ISLAMABAD/CAIRO/JAKARTA: Muslims all over the world on Tuesday denounced Donald Trump’s call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States, dismissing the US Republican presidential front-runner as a bigot who promoted violence.
Trump’s statement on “preventing Muslim immigration” drew swift and fierce criticism from many directions at home, including from the White House and rivals for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.
Trump, responding to last week’s California shooting spree by two Muslims who the Federal Bureau of Investigation said had been radicalized, called for a complete block on Muslims entering the United States “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”
“It’s so absurd a statement that I don’t even wish to react to it,” said Asma Jahangir, one of Pakistan’s most prominent human rights lawyers.
“This is the worst kind of bigotry mixed with ignorance. I would imagine that someone who is hoping to become president of the US doesn’t want to compete with an ignorant criminal-minded mullah of Pakistan who denounces people of other religions … Although we are not as advanced as the US, we have never elected such people to power in Pakistan.”
Egypt’s Dar Al-Iftaa warned that Trump’s “extremist and racist” call could fuel hate and tensions in American societ.
“It is unfair to sanction all Muslims because of a group of extremists… we can’t accuse one religion or one country of being a source of extremism and terrorism,” it said in a statement.
Urging Americans to reject Trump’s call, Dar Al-Iftaa said his proposal “will lead to conflict… and increase hate, which will be a threat to social peace in the United States.
“This will give a chance to extremists from all parties to realize their criminals aims,” it said.
Tahir Ashrafi, the head of the Ulema Council, Pakistan’s biggest council of Muslim clerics, said Trump’s comments promoted violence.
“If some Muslim leader says there is a war between Christians and Muslims, we condemn him. So why should we not condemn an American if he says that?“
Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Armanatha Nasir said his government would not comment on election campaigns in other countries, while adding that his country had made know its position on terrorism.
“As the country with the biggest Muslim population in the world, Indonesia affirms that Islam teaches peace and tolerance,” he told Reuters. “Acts of terror do not have any relation with any religion or country or race.”
Din Syamsuddin, chief of Indonesia’s Muhammadiyah, the second-largest Muslim organization in the country, said Trump’s comments were a joke.
“It is laughable that there is a person in this modern, globalized era who is so narrow-minded as to ban some people from entering America,” he said.
Rizki Aulia, a white-collar worker in Jakarta, said there was no relation between Muslims and terrorism.
“I think terrorism is not about religion. Non-Muslims do it too, so why should Muslims be banned from entering the US?“
Under fire from own partymates
Trump’s comments at a rally on Monday in South Carolina followed last week’s attacks in San Bernardino, California, by a Muslim couple in which a Muslim couple killed 14 people:.
The husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, was US-born. The wife, Tashfeen Malik, was born in Pakistan and came to the United States from Saudi Arabia.
The comment prompted criticism from Republican former Vice President Dick Cheney and Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush, who said Trump was “unhinged.”
Somchai Jewangma, an officer with Thailand’s Sheikhul Islam Office, which governs the country’s Muslims:
“I don’t think that can ever be done. The United States has economic ties with Islamic countries and there are millions of Muslim people in America. This is just a policy to please those who don’t like Muslims and to gain more support.
“It’s true that there are Muslim extremists, those who don’t have good intentions for Islam. But there are 1.7 billion Muslim people in the world. If we were all bad, then the world would be uninhabitable.”
Somchai also said entry rules already have become stricter: “When I applied for a US visa, I was inspected for months.”
Azra Khan, president of the Canberra Islamic Center in Australia, said Trump’s proposal is the wrong way to address last week’s attack in San Bernardino, California, in which a Muslim couple killed 14 people:
“Clearly Donald Trump is trying to inflame the situation. Clearly this tragedy is not about Muslims.
“He could better improve the situation if he were to say, ‘Let the US take guns more seriously and ban them.’ That one simple solution would be much more suitable and make the streets of America far safer.”
‘Clutching at straws’
Nur Jazlan Mohamad, Malaysian deputy home minister, said the proposal is not aligned with America’s image as tolerant and democratic, and could play into the Daesh group’s hands by alienating Muslims who are already in the US. “His proposal reflects the thinking of many people in America, and this is worrying,” he said.
Keysar Trad, the chairman of the Sydney-based Islamic Friendship Association of Australia, said Trump’s statement reflected political desperation.
“Donald Trump’s statement is a desperate statement by a desperate man who knows that he’s clutching at straws and has no chance of winning the election. So he’s trying to win it off the back of the Islamophobia industry.”
Mahroof Khan, an Islamic scholar in the northern Indian city of Lucknow, said, “America calls itself the champion of human rights all over the world. I’m appalled that someone running for president in that country is publicly spreading such views. If he says he has made these comments in the context of terrorism, then he should know that the majority of the Muslim world condemns those who use Islam to spread terror.”
Sam Bahour, a Palestinian-American business consultant who moved from Youngstown, Ohio, to Ramallah, West Bank, in the 1990s, called the comments “disgraceful” and “absurd.”
“The backlash is going to be against Muslims. The Muslim community understands the inherent racism in some pockets of US political life. This makes the melting pot not melt at the end of the day.”
Bahour said relatives in the US have been telling him “how they are hearing comments in the street, supermarkets, really racist comments. It’s not going to be the same being a Muslim in America, even once this passes.”