The fourth Ramadan with Donald Trump as president begins Thursday, April 23. My hope—along with countless other American Muslims—is that this is the last Ramadan with Trump in the White House... Inshallah (God willing.)
Trump has made Muslims—along with Hispanic immigrants—his go-to targets when he needs to whip the bigots in his base into a frothy furor. Trump has literally taken anti-Muslim hate to levels even the most notorious bigots like Pam Geller and Act for America’s Brigitte Gabriel, who was an invited guest to the Trump White House in 2017, couldn’t have dreamed were possible a few years ago.
The list of times Trump has used anti-Muslim garbage is too long to recite. But clearly he has done it by design. Trump’s first political attacks on Muslims came after Ben Carson declared early in the 2016 campaign that a Muslim shouldn’t serve as president, prompting the media-loving Trump to remark at the time that Carson had surprisingly “been getting a lot of ink on the Muslims.”
Trump was learning that Muslim-bashing got press, and more importantly, it helped him with GOP voters who had long been marinating in anti-Muslim bigotry served up for years by Fox News and GOP politicians. And being Trump, he took it to Trumpian levels. Unsurprisingly, it was just a few months later when Trump called “for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” a bigoted policy supported by 65 percent of GOP primary voters.
Trump’s other hateful comments about Muslims during the campaign were the type of garbage I read in emails sent to me by people who openly bragged that they despised Muslims. For example, Trump in March 2016 declared about Muslims, “They don’t want the laws that we have. They want sharia law.” Then there was his baseless claim that American Muslims “know who” the terrorists were but were not turning them in.
But Trump didn’t “pivot” as president to be more embracing of Muslims, unless of course you were a Muslim dictator like Saudi’s MBS or Egypt’s President al-Sisi, who could help Trump. Rather, he continued to stoke the flames of hate from the White House. Trump’s Muslim ban was one of his first executive orders that has ripped Muslim families apart while also sending a message that Muslims are not like everyone else.
Add to that over the past few years Trump has intentionally retweeted a range of anti-Muslim bigots, including the UK’s Katie Hopkins, a person who had openly called for a “Final Solution” of Muslims, which was Hitler's plan for eliminating all Jews.
None of this was by accident. Nor was it happenstance that just days ago Trump retweeted a known far-right journalist whom the Anti-Defamation league has dubbed “an anti-Muslim blogger” for his ugly rhetoric targeting Muslims and who now suggested that authorities would allow mosques to open during Ramadan while forcing churches to close during the virus closures.
And at last Saturday’s daily White House press conference, when Trump was asked about his retweet, he again stoked hate against Muslims by suggesting that Muslim Americans would have more rights than Christians to pray, stating, “I would say there could be a difference… I’ve seen a great disparity in this country.”
To be clear, as Muslim Americans, we have been adhering to social distancing guidelines in daily life and at our mosques, which are closed for in-person services, because we understand we’re all in this together as Americans. This is in glaring contrast to some Trump’s supporters, who selfishly protest while violating social distancing guidelines because they, like Trump, only care about what they want, even if it means infecting others.
Trump’s demonization of Muslims has not just resulted in record hate crimes versus Muslims over the past few years but has also inspired terrorist plots designed to kill Muslims simply for our faith. We’ve seen it in the case of three Kansas men convicted of plotting to kill Muslim immigrants who literally pointed to Trump’s rhetoric as radicalizing them, and in upstate New York, where MAGA lovers plotted in 2019 to kill Muslims in the area.
Imagine for a moment Trump had done this to your community. How would you feel about him? I’m betting you would despise Trump. I do. I’ve never actually hated a President of the United States on a personal level like this.
With Ramadan approaching, my feelings of hate are inconsistent with the message of spiritual renewal that is supposed to mark this holy month. So I, like others in my community from older to younger are ready to turn our feelings of animus toward Trump into more productive political action. Linda Sarsour, the executive director of MPower Change Action, put it this way as she encouraged more in our community to become politically active in 2020: “Trump has wreaked havoc on our communities and we will continue to do everything we can to see to it he won’t get a second term.”
Muslim millennials like activist Hebah Kassem from Virginia stated it bluntly, “I am looking forward to this being the last Ramadan with Trump and an end to his racist and xenophobic rhetoric and policies like the Muslim ban.” Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, M.D., a progressive activist from Michigan, cited Ramadan itself as a time to “speak out against the incompetent and unjust leadership of Donald Trump.”
None of us, however, speak out or want to defeat Trump simply because we are Muslim—we also do that because we are Americans. As President Obama put it during his first visit to an American mosque in 2016, “You’re not Muslim or American. You’re Muslim and American.” And as such we are animated by both our love of this country and our Islamic values—which perfectly overlap.
Come Nov. 3, which I call our nation’s “Judgment Day”—a concept that all three Abrahamic faiths understand—we will ensure that our community’s voice along with allies of other backgrounds are heard loud and clear at the ballot box. We do this as proud Americans and as proud Muslims. As Dr. Sayeed put it, “Muslim-Americans are done being scapegoated for praying differently in America. We’re done with Donald.” Inshallah he will be 100 percent correct.