Just as I was beginning to admire Donald Trump, the President of the United States for building one of the healthiest US economies in living history and for his uncompromising stance against the planet’s biggest sponsor of terrorism Iran, he has gone down several notches in my estimation for promoting hate speech that pits the American people against Islam. Mr Trump has been criticized in the past for re-tweeting Alex Jones’ mad conspiracy theories and lifting text from white supremacist websites but in my view his latest misstep is one step too far.
To my great surprise and disappointment, he has chosen to retweet a video recording headed “The elite proclaim America must submit to Islam or else”. The video is an excerpt of a televised interview with a black-garbed Shiite cleric who is certainly no holy man or representative of the Islamic faith that is founded on peace and tolerance.
The interviewee sounds like a clone of terrorist losers like al-Qaeda’s Ayman Al Zawahiri or DAESH’s Al-Baghdadi and does not deserve airtime let alone be given prominence courtesy of the Leader of the Free World. I do not know who he is but clearly his message is poisonous, playing right into the hands of Islamophobics among Mr Trump’s base.
“And we conquer America and we win over this tyrant. And we tell the American people give me jizya [a tax]. We tell them pay the jizya and if they refuse, we will kill them, take their women and smash their churches,” he spouts, ending with “Let the whole world listen, this is Islam”.
No, it is not Islam. Those sentiments are the antithesis of Islam. This fool purporting to be a man of God has not only distorted the Creator’s message delivered in the Holy Quran, he is also inciting the weak-minded to kill Christians. He should be arrested or locked up in a mental institution.
The world is full of angry crazies these days. The white supremacists who killed Muslim worshipers in Christchurch and those who opened fire on Jews at prayer in Pittsburgh and California are the other side of the same dirty coin as the terrorists who bombed churches and hotels in Sri Lanka.
They are brain-addled nobodies trying to elevate their profiles on innocent blood. Those terrible incidents in New Zealand and the US only served to bring diverse communities together in grief and all my praise goes to New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for the gentle way she comforted mourners and brought people of all faiths together.
What upsets me is the President’s tweet that has elicited so many bigoted and racist responses like this from someone with the moniker ‘Fellow Patriot’ who wrote “This ain’t going nowhere unless they get our guns … and that ain’t happening either”. It is a shame Mr Trump has not taken a leaf out of Jacinda Ardern’s book! She nurtured a climate of empathy and forgiveness. The US President fuels the opposite.
I am concerned that the unhinged could take the ‘cleric’s’ nonsensical threats seriously to attack Muslims. It would be different if the President had added his own commentary ridiculing the man giving a bad name to the planet’s 1.6 billion Muslims. The fact that he did not appears to indicate that he takes this lunatic’s words at face value. I hope I am wrong.
Mr Trump, almost all predominately Muslim countries have open doors to Christians and peoples of all other beliefs permitted to practice their beliefs freely. There are approximately 40 churches in my homeland the United Arab Emirates of all denominations and there are many in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar.
Earlier this year, Pope Francis made an historic visit to the Emirates for the purposes of holding a Mass. He was welcomed with open arms not only by Catholics but also UAE leaders as well as the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, the most important religious voice within the Muslim World.
In Egypt’s new administrative capital under construction stands the largest cathedral in the Middle East in close vicinity to the new Al-Alim Mosque one of the largest in the world. Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is the first to visit a Coptic cathedral during Easter Mass. He constantly calls for tolerance, peaceful coexistence and the reformation of religious discourse.
I would remind you, Mr Trump, that Islam considers Christians and Jews as Peoples of the Book, followers of monotheistic faiths predating Islam, and as such they are afforded due respect. A great example of this is the visit of the Caliph Omar bin Al Khattab to Jerusalem in the year 637 where he accepted the city’s surrender after 500 years of Roman oppression.
The Caliph permitted Jews to live within the city’s walls and when he was invited to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre during prayer time, he declined the invitation to pray in the church purely because he feared Muslims might try to convert the church into a mosque.
You say you are a Christian, Sir. Some prominent evangelicals, among them your own Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, believe you were sent by God. Open your Bible to Matthew 5:9. There you will read the words of Jesus who said “Blessed are the peacemakers…” My region needs peace. Our world needs peacemakers. The growing scourge of bigotry and racism must be stopped before the coffin-makers get rich. If you care about your legacy, work to bring Muslims, Jews and Christians together and please refrain from tweeting videos of religious charlatans trying to drive us apart.
By Khalaf Ahmad Al-Habtoor