IMPACT: Donald Trump is the President of the United States and has advocated and implemented anti-Muslim policies, most notably issuing a travel ban targeting a number of Muslim-majority countries. A number of his appointees or advisors have worked with anti-Muslim groups and promoted falsified claims about Muslims.
Donald Trump is the 45th President of the United States of America. His statements about Islam and his policy proposals concerning Muslims, particularly his call to ban Muslims from the United States in December 2015, drew wide attention and criticism.
In early December 2015, Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” in a campaign press conference. Later in the campaign, Trump called for an immigration halt from “the terror states” and “countries compromised by terrorism” — a position he sees as an “expansion” from his initial Muslim ban. Trump has also called for an ideological test of immigrants. In October 2016, he described that the original “Muslim ban is something that in some form has morphed into extreme vetting from certain areas of the world.” In February 2018, Trump signed national security memorandum “establishing a vetting center” for those wanting to enter the United States. Journalists and critics have pointed out that these policies could still target Muslims.
On January 27th, March, and September 2017, President Trump issued 2 separate Executive Orders and one Presidential Proclamation respectively, halting immigration from several Muslim-majority countries. The ban, referred to by legal experts and advocacy groups as a Muslim ban, was taken to court and temporarily halted multiple times by courts along with having 90+ legal challenges. In