The seven-million American Muslims remained at the receiving end since 9/11/2001 through reconfiguration of US laws, policies and priorities, but their plight has taken a new twist under President Donald Trump whose anti-Muslim, anti-immigration policies and rhetoric alarmingly fomented hate crimes against them.
The xenophobic rhetoric and anti-Muslim fear-mongering enjoys unprecedented influence with Donald Trump's most vitriolic anti-Muslim rhetoric as typified by his election-campaign declaration: "I think Islam hates us."
Tellingly, on October 29, attorneys for a President Donald Trump supporter, Patrick Stein, who was convicted in a domestic-terrorism plot aimed at slaughtering Muslim refugees, asked a federal judge to factor in the "backdrop" of Trump's campaign rhetoric when deciding their client's sentence. Patrick Stein was one of three right-wing militiamen found guilty in April of a conspiracy to kill Muslim refugees living in rural Kansas.
Stein's attorneys argued in a sentencing memo that sending Stein to prison for life was unwarranted and that a sentence of 15 years would be appropriate. They said the judge should factor in the "backdrop to this case" when crafting an appropriate sentence.
"2016 was 'lit.' The court cannot ignore the circumstances of one of the most rhetorically mold-breaking, violent, awful, hateful and contentious presidential elections in modern history, driven in large measure by the rhetorical China shop bull who is now our president," they wrote and added: "Trump's brand of rough-and-tumble verbal pummeling heightened the rhetorical stakes for people of all political persuasions."
The accumulated impact of anti-Islam and anti-Muslim rhetoric is that a large proportion of non-Muslim Americans think Islam is incompatible with American values, according to a research by the New America Foundation and the American Muslim Initiative. The research found that 56 percent of Americans believed Islam was compatible with American values and 42 percent said it was not. About 60 percent believed US Muslims were as patriotic as others, while 38 percent they were not.
Researchers found that Republicans were more likely to hold negative perceptions of Muslims and Islam, with 71 percent saying Islam was incompatible with American values. About 56 percent of Republicans also admitted they would be concerned if a mosque was built in their neighborhood.
It will not be too much to say that Islamophobia has entered the government. It is incorporated into the law, and becomes increasingly acceptable in America. Apparently, Muslims in America are more vulnerable to bigotry and Islamophobia as a result of President Donald Trump's behavior and actions than they were after the 9/11 attacks.
The level of anxiety and apprehension was such a high level that many Muslims were fearful to publicly display signs of their faith. A number of Muslim women, for instance, were deciding not to appear in public wearing the scarf. Alarmingly, a hijab-clad Muslim woman was stabbed in Texas by two white males.
As Sophia McClennen of Salon pointed out, the month of June 2018 was an especially bad month for the seven-million Muslims in America. First, a new study of U.S. perceptions of Muslim Americans conducted by Dalia Mogahed and John Sides for the Voter Study Group showed that many Americans view Muslims in the United States as insufficiently "American," and almost 20 percent would deny Muslim citizens the right to vote.
The Muslim Ban 3.0
Then in June, the Supreme Court upheld President Donald Trump's decision to institute a ban on immigrants, refugees and visa holders from five majority-Muslim countries in a 5-4 decision. This is known as Muslim Ban 3.0 since it was the third iteration of the Muslim Ban.
The synergy of these two pieces of information is critical becauseit reveals a common attitude that Muslims pose a threat to U.S. security whether they are U.S. citizens or not, McClennen said, adding: While these attitudes do break down heavily across party lines, it is noteworthy that the study indicated that even 12 percent of Democrats would consider denying Muslim citizens the right to vote. Their study also showed that 32 percent of Democrats favor targeting Muslims at U.S. airport screenings to ensure the safety of flights. That figure compares with 75 percent of Republicans.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority of the Supreme Court opinion upholding the travel ban. He emphasized that, despite ample evidence of President Donald Trump's animus towards the Muslim community, the ban was a security issue and not an example of discrimination, "Because there is persuasive evidence that the entry suspension has a legitimate grounding in national security concerns, quite apart from any religious hostility, we must accept that independent justification."
As made clear by Justice Sonia Sotomayor's dissent, where she referenced the court's 1944 decision to uphold the internment of Japanese Americans, the practice of claiming national-security needs in order to implement discriminatory policy is nothing new in this country. She argued that the court's decision "leaves undisturbed a policy first advertised openly and unequivocally as a 'total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States' because the policy now masquerades behind a façade of national-security concerns."
Taken together, the Supreme Court decision and the voter study reveal a mainstreaming of Islamophobia. Whether aimed at Syrian refugees or U.S. citizens, these attitudes, policies and practices underscore the reality that America really has a Muslim problem - a problem seeing Muslims as human beings deserving of dignity, human rights and respect, McClennen concluded.
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