A host of recent issues have arisen between President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Theresa May. Amidst heightened tensions and fears of widespread protests Trump cancelled his trip this month to London to inaugurate a new U.S. Embassy.
In November May criticized President Trump for retweeting far-right propaganda against Muslims. His tweets had united British Parliamentarians in rebuking him. Labour M.P. Paul Flynn even called for President Trump’s arrest for inciting “racial hatred” if he sets foot in the U.K. Recent figures from the Mayor’s Office for Policing amd Crime already show that anti-Muslim hate crimes in London have increased 40%.
Since then President Trump said in an interview to Piers Morgan that he would apologize after causing worldwide outrage when he retweeted racist Islamophobic tweets from far right group Britain First. He stated that he simply, “...did not know who they were.”
The President of the United States should not be spreading right wing propaganda and false news. But this is not the first time he has done this. President Trump has made false accusations before that he saw thousands of Arabs in New Jersey celebrating the fall of the World Trade Center. This alarming fabricated claim juxtapositions Arabs as Un-American and disloyal citizens.
Yet when it comes to right wing extremism, President Trump refused to categorically label the fatal incident in Charlottesville an act of domestic terrorism. He defended some in the crowds of those chanting racist slogans as “fine people” and placed blame on “both sides.”
Twitter has taken a stand that it is not OK to ignore the hateful and violent conduct of far-right groups. A new Twitter policy seeking to “reduce hateful conduct and abusive behavior,” states that "...accounts that affiliate with organisations that use or promote violence against civilians to further their causes," will constitute a violation of Twitter policy. Last month, Twitter suspended the accounts of far right group leaders of Britain First who were responsible for the racist tweets.
There can be unfortunate consequences to spreading hatred and inciting violence. According to figures announced by London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan, attacks on Muslims have increased fivefold since the terror attack on the London Bridge. Anti-Muslim hate crimes are on the rise not only in the U.K. but also in the United States. According to Pew Research Center incidents of Anti-Muslim hate crimes in the United States have even exceeded the peak reached after the September 11 attacks in 2001.
In response to increased hate crimes, London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan called on Londoners, “...to pull together and send a clear message around the world that our city will never be divided by these hideous individuals who seek to harm us and destroy our way of life.”
How can fear of 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide be rational? A Pew Research Center Survey conducted in 2017 asked Americans to rate how they felt about Muslims from 0-100 (0 being coldest to 100 warmest). Republicans gave Muslims a much lower rating (39) and Democrats (56). Republicans were also more likely to answer in the negative that Islam is a part of American society and much more likely to say Islam encourages violence (63% as opposed to 26% of Democrats.)
That fear has been reflected in President Trump’s rhetoric and policies including the travel ban. Although President Trump’s executive order mentioned 9/11, the travel ban would not have prevented the 9/11 terrorrists from entering the United States. Instead the intial ban had included Iraq, an important ally of the United States in the war on terror. Trump also feared average Syrian refugee fleeing war to be a “trojan horse” that he believes in the future can cause a threat.
But according to a 2001 report by the U.S. Government’s National Counter-Terrorism Center (NCTC), “In cases where the religious affiliation of terrorism casualties could be determined...Muslims suffered between 82% and 97% of terrorism-related fatalities over the past five years.”
In his first interview as President with ABC news President Trump said that outside our borders “the people are angry” and the “world is a mess.” But are his policies making the world less of a mess?
Perhaps it is time to acknowledge that Muslims are not only on the front lines of the fight against terrorism but also too often the largest victims of it.