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5 ways American Muslims should counter Trump’s narrative

Published Nov 24, 2015 02:54pm


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Trump said Muslims would be signed up at "different places," adding, "It's all about management." — AFP
Trump said Muslims would be signed up at "different places," adding, "It's all about management." — AFP

Ever wondered how Hitler was elected to power? Ever thought how a democratically elected individual could discriminate so much against a certain minority?

Well, now you have a refresher course in history if you are seeking answers to those questions. We have a modern day individual whose discriminatory narrative, and popularity in the polls, both just keep rising.

Recently, Trump suggested that all Muslims in the US be registered in a special database. He not only wants to shut down all mosques in the US, but in his own words, “There should be a lot of systems, beyond databases. We should have a lot of systems,” to have checks and balances on Muslims.

Let’s put things in context: to be fair, if an average Muslim, say in Pakistan or Egypt, makes over-generalisations about Jews, then it is not justified of Muslims to expect that a person born in a far flung valley of Utah or Arkansas not generalise things about Muslims.

But, when a wealthy, well-traveled individual dreaming to one day lead the United States starts making generalised claims, how much sense that makes, I leave to you.

The question really is: in such circumstances, what can the American Muslims do to counter not only Trump, but most importantly, the 'Trump mindset' that is spreading beyond his own personality as well?

1. Fight back as “Americans”

In my opinion, American Muslims need to start looking beyond themselves and understand that there are others who’re being affected by this thinking too.

Why counter this narrative alone when you can easily team up with Mexicans, who Trump has viciously attacked, and other affected groups to take your message of peace, tolerance and inclusive society to the next level?

Moreover, Trump is not only attacking Muslims and the Mexicans but the entire value system upon which the US was created. Thus, it is important that any effort of protests, etc. be done alongside people of all ethnicities and races.

An average white American needs to realise that you’re fighting for his rights too, because if Trump divides you on religious grounds today, tomorrow, another could attempt to divide even the White Americans on some other grounds.

Since an ideology of hatred is a threat to the entire country and not just Muslims, therefore it doesn’t require a “Muslim” but an “American” response to this challenge.

Write letters to your Congressmen and keep calling your Senators until they bring a bill to the House condemning the current state of affairs. Remember: they’re accountable for your tax money… that’s how they get their salary.

2. Make it an inter-faith issue

Perhaps the group which has paid the highest cost of such a hateful ideology is the Jews under the Holocaust. Increase outreach to Jewish, Christian and other religious groups; leaders of which could prove to be instrumental in condemning this kind of thinking which is today affecting Muslims.

All religious groups should understand that it is only the cycle of history that the mid-20th century saw an anti-Jewish rhetoric and that 2015 is experiencing an anti-Muslim rhetoric.

If all religious groups won’t condemn such hatred today, who will the cycle of history turn on next? Let’s shun it before it haunts us all.

3. Don’t take a “Clash of Civilizations” approach

In my conversations with many Muslims all over the world, I have seen that two things have been common in every country: an inclination towards self-victimisation and a never-ending identity crisis.

Somehow, to believe that the entire world is conspiring against Muslims is considered an essential part of one’s identity. In reality, to be fair, Muslims are not only victims but also perpetrators of promoting “clash of civilizations”.

Perhaps, it is time to remind ourselves that God’s message of peace and global justice was revealed not only for the Muslims but the entire humanity. Thus, it is important to mourn as much a tragedy in Africa as the loss of lives in the Middle East.

The aim of Muslims should not only be to end discrimination against themselves, but to fight for justice for every oppressed group around the world.

And, this precisely sets ground for my next point: globalise the seriousness of Trump's ideology.

4. Call an International conference against discrimination

With extreme right-wing ideologies gaining popularity all over the world, it is the right time for world leaders to do this.

The conference should not only attract global political leaders, but also social media executives, like Mark Zuckerbeg, and top corporate and philanthropic individuals, like Bill Gates, who can play a significant role in devising innovative strategies to shun hatred.

5. Help Trump find what's missing in his life

Apart from a psychiatrist, there’s also a dire need for a historian, who can let him know the benefits of immigrants, to the progress of the United States and the importance of living in harmony (or lack thereof) throughout history.

