By Len Patel
President Trump pointedly failed to recognize the contributions of Muslims in America in his speech to leaders of 50 Muslim nations in Saudi Arabia Sunday.
Apparently making nice to Muslims around the world does not include those that live in his own country.
President George W Bush after 9/11 emphasized religious tolerance and a respect for faith in a warning for those who wanted to take their anger out on Muslim Americans.
President Trump, almost 16 years removed from that dark day in history, did not even acknowledge the existence of Muslims in America in his speech.
The omission was noted in a statement released by the Council on American-Islamic Relations which called on the President to move beyond rhetoric and into concrete action.
“Such concrete actions should include condemning Islamophobia, protecting the civil rights of American Muslims and other minority groups, achieving just and comprehensive resolutions to the various Middle East conflicts, ending religious and ethnic profiling at borders and in airports, ending support for dictators whose oppression foments extremism and violence, and supporting mainstream Muslims who peacefully pursue social, economic and political progress around the world,” said Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Adnan Zulfigar, a Philadelphia-based Truman National Security Project fellow was even more blunt.
“You don’t mention them once in your entire speech? What that tells me is that Trump’s conception of America is not only Muslim-free but, in many respects, minority-free,” Zulfigar said to Buzzfeed. “He easily engages with Islam as a foreign ‘other,’ as opposed to Islam and Muslims as part of the American fabric.”
The realities of being President can be sobering. While on the campaign trail he criticized President Obama for refusing to utter the words “radical Islamic terrorism.” Obama said such rhetoric would only alienate Muslim allies.
So guess what. President Trump in his speech abandoned the term “radical Islamic terrorism” and chose to use the the less volatile words “Islamic extremism” instead. Yet no such shift in tone for Muslims in America. Muslim Americans are invisible to President Trump until he needs to sacrifice them in a desperate bid for votes.
Can a message of tolerance to Islam abroad be persuasive without a corresponding affirmation of American Muslims at home? David Mislin asked in a commentary on the Religion News Service.
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