WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama has urged Republican politician Donald Trump not to make Muslims across the world feel the West hates them, as doing so would have very dangerous consequences.
“It won’t make us more safe; it will make us less safe — fuelling ISIL’s notion that the West hates Muslims,” he warned. He said it would be a mistake to make “young Muslims in this country and around the world feel like no matter what they do, they’re going to be under suspicion and under attack.”
In his nationally televised remarks from the US Treasury Department on Tuesday, the president observed that Mr Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric “makes Muslim Americans feel like their government is betraying them. It betrays the very values America stands for.”
Mr Trump, who has been airing these views throughout his year-long campaign, further sharpened his attacks on Muslims after the weekend attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, where an American Muslim of Afghan origin gunned down 50 people.
But Mr Obama warned that America’s worst terror attack after 9/11 should not lead to hasty decisions.
‘We’ve gone through moments in our history before when we acted out of fear — and we came to regret it. We’ve seen our government mistreat our fellow citizens. And it has been a shameful part of our history,” he said.
Commenting on the president’s remarks, the US media noted that Mr Obama “lit into Donald Trump, turning the tables to make the impassioned case that Mr Trump is the one who’s un-American, not Muslims.”
Several media outlets described this “extraordinary denunciation” of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee as a stunning rebuke to the politics of fear mongering and division that Mr Trump promotes.
“We hear language that singles out immigrants and suggests entire religious communities are complicit in violence,” he said. “Where does this stop?” asked Mr Obama, referring to the billionaire politician’s proposed ban on admitting Muslims into the United States.
“Are we going to start treating all Muslim-Americans differently? Are we going to start subjecting them to special surveillance? Are we going to start discriminating against them because of their faith?” Mr Obama asked, his voice rising with frustration.
Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, delivered an equally blistering denunciation of Mr Trump’s politics in a speech in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. And unlike the president, she named her rival.
“History will remember what we do in this moment,” she said, asking responsible Republican leaders” to join her in condemning Mr Trump. “What Donald Trump is saying is shameful.”
Her half-hour speech was a point-by-point rebuttal to Mr Trump’s remarks a day earlier, when he implied that all Muslim immigrants posed a threat to American security, they should be banned from coming to this country and those already here should be watched and made to spy on possible suspects within their community.
The former secretary of state warned that Mr Trump was temperamentally unfit to serve in the White House. She also claimed that his obsession with the words “radical Islam” was a smokescreen for his own lack of knowledge.
“Is Donald Trump suggesting that there are magic words that once uttered will stop terrorists from coming after us?”
Mrs Clinton asked. “What I will not do is demonise and declare war on an entire religion.”
President Obama also raised this point while repudiating Mr Trump’s claim that he was abetting terrorism by refusing to use the words “radical Islamic terrorism.”
“What exactly would using this label accomplish? What exactly would it change?” Mr Obama asked. “Would it make ISIL less committed to try and kill Americans? Would it bring in more allies? Is there a military strategy that is served by this?
“The answer is none of the above. Calling a threat by a different name does not make it go away,” he said.
The president also sought to shame Republican leaders, who disagree with Mr Trump’s views but are reluctant to express their feelings publicly.
“Do Republican officials actually agree with this? Because that’s not the America we want — it doesn’t reflect our democratic ideals. It won’t make us more safe. It will make us less safe,” he said.
Mr Trump responded to the President remarks, saying Obama “was more angry at me than he was at the shooter.”
“The level of anger, that’s the kind of anger that he should have for the shooter and these killers that shouldn’t be here,” he said, blasting Mr Obama as a “lousy president” who had done a “terrible job.”
He hammered Trump over his “dangerous” mindset and “loose talk and sloppiness” about who exactly America was fighting, implying that Trump’s remarks were actually driving Muslims who might be prone to radicalisation into the arms of the militant Islamic State (IS) group.
Published in Dawn, June 16th, 2016