Perhaps the only thing common between Trump and myself is our love for jokes. But really, I am serious in my point above.

Before he introduces a database for registering Muslims, one of us should also send him a database of the achievements of Mexicans and Muslims living in the US. That’s the real database he should be looking at.

And finally…

We need to stop acting defensive or even apologetic.

There’s nothing wrong that the immigrants and Muslims have done, so there’s nothing that we should be fearful of. If anything, it should be Trump who should be guilty of challenging American values.

But countering this is not possible until we are all united. This is a fight between the more than 99 per cent moderates and less than one per cent extremists; victory can only go one way.


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Abdullah Khurram focuses on global security issues at Johns Hopkins University. Assertions and opinions are solely those of the writer and do not reflect the views of any institution(s) that he is affiliated with.

He can be contacted at

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (56) Closed

Aha Nov 24, 2015 02:59pm

Excellent advice.

GS Nov 24, 2015 03:12pm

Shouldn't this be the normal way of life with or with out Trump? You need a Trump to realize this.

Asif Nov 24, 2015 03:27pm

I believe all these individuals in western world who are involved in verbal/physical assault on Muslims and supporting moves to discriminate dislike Muslims from the very beginning. They are simply using these terrorists attacks to justify their attitude towards Muslims, although the fact is they always had these feelings for Muslim community. Even a small child can understand that if all Muslims were terrorists then the world would be a very different place.

rpsa Nov 24, 2015 03:28pm

Trump is only against illegal immigrants. USA is not a hotchpotch; it's a developed country.

Nation has to take tough decision like this sometime too...

Abbas Ali Nov 24, 2015 03:33pm

Don't blame others. Look at the contribution of Muslim to the society.

One can't put all the blame on Trump.

Muhammed Ali UK Nov 24, 2015 03:34pm

He is going against everything that America stands for, he is scaring the voters into fearing everything that immigrants do and say..even though it was immigrants from Ireland Italy and many other countries that made this country what it is today..

Aman Nov 24, 2015 03:47pm

If I were a Muslim, I would go to the authorities and ask for tracking tag device. So that my fellow man may not feel scared because of me. It will also instil some shame in the authorities.

Jawad Nov 24, 2015 04:23pm

Trump is not going to be president he hates all countries and all people. No one is going to elect him as president not even Republicans.

faryal Nov 24, 2015 04:34pm

But countering this is not possible until we are all united. This is a fight between the more than 99 per cent moderates and less than one per cent extremists; victory can only go one way.

Changez_Khan Nov 24, 2015 05:16pm

Trump and Carson both are racist and bigot.

Ijaz Nov 24, 2015 05:54pm

How did Jews successfully counter this narrative? Well, they went out there got on with their lives and became incredibly successful in the professions and business. This has made the indispensable for Western politicians. Why can't Muslims learn from history?

So my advice is work hard and succeed

Skeptic Nov 24, 2015 05:57pm

Trump needs to visit a few Muslim countries, meet the people and study the society, (instead of just looking for places to build more hotels).

Instead of make foolish and arrogant remarks to score some political points to exploit the paranoia some segments of American population.

Anon Nov 24, 2015 06:38pm

Frankly, people like Trump are a blessing in disguise (albeit a very good one). They remind you the value of having and improving your own country....

Amjad Wyne Nov 24, 2015 06:38pm

Very good advice - I wish #1 should have been "Unite"... and #2 "Seek Education". Nov 24, 2015 06:39pm

Trump is a jocker who is not regarded positively by many republicans. The people of USA must stop him before he does serious damage to all.

Abdulla Hussain Nov 24, 2015 06:50pm

Help him to not come in power. President in America just don't belong to America alone so the entire world has a responsibility to keep such racial attitude away from America.

Naghma Nov 24, 2015 06:52pm

good article!

Vijay Nov 24, 2015 07:20pm

@Ijaz The sanest reply I have come across. My advice get educated, start businesses, get involved in civic affairs, join the US armed forces, and above all ignore trump and likes of him

Muhannad Nov 24, 2015 07:26pm

@Ijaz yes success is the best defence !

