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Systemic discrimination, not Trump, is the problem: Analyst on George Floyd protests

Published: Updated:

Speaking on upcoming US elections and ongoing protests against police brutality and systemic racism, Wa’el Alzayat said the US is becoming increasingly polarized, but Republicans and Democrats need to look at legislation that will address systemic discrimination against African Americans and other minorities in America.

Protests have entered their second week in the US following the death of George Floyd, a black man, as a police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

“There are systemic problems in the United States the predate [President] Trump going way back to the legacy of slavery and our society and our government, Republicans, Democrats and independents need to address,” said Wa’el Alzayat, CEO of Emgage Foundation, a national civic education and grassroots organization for Muslim Americans.

Speaking to Al Arabiya, Alzayat said that US President Donald Trump had politicized the current protests, but with the 2020 presidential election coming in November, Democrats and Republicans are looking to score political points.

“[Trump] wants to seem to be very strong and tough and not compromising. So he could secure the support of what he thinks is his base on the law and order candidate. And I think that is misguided, and it's adding fuel to the fire,” he said.

With the political divide in the US deepening, Alzayat said Trump’s strategy is to appeal to the radical right that he believes will show up to vote in November. On the other hand, Democratic candidate Joe Biden is appealing to the Democrats, liberals and progressives.

“The middle of America has a very tough choice,” he said. “Do they go right or left?”
“And my sense is that if the job numbers remain at 40 million unemployed, and [the number of] those who died from COVID are already over 100,000, and these racial tensions don't show any sign of slowing down or get worse, I think Trump will lose in November.”

The US has been hit hard by coronavirus, which has claimed 112,834 lives by the latest tally, and the subsequent economic downturn. The unemployment spiked in April, but dropped slightly to 13.3 percent in May, with the economy gaining 2.5 million jobs in May.

Beyond domestic issues, international issues will also play into voters’ decisions, Alzayat said. But he noted that the US has not been a leader on these issues, like the environment, refugee issues, or Middle East issues.

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