The Trump administration’s decision to temporarily ban citizens belonging to seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States has stirred a lot of controversy. The new American administration said the ban is not permanent and it is not directed toward Muslims in general. If this was the case, hundreds of millions of Muslims would have been banned and of course it is impossible for this to happen.
Yet, some of those who objected to the decision voiced doubt over its fairness, adding that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are not included in the list of banned countries. As if what’s needed here – according to their point of view – is to increase the number of Muslims banned and not decrease it. The list includes countries whose citizens applying to travel to the US were strictly monitored for six or more months during the Obama administration.
The new administration said it selected these countries because of the chaos prevailing there as it has become difficult to get reliable security information about citizens wanting to immigrate to the US or visit it.
This is not the first time the citizens of a certain country are banned from entering the US. However due to Trump’s image, and the manner in which the ban order was signed, a lot of controversy has erupted. This debate has diminished the significance of much more important matters to our region such as agreeing on safe zones in Syria and confronting the Iranian threat. These issues have even been discussed during Trump’s phone call with Saudi King Salman.
To fairly understand the motives behind all this, we must understand the motives of those involved and understand their real positions. I am not talking about the moral and humanitarian position taken by those who defend weak people and who are threatened and seek refuge to escape horrible tragedies. Such people adopt similar positions on all major causes and play important roles in helping those persecuted.
However, they often also quickly become a tool at the hands of deceitful politicians, partisan media figures and biased artists. These are the ones who have fueled recent protests in an attempt to serve their own aims.
In a democratic system, it is understandable for politicians to fight to remain in power. We, who are far away from these malicious activities, sometimes forget that politicians’ rhetoric and actions are not for our sake but for the sake of fulfilling their partisan aims and ambitions.
Would there have been the same fuss if former President Barack Obama had issued this ban. He is said to have secretly worked on such a thing and no one objected? Trump opposes the traditional political institution in Washington and his stunning victory against Hillary Clinton was unexpected.
Countries which have been at the forefront fighting terrorism, like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, are being continuously criticized at a time when Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif lectures about brotherhood and peaceMamdouh AlMuhaini
This is why he came under heavy criticism and all means have been used in this attack against him. It is humiliating when a competent competitor defeats you but what’s more humiliating is to be defeated by a competitor who is a joke, as the Democrats and even the Republicans allied with the Democrats see Trump as.
For them this as an opportunity to attack Trump during his first days in power. However, they don’t care about morals and values here, and this is understandable in politics. Former Secretary of State John Kerry participated in a protest on the first day when Trump became president.
Former president Obama did not express sympathy for the horrific massacres in Aleppo. Yet, he violated the traditional practice of former presidents refraining from criticizing a new president with a view to preserving presidential legitimacy.
Few days later, Obama criticized Trump to serve partisan and personal interests. Although there are hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees, only few were allowed into the US. In 2011, they accepted 29 refugees, in 2012, they accepted 31, in 2013, they accepted 36 and in 2014 it was a little more than 100.
These are small numbers considering the barbaric war in which dangerous weapons have been used and have led to scenes like that of child Aylan Kurdi who drowned in the Mediterranean Sea. We have not heard any political or moral criticism on those the way we do today.
Susan Rice, who was Obama’s foreign policy adviser, wrote on Twitter that the ban order was mad. Rice strongly opposed American intervention in Syria when at the same time Iranian militias are publicly committing crimes there. This is a misleading tweet of course but it’s unfortunately accepted during these political struggles. Her tweet also has nothing to do with the pain of the people she claims to defend.
Trump’s war with the media has been open and public ever since he announced he will run for the presidency and it has increased after he emerged victorious. Trump’s insistence to use his Twitter account is a frank confrontation in which well-known journalists announced that he was not their president and that they have not recognized his legitimacy until now. Although he selected respectable figures in his administration, the latter has not yet received a single positive praise.
Instead, they have unfairly focused on the administration’s flaws and mistakes and they’ve done so in an exaggerated manner. Following the ban order, the professional media, which unfortunately abandoned its neutrality, found a chance to fiercely attack Trump. This is a clear and intentional attempt to finish off the new administration and tarnish its image by describing it as racist, fascist and anti-Muslim.
If these journalists care about weak Muslims, then why haven’t they said anything regarding the terrorist crimes and massacres which the Iranian regime has committed? They’ve actually done the complete opposite of that. They did not voice any doubts about Iran and they did not question Obama’s lenient stance with the Iranian regime which planted the seeds of evil and threatened moderate countries.
In fact, the opposite seems to have happened. Countries which have been at the forefront fighting terrorism, like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, are being continuously criticized at a time when Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif lectures about brotherhood and peace. The same applies to the group of artists who are angered by laws that may change but do not care about the pain of people outside those stuck at American airports.
Those who oppose the ban said they are against it because it will contribute to angering Muslims and will increase recruitment among terrorist groups. It’s an obvious fallacy and a public insult. It’s a fallacy because due to the current culture of hate, extremist groups do not need any reasons to recruit more terrorists.
Obama resorted to the approach of remaining silent and not being provocative. Despite that, ISIS and the Popular Mobilization were formed during the phase when he was president. The excuse for opposing the ban order is an insult because it pictures all Muslims as monsters who are willing to easily get involved in terrorism and who lack logic and do not recognize dialogue or civil means of voicing opposition. What’s unfortunate is that those spreading this idea are religious leaders in the West.
These figures threaten governments that each step the latter takes and which they consider as anti-Muslim will create anger in Muslim societies and thus trigger the latter to go on a rampage and take to the street to kill whoever comes into their face. These are insulting statements that are being made within the context of defending Muslims.
The truth remains that they associate Muslims with inferiority and view them as immature. We don’t hear them making similar statements about other people and followers of different religions.
Some want to picture the ban order as a war against Muslims. This is what Muslim extremists want to do to deepen the culture of hate. In the west, they use Muslims to serve their political and partisan aims in order to overthrow Trump. However, isn’t it in our interest to pause for a while and stop repeating what is being said in western media in terms of accusations of racism, fascism and even Nazism and frankly tell ourselves: Let’s forget Trump for a while.
Why did we become a toy in the hands of extremists, who want to serve their terrorist aims, and of western politicians who want to serve their partisan goals? Why don’t we begin reforming our situation and fighting fanatics instead of continuing to insult others? This is the only way to resolve matters. Even if Trump goes, we will find another Trump to blame for all of our problems.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Mamdouh AlMuhaini is the Editor-in-Chief of Al Arabiya News Channel’s digital platforms. He can be followed on Twitter @malmhuain