Muhannad Nov 24, 2015 07:32pm

Bravo ! This is the first time I have come across a writer asking what Muslims should do to counter the prejudices against them rather that it's all nonmuslims fault or hiding behind denial or conspiracy theories.

Mohammad Khan (USA) Nov 24, 2015 07:46pm

Trump mind set of hatreds for every person, other than few circus clowns is based on his theory of fools, If Muslims in Pakistan or Egypt can make generalization about Jews,defininitely it is justified for those born in Utah and Arkansas to make generalization Mr. Trump has forgot to mention, on what basis should they make generalization ? did the Muslims occupied any land any where in this world ? did they took control of any place of worship ? the answer is definitely not, so what should be my reason to make any generalization Mr. Trump should add to his knowledge that the department of Immigration already have data base it does not needs Mr. Trumps shouldn't worry about it. coming about closing of mosques Mr. Trump should learn the lesson from the reasons behind the down fall of Soviet Union.

zaki Nov 24, 2015 08:04pm


Alla Bux Nov 24, 2015 08:42pm

I have been living in the USA for decades. While I do agree there is some discrimination I do not agree that Muslims are discriminated in general. That discrimination happens against all minorities and that is human nature. Muslims generally speaking do not assimilate with the local culture and try to remain separate.

Jaleel Nov 24, 2015 10:34pm

@Ijaz I agree

moni Nov 24, 2015 10:53pm

@Ijaz Best comment and very close to reality. Be powerful in terms of Knowledge, economics, not a weapon, You will be respected by all.

Mohsin-USA Nov 24, 2015 10:54pm

@Ijaz Agree with you 100%!! Learn from the Jews! Become indispensable for the country you live in!

FAQ Nov 25, 2015 12:08am

Nice article, but do you think Trump's views represent overall Republican views?

hyat Nov 25, 2015 12:47am

one more advice to add is , make muslim database and vote parties who favor anti-racism and talk about human rights. this time no republican. i was favoring republican because they always support pakistan but this time i will support either no one or democrats.

john Nov 25, 2015 12:52am

If you immigrate in to a country leaving your own, be ready to change yourself and do not try to change the country where you seek shelter.

Shaziah Zuberi Nov 25, 2015 12:57am

Trump's demonization of Muslims, as well as other minority groups, is simply part of his strategy to achieve power.

Editorial Staff Nov 25, 2015 01:06am

Going by elections in Canada people are rejecting politics of hatred and rightly so. It makes no sense to vote for a politicain just because he/she hates a particular religion or community.

People need to focus on real issues - jobs, taxes, law and order and Medical care instead of focussing on a non issue.

We beat fear with hope. We beat cynicism with hard work. We beat negative, divisive politics with a positive vision that brings Canadians together. - Justin Trudeau

Ramesh Sharma Nov 25, 2015 01:40am

@Alla Bux Good and honest reply from a fellow American. People who are commenting home (south Asians) know nothing about how we are treated here. I believe we are treated better than us in our native countries where the discrimination is prevalent based on cast, creed, language, religion, sect, nationality or even color.

Steve Boston USA Nov 25, 2015 02:06am

@Ijaz You make too much sense.

Manzoor NC Nov 25, 2015 02:11am

Living 25 years in the USA (most of my life), i have never been discriminated, i have been always called Mr Ahmad respectfully, but few times i have been searched at the airport which i take it as a good thing , protective measure should be taken when it comes to normal national safety. where ,in my own country of birth i have been searched 10 times, even before entering the airport but still i don't blame that Pakistani govt for that either, cuz thats Pakistani national security measure. Few bad apples made all of us look bad.

Bharat Nov 25, 2015 02:32am

Is Trump just being cautious or hateful?

I think he just wants to be very cautious

shahid Nov 25, 2015 02:33am

Marvelous piece of writing and all excellent points! And I couldn't agree with you more that instead of being defensive and apologetic, it should be an offensive approach. The US constitution gives equal rights to all its citizens regardless of race, color, religion etc. and he can easily be trumped!

