by Nazir Tabbussam
When Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik killed 14 and injured many at a Christmas party going on in San Bernardino (California), President Barack Obama addressed the shooting from the Oval Office saying it is possible the massacre in San Bernardino was related to terrorism, but it’s also possible it was workplace-related.
As compared to this sober statement most appropriate to a statesman, the republican hopefull presidential candidate for the forthcoming US presidential elections, Mr Donald Trump has been quite reckless in his response. On December 7 he said: “Total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the US until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on … our country cannot be the victim of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life.”
This statement of a possibly would-be US president, without the least reservation, can be classed as extremely Islamophobic because it stereotypes all Muslims indiscriminately. Mr Trump did not feel the least need to identify the specific hate-mongering elements who incite to violence the American Muslim community and abroad. Trump’s negative remarks are indicative of the fact that quite often negative remarks have more impact than the positive ones. Thus, his statement received widespread and justified criticism. The US foreign Secretary John Kerry accused Trump of endangering the security of the US. In the UK, the reaction against Trump was strongest. A petition calling for Trump to be banned from entering the UK has reached 556,386 signatures at the time of writing this article.
In spite of all that, Trump is adamant to his abhorring statement and he says: “The proposal was probably not politically correct, but I don’t care.” This sort of attitude is called speaking from the heap of one’s wealth because he is a billionaire who made fortune from property and the entertainment business. Thus, his policy statement says: “Shariah authorises such atrocities as murder against non-believers who won’t convert, beheadings and more unthinkable acts that pose great harm to Americans, especially women. Without looking at the various polling data, it is obvious to anybody, the hatred is beyond comprehension. Where this hatred comes from and why, we will have to determine.”
Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley condemned Trump: he tweeted: @realdonaldtrump removes all doubt: he is running for president as a fascist demagogue.” Other politicians on both sides of the aisle did not spare any moment to get their condemnation recorded, including former US Vice President Dick Cheney. Trump’s Republican rival Lindsey Graham said: “Donald Trump today took xenophobia and religious bigotry to a new level. His comments are hurting the war effort and putting our diplomats and soldiers serving in the Middle East at risk. The way to win this war is to reach the vast majority of people in Islamic faith who reject Isil and provide them to resist this ideology…”
The Saudi prince Al-Waleed bin Talal attacked Trump and tweeted: “you are a disgrace not only to GOP (the Republican party) but to all America. Withdraw from the US presidential race as you will never win.” (The Guardian 12/12/15) Al-Waleed’s attacks gave a new impetus to Trump who retorted immediately in his tweet: “dopey prince… wants to control our US politicians with dad’s money.” (Jerusalem Post 13/12/15) It won’t be impertinent to quote here another such interesting episode of Prince Al-Waleed. After 9/11 Al-Waleed gave a cheque to the then New York Mayor Guiliani for the sum of 10 million dollars. Guiliani refused the money following Al-Waleed’s suggestions of “moral equivalence.” Al-Waleed had said that the “US must address some of the issues that led to such criminal attacks….” and furthermore, that the “US should re-examine its policies in the Middle East and adopt a more balanced stand toward the Palestinian cause.” (CNN 12/11/2001) Interestingly enough, the 19 Al-Qaeda affiliated Arabs who came to the US to launch 9/11 attacks, 15 of them were Saudi citizens. They were neither poor, nor deprived, nor the victims of American social injustices. In this perspective, the US relationship with the Saudi monarchy is worth studying when under US umbrella, they have created a new defence pact between 34 Muslim countries, including Pakistan. All these countries are Sunni by faith and Shia have very carefully been excluded from it. The Sunni nomenclature used in the West actually means Wahabism or Salafi faith and it does not include the Sunni Brailvi and Deobandi who are in great majority in South Asia. Pakistan’s Advisor for Foreign Affairs had to cut a sorry figure in the Senate when questioned about the legitimacy of joining this pact at the cost of ill-feelings of its Shiite population.
President Obama addressed the nation soon after the killings in California. He was most passionate while making an appeal to the Americans for tolerance in the aftermath of San Bernardino incident. He underscored most specifically by saying while Muslims have a responsibility to identify and reject extremism within their ranks, Americans cannot lose sight of the fact that the vast majority of Islam’s more than a billion followers are peaceful.