By Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor
Billionaire businessman calls on "all Arab leaders to consider placing Trump and anyone connected with his campaign or businesses on a blacklist"
Donald Trump is smashing red lines at the rate of knots yet his popularity with Republican voters is soaring. Most polls place him way ahead with 35 percent nationwide; 19 percent higher than his closest rival. The more vulgar and offensive he is, the more the voters love him.
He is successfully exploiting people’s fears of ‘the other’ with racism and bigotry his tools of trade, echoing the strategy of a certain Austrian painter who was democratically-elected as the president of Germany, with catastrophic results.
He walks on the dark side to tap into the concerns of his primarily non-college educated base, voters who feel they have been abandoned by the establishment. He uses the same language they use and they mistakenly believe this billionaire, who boasts about his riches and his luxurious properties, speaks for them. He will make America great again, they believe, even as he undercuts his country’s moral standing each time he opens his mouth.
The US media that initially wrote Mr Trump off as a buffoon, a one-minute wonder, has been proved wrong. Commentators who once ridiculed him are now perplexed; some very worried. Senior politicians in his own party see him as an embarrassment tarring not only Republicans but America itself with the same soiled brush, but few are speaking up.
Senator Lindsey Graham is a high-profile exception. In response to Trump’s call for all Muslims to be barred from entering the United States, he urged his party to tell him “to go to hell”. “He’s the ISIL man-of-the-year,” he said, “a race-baiting, xenophobic religious bigot” who “doesn’t represent the values that the men and women who wear the uniform are fighting for.” But Trump has the Republican Party in a headlock with a threat to run as an independent. Splitting the vote would be a gift to Hilary Clinton who is leading the Democratic field.
The voices of Republican presidential candidates may be muffled but what I find baffling, not to mention highly disturbing, is the silence from the Muslim and Arab leaderships. The world’s 1.7 billion Muslims are under attack by an individual aiming to be the ‘Leader of the Free World’. Muslim-Americans say they are fearful. Islamophobia is on the rise.
Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron has characterised Trump’s statement a “divisive, unhelpful and quite simply wrong”. France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls tweeted, “Mr. Trump, like others, fuels hatred: our only enemy is radical Islam”. Canada’s Foreign Minister Stephane Dion said, “It’s something we cannot accept in Canada… We have never been as far removed from what we’ve just heard in the United States”.
Britons have launched a petition to ban Trump from entering the UK which has garnered over half a million signatures requiring its demand to be debated in Parliament.
Arab leaders have responded with deafening silence. Arab business leaders working with the Trump brand, with few exceptions, are either covering their ears and eyes or have expressed their hope that Trump will reconsider. Well, that will certainly get this brash individual with his eye on the main goal shaking in his shoes!
Profits aside, how can anyone of good conscience continue to do business with this person or his companies when Trump the man and Trump the brand are one and the same? I will repeat what I told journalists over the past days, if he turned up at my office I would not let him in. How dare he bolster his bank account from business ventures in predominately Muslim countries when he is engaged in disparaging all Muslims as potential terrorists!
In any case, imagining that America can be kept safe by shutting out Muslim politicians, tourists, businessmen, investors etc. is not only wrong thinking, but who can blame Muslims for concluding ‘if you do not want us, then you do not deserve our money’.
Trump and his rah-rah backers may like to consider that Gulf States are heavily invested in the United States. For example, Qatar recently committed to invest $35 billion over the coming five years. And, according to data released by the National US-Arab Chamber of Commerce, the export of US goods to the 22 nations of the Arab world totalled $70 billion in 2013.
US trade with the most populated Muslim country, Indonesia, exceeded $27 billion last year; Pakistan accounts for 16 percent of all US trade; exports to countries such as Azerbaijan, Turkey and Muslim-dominated eastern European countries is worth billions annually.
Together with Ecuador, Venezuela and Gabon, Muslim-dominated countries – Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Algeria, Libya, Nigeria and Iran – owned $262 billion in US Treasury securities as of 2014.
Moreover, as revealed by Foreign Policy Magazine, during President Barrack Obama’s first five years in office, the US sold $64 billion worth of fighter aircraft, arms and military services to GCC states alone and since 2010, purchases have soared by 70 percent. Among America’s Arab customers are Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq. Sales to Pakistan since 2001 have exceeded $2 billion in addition to joint-funded purchases.
What is happening to us? We Muslims are the target. Our faith is under attack. Non-Muslims around the world are appalled and they are speaking out. But we are behaving like lambs to the slaughter – and I suspect that if Trump has his way, we would be slaughtered. Is there a fear that just in case he makes it to Pennsylvania Avenue, we must keep in his good books? If so, that is reprehensible. Once our dignity is up for grabs, once we become appeasers, we deserve whatever horror comes our way.