Nizamuddin Ahmad Aali Nov 25, 2015 03:33am

Yahoo news is publishing some tweets from American Muslims, along with their Military ID and their medals with narrative, " I already have an data base number ( Trump wants to register all Muslim in a data base ) & I serve military to save live like you. Where is your ID ". There is a picture of an army captain ( Pakistani Muslim buried in Arlington, where President Kennedy is also buried, posted by his mother } Eventually these dispatches will shut him up.

FerozQ Nov 25, 2015 03:33am

This is a fairly simplistic view, the situation is a bit more complicated. Muslim Americans need not do anything! They should make financial contribution to democratic candidates and vote en mass for Clinton. All Republican contenders are bigots and racists, Trump only represents the worst about them. They are no different. The irony is in when Pakistanis talk about intolerance and racism – we need to pay more attention to what is happening in Pakistan to our own religious minorities (Jelhum, etc.) before dreaming of climbing higher peaks of racism and intolerance.

Shafiq Nov 25, 2015 03:56am

"it is time to remind ourselves that God’s message of peace and global justice was revealed not only for the Muslims but the entire humanity."

Shahid Akbar, New York Nov 25, 2015 04:27am

Trump is pouring tons of money to build his image to be a tough guy but his wealth is going against him and most voters do not take Trump seriously.

Amir Nov 25, 2015 04:44am

@Ijaz "How did Jews successfully counter this narrative?"

You know why? Because they did not mix religion with politics

Bigabiga Nov 25, 2015 04:56am

@Alla Bux A Voice In The Wilderness!

Kam Nov 25, 2015 06:10am

I am absolutely astounded by the number of people who disagreed with the author on this. The author was spot on absolutely correct.

Amirr Nov 25, 2015 07:11am

He is just saying openly (as his usual style) what the majority of people in the USA, regardless of their political inclinations, are thinking but are afraid to be labeled as bigots. So the onus is on us how make our image better.

Unfortunately, Trump is popular, even though he is arrogant, but people see him as a standup guy, who is not afraid of saying things others don't want to tread on.

I hate to say this but there is a fat chance that he could be the next President of the USA.

ahsan Nov 25, 2015 08:12am

Trump is absolutely right

Nadeem Nov 25, 2015 08:47am


Wisdom Nov 25, 2015 08:58am

Only one solution to all problems, if anyone has problems living up to American expectations, return back immediately.

ZAK Nov 25, 2015 09:22am

I have been living in US for a while and haven't come across any systematic racism against Muslims, If any one who encountered such an incident, that is because of their own lack of assimilation to the western culture. If you feel like you have been discriminated against, please contact contact our organization, Corner store Association of Pakistani Origin(CAPO).

Tariq Nov 25, 2015 09:22am

Have any one wonder why US gets to that level where people like Trump would think present themselves with such MAD thinking. This insanity need to rectify otherwise it is self destructing for US culture which is a essence of unity.

laurie Nov 25, 2015 10:15am

It makes me deeply ashamed that my Muslim friends have to listen to Trump and the media flurry his shock tactics generate. He is not going to be elected president, but he is a hateful spectacle, and very dangerous for this.

Saleem Nov 25, 2015 11:40am

@laurie ; Thanks, its nice to be appreciated.

Mohamad USA Nov 25, 2015 11:49am

Among the 27.5 % who disagree. Leave him alone, at the same time muslims should always remember the bias they faced on the basis of sect & ethnic origin in their parent countries.

rs Nov 25, 2015 12:41pm

No need to react. Just wait and see whether America elects him as their President. America is more tolerant than many other nations in as much as has allowed citizens of other countries to come in and thrive. Imaginary reactions to be avoided.

nabil Nov 25, 2015 04:43pm

@Amir absolutely wrong, jewish people carry there religion in all aspect of there lives whether socially professionally or politically. They have more power than real americans.

Hanif Nov 25, 2015 10:24pm

Trump is just being a card that he is. I just wondering if we have no quality candidate left to take over US presidency? Or the political elite is scratching their heads "what mess have we gotten into - abroad and inland?"

Najm Akbar Nov 26, 2015 07:50pm

Think like a human being; do not get into a religious divide. If you do, that means Donald has already trumped you.