and the struggles of living not only as an African American in The United States but also living as a Muslim African-American. He has gone on the record that since the characters that he is playing are not Muslim that this is a true representation for the Muslim community – that they are just normal ordinary people. In the past, the superhero genre usually reserves Muslims to be the villain i.e Faran Tahir’s role in Iron Man or Aasif Mandvi’s appearance in Spider-Man 2.

This is not the first time that Ali has been playing a role in a Marvel property. He was featured on the Marvel & Netflix show Luke Cage in Season One playing the gangster of Harlem Cottonmouth. The fact that he was a Muslim didn’t play into his villainous nature like the other who came before him.

Please note: While Blade is a Marvel property – Blade will not be part of the MCU. 

Also, I don’t know why this is such a big deal considering the original Blade, Wesley Snipes, was also a Muslim.

Violence Against The Islamic Community In 2019: The Trump Effect

It’s no secret that attacks against members of many minority communities exploded during Trump’s 2016 campaign and have continued to rise ever since. Muslims, Hispanics, and transgender women are all among the most likely to be attacked, but why? It’s not just outright discrimination. Trump is willing to twist the words of the most respected members of the community to get what he wants.

When Representative Ilhan Omar made a speech in which she used the words “some people did something,” Trump retweeted a video that pasted the out of context soundbite alongside images of the 9/11 attacks. When the president of the United States uses a social media platform to take another person’s words out of context, it equates to an “incitement to violence,” which is exactly what former Texas Representative and Democratic candidate for the presidential nomination Beto O’ Rourke called it.

When a terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand left 49 people dead at two mosques, Trump unsurprisingly tweeted a Breitbart article. For those not in the know, Breitbart is a far-right website that uses words like “rapefugees” to express its readily apparent Islamophobia. If ever there was fake news, it’s Breitbart: they even manage to far surpass the level of deceit inherent in Fox News.

Of course, Trump has a long history of lying to the American public for no reason:

  • He told us that Barack Obama was Muslim.
  • When a supporter asked him how they would get rid of Muslims in the run-up to his 2016 election, he replied that they would “be looking at a lot of different things.”
  • In November 2015 he suggested that we should be spying on Mosques when he was a guest on “Morning Joe.”
  • He suggested he would implement a new database to keep track of Muslims who live in the country.
  • He said that “thousands and thousands” of Muslims celebrated the 9/11 attack from their homes in New Jersey.
  • In 2015 he outright suggested that all Muslims be banned from immigrating or entering the United States.
  • He said that “Islam hates us.”

The list goes on and one, but one thing is pretty clear: Trump is either a compulsive liar or a complete idiot with no real understanding of how the world really works, or what its people really want. Who would be surprised to find out that it might be a little bit of both? Is Trump someone we can really trust

According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, there has been an across-the-board 17 percent increase in recorded hate crimes and incidents involving racial bias from 2016 to 2017. The FBI confirmed those numbers. At this point the best way to address this enormous rise in hate-motivated crime is voting the highest bigot in all the land out of office. 

How The New Zealand Mosque Attack Affects Muslims Everywhere

This past Friday, a white supremacist killed 50 people and injured dozens more in a terrorist attack at a New Zealand mosque. The only shocking news about this story is that it happened in New Zealand and in the United States.

It is a sad state of affairs when Muslim children become desensitized to situations like this. Since September 11th, the current Muslim generation is used to the anti-Muslim rhetoric. For most, if not all of their lives, The United States has been involved in undeclared wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Elected officials have even gone on so far as to call wearing a hijab unpatriotic. Mass violence in the United States has almost become commonplace on top of the increase in hate crimes against Muslims and other minorities.

A recent survey from the Pew Research Center indicated that 66% of Muslim Americans felt that other Americans didn’t think they were considered American. Parents reported that bullying in school towards Muslim children has doubled in rate than bullying towards other religions. It is important to also know that most Muslim Americans are part of a younger demographic – between the ages of 18 to 29 – who have lived their entire life feeling demonized. Many of them also belong to other minority groups – blacks, queer or undocumented. All of which are threatened by white supremacists.

The only hope is that these young Muslims have developed a thick skin, but they shouldn’t have to. Just because they are Muslim does not mean they are any different than you and me, yet they live in a world that hates them just because of the religion that they choose to practice. Everyone should be allowed to be who they are without the fear of violence against them. Unfortunately, we live in a country that doesn’t believe in these ideals and rather harbor fear against things that are different than learn to accept something that’s new.