He has already threatened to close mosques, create a database for American Muslims, indicated his support for WW2 detention camps and the reintroduction of water-boarding. And now he wants all Muslim visitors barred from entering his country, while brushing off questions as to the logistics when most passports do not indicate the holder’s religion.
Will we be interrogated at US airports or, worse, tortured to confess our beliefs? Trump does not have the answer. In fact, he throws out ridiculous statements like confetti but declines to get into the nitty-gritty. He is like reporters who do not allow facts to get in the way of a good story.
Forgetting the moral/human rights arguments for a moment, Trump’s solution makes no sense at all. Here are the facts:
- Almost one-fifth of Daesh (ISIL) terrorists are nationals or legal residents of Western states.
- One of the San Bernardino shooters was American.
- The Fort Hood shooter was American.
- The Paris attackers were mostly French or Belgian nationals.
- The bombers who attacked London transport on July 7, 2005 were British.
- During the period 2001 – 2013 (the most recent CDC data), 406,496 Americans died from firearms on US soil, as opposed to 3,380 who died from terrorist attacks, a figure that includes the victims of 9-11.
I have received calls from some great friends of mine in the US asking why the governments of Muslim states are not banning Trump from our countries. I was unable to answer them.
In light of the danger this person represents, I would urge the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (IOC) to issue condemnatory statements forthwith and all Arab leaders to consider placing Trump and anyone connected with his campaign or businesses on a blacklist.
If we are not willing to defend our own interests, trusting that Trump will stumble before the end of the race, we may get a nasty surprise. To quote MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, who says Republican voters are unequivocally choosing Trump as their candidate, “It’s time to recognise this is really happening…Tick Tock!”
I backed Trump before he revealed his distasteful inner self because I believed America needs a businessman who knows how to reinvigorate the economy and create jobs. It is now my hope that if Ms Clinton wins, she appoints a vice-president drawn from the business world to complement her geopolitical and diplomatic expertise; someone who can make every American proud.
Well spoken Mr Habtoor, couldn't agree more, time for Muslim leaders to speak up against Trump.
Could not agree more with Mr. Habtoor. However, You Reap what You Sow.
Arab leaders have not sown much to shape the views of the American public. They been absent from the American media and mainstream - which shapes American opinion of Arabs and Muslims (which is at an all time low).
For example, Prince Al Waleed invests in American corporations to include being a share holder in Fox News (which is clearly Anti-Arab and Muslim) - yet the Prince does very little to shape American opinion or use his influence on Fox to shape a more positive view of Arabs and Muslims.
Most Americans don't know that the first country to recognize the US was Morocco and the longest standing Treaty the US has is with Morocco since 1786!
Similar to other ethnic groups (Irish, Italians and Jews) the Muslims need to sow the seeds and shape the perceptions of the American public by sponsoring positive messages. Otherwise hateful people like Trumps do it for us and define a negative narrative.
Well-said Mr. Al Habtoor and dont fret.. just because our governments are quiet does not mean we, as Muslims, accept what the biggot Trump says. As consumers, many of us are hell-bent on refusing to deal, purchase, support and recognise the trump brand.
I salute you for taking your stance and dont be discouraged, many of us are behind you and have stopped supporting the trump name and brand.
It's time for Muslim leaders to speak out LOUD AND CLEAR against terrorism.
We reap what we sow. Jihadism is not exclusively a Muslim problem it is a problem in the West as well
A simple Goggle search shows that Muslim leaders have been speaking loudly for decades against terrorism. Speaking out by itself does very little. More Muslims are fighting Jihadists than anyone else in Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen....
Part of the problem is the West's continuous meddling in the ME and S. Asia which helps to create these groups. During the Soviet - Afghan war we funded madrassas as a source of recruits for Jihad against the Soviets. Out of this came AQ and Taliban. Invading Iraq and then paying the Sunni's not to fight us and then further using them to over-throw Khadafy and now Assad - out of this came ISIS. Radicalism is a virus that all of us are equally responsible for. We need to deny Jihadists access to mosques, madrassas and media. We need to find better ideas and opportunities which counter the attraction to radicalism.
While understanding the outrage Trump is deliberately causing by his anti-muslim ranting, I believe that focussing attention on him is entirely the wring way to counter his squalid and divisive politics. Sneering at him merely draws more ignorant people to his support. Far better in my view to let his foot continue to fill his mouth, and concentrate funding and efforts in presenting a closed front against those who abuse the words of the Quran as an excuse for terror and power grabs.
Dear Mr. Khalaf, I understand and couldn't agree more with your views and stand against the words of the shameful Trump, but I must say that you have actually sent the wrong message and made Trump and his supporters happy. Your message should've been an attack on Trump because he violates the great American values of non-discriminatory practice against races and religions. In that way, you would have exposed him in front of his people, the American voters. Your words that suggest a call to pull investments from America and raise the unemployment sends the wrong message and will cause more and more Americans to rally behind this fool egocentric person. I hope you have the time or the will to republish your comments the right way.
How times change hey?