US President Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor HR McMaster has announced that US President will deliver “an inspiring, direct speech on the need to confront radical ideology and his hopes for a peaceful vision of Islam”.
Donald Trump is scheduled to attend the US-Arab-Islamic Summit in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh on May 20-21 where, apart from delivering his vision about Islam, a religion that he used to slam during his campaign days, he would also make a strong pitch for a $100 billion arms deal with the Saudis.
This will mark Trump’s first foreign visit as well as his first outreach to the major Muslim countries of the world. The tour itinerary of his first international visit, spread over eight days, also includes Jerusalem, Belgium, the Vatican and Italy.
But will it work, given Trump’s streak of controversies with Islam, his disdain for the second largest religion of the world? Can he inspire peace when he carries a baggage of contempt?
Or will it be another badly executed move by Trump which will generate even greater a controversy like the ongoing row over Trump revealing highly classified intelligence on the Islamic State to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador Sergei Kislyak. The row has generated such an intense debate in the US that Trump’s NSA had to come forward to defend him last evening and CIA Director Mike Pompeo is going to brief the US Senate Intelligence Committee on the matter. And the US media has again started debating if there are possibilities emerging of impeaching President Donald Trump.
Trump has continued with his controversial views about Islam even after winning the US Presidential Election. He had taken oath on January 20 this year and within first four months of his term, he has tried twice to impose restrictions on Muslims from entering the United States. He first presented an executive order, banning travellers from seven Muslim majority nations, i.e., Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Sudan. He also suspended the US immigration programme and put an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees. When the US courts banned it, his administration reworded the order with cosmetic measures, dropped Iraq from the list and issued it again. The US courts again banned the order expressing their strong disapproval of the racial and discriminatory bias behind the order.
And the court observations were largely based on Donald Trump’s past views about Muslims and Islam that he exhorted one after the other.
In a December 2015 campaign rally after the San Bernardino shooting incident, he had said, “Donald J. Trump is calling for a complete and total shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”
The statement that was later removed from his official campaign website further said, “According to Pew Research, among others, there is great hatred towards Americans by large segments of the Muslim population.”
A month before that, in November 2015, he had blamed Muslims for cheering the bombing of the World Trade Centre, “There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey, where you have large Arab populations. They were cheering as the World Trade Centre came down.”
Donald Trump, during his campaign days, had floated the idea of a nationwide database of Muslims. It was ridiculous, humiliating, discriminatory and racial and was widely criticised but Trump didn’t budge from his stand. He would speak on “how Islam hated them (the Americans)” and he would say he was going to see his Muslim ban plan implemented once he got elected. His Muslim ban idea later got the angle of extreme vetting, an intense scrutiny of Muslims before entering the US.
It is through the route of extreme vetting that Donald Trump, after becoming the US President, tried to impose his idea of Muslim and immigration ban with his failed executive orders. After passing his first executive order on travel ban, Trump had tweeted, “Everybody is arguing whether or not it is a BAN. Call it what you want, it is about keeping bad people (with bad intentions) out of country!”And Trump did not like the US courts coming in his way of doing things. He expressed his anger and displeasure by comparing the US judicial system to that of the third world countries.
It is ironical that Trump has chosen a Middle East country for his first international visit, a region that he believes has executed large number of Christians. And this he had said as recently as in January this year, a week after the inauguration of his presidency. He tweeted, “Christians in the Middle-East have been executed in large numbers. We cannot allow this horror to continue!”
Donald J. TrumpVerified account
Christians in the Middle-East have been executed in large numbers. We cannot allow this horror to continue!
8:33 PM – 29 Jan 2017
So, every eye will be on Donald Trump when he delivers his vision for Islam in a Middle East country, in the presence of the heads of state of many other Middle East nations. It will be interesting to see how direct he sounds in inspiring a community that has traditionally been targeted by him.