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Refusal to accept Mueller Report could encourage Trump’s crusade on Muslims, Palestinians and Latinos

Apr 24,2019 - Last updated at Apr 24,2019

During President Donald Trump’s recent visit to the US mid-western city of Minneapolis, he encountered not only cheering supporters, but also angry critics of his campaign to demonise and marginalise Muslims. Protesters carried signs reading “Stand with Ilhan”, the young Somali Muslim woman who was elected to the US House of Representatives during last year’s Congressional election.

Writing in The Guardian, Jared Goyette said they rejected the accusation that the global Muslim community was responsible for the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, and condemned charges that migrants, like Ilhan Omar, a naturalised refugee from Somalia, are taking over affordable housing and creating lawless zones out of the police control.

The latter charges have been traditional in the US whenever a wave of migrants has washed up on its shores. Germans, Irish, Jews, Italians, Latinos and Muslims have all been subjected to such accusations. Latinos and Muslims are the current favourites, making them targets of Trump, his supporters and right-wingers.

Omar sparked controversy early this year by openly criticising the influence wielded by pro-Israel lobbies on US politicians, and later saying that hatred against Muslims spiked after “some people did something”. This phrase was unfortunate, as it appeared to downplay the trauma caused by the strikes on emblematic buildings carried out by Al Qaeda, an extremist organisation which does not represent the worldwide Muslim community.

Threats on Omar’s life have risen dramatically since Trump issued a montage video of the collapsing towers of the World Trade Centre with her remarks, thereby linking her with the attacks. Queried over his Tweet, he responded by saying that she has been “disrespectful” to the US and Israel. His remarks followed the arrest of a supporter in Florida who threatened to kill Omar.

Omar has first-hand experience of the anti-Muslim environment in the US, where she has lived since 1992, and wrongly blamed this hostility on September 11. The strikes on New York and Washington by commercial aircraft commandeered by radicals exacerbated but did not create anti-Muslim attitudes and Islamophobia. These attitudes have deep roots in Western history and US society, and have been exploited by pro-Israel, evangelical Christians and right-wing groups for decades. Trump delights in exploiting such sentiments, which are largely held by his uneducated, fantasy-driven base.

The late Palestinian academic and thinker Edward Said argued correctly that from the emergence of Islam in the seventh century until today, the Christian West has formed powerful prejudices against Muslims. Therefore, the relationship between the West and this region has been defined by confrontation and animosity. Hatred of and prejudice against Muslims have been imbibed by Westerners and others over the centuries, and have been elaborated by Western rulers, colonial figures, politicians and lobbyists to suit their purposes. Muslims who resist are branded “terrorists”.

Western films, television and newspapers have stereotyped Muslims. Since Omar wears a headscarf, she is instantly stereotyped, and since she speaks her mind, she is seen as a disrupter of the established order and a threat to the toxic mindset of the anti-Muslim sector of society.

Omar, Palestinian Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have expressed support for the Palestinian right to exist and to resist Israeli colonisation via the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement, designed to put pressure on Israel to end its occupation of Gaza, East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Rare members of the US Congress have tried to challenge the subservience the vast majority of US legislators from both House and Senate adopt where Israel is concerned. The few who dared have lost their seats.

Ocasio-Cortez has gone a step further than BDS and called on the US government to cut its $3.8 billion annual subvention to Israel since it funds the military occupation and repression of Palestinians. She is also under attack from Trump and his allies.

While Republican politicians have echoed Trump’s anti-Muslim comments about Omar, progressive Democratic Party candidates who have entered the US presidential race have criticised him and condemned threats on her life, which have multiplied in recent weeks. Among those backing Omar are Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Butigieg, Kamala Harris and Julian Castro. Their comments mark a change in the Democratic Party. The Democratic establishment, represented by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has been cautious about embracing Omar, Tlaib and Ocasio-Cortes, and has tried to smooth rifts with the pro-Israel camp.

Following the judgment in the Mueller report that Trump had obstructed justice, the progressive trio, along with Warren, have called for Trump’s impeachment as the appropriate response to the report’s conclusions. The report showed that Trump has blocked action on at least 10 occasions, and recommended that Congress “apply obstruction laws to the president’s corrupt exercise of the powers of office”. Congressional action would, the Mueller report stated, accord with “our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law”.

So far, the Democratic Party establishment has stood against impeachment, arguing it would further divide the already divided US and face rejection in the Senate, where Trump’s Republicans retain the majority. Refusal to accept the Mueller report’s recommendation would, however, be a dereliction of duty under the sanctified US system of checks and balances and could encourage Trump to carry on with his anti-Muslim, anti-Palestinian and anti-Latino crusade, putting at risk the lives, limbs and reputations of US citizens belonging to these com-munities: Omar, Tlaib and Ocasio-Cortez above all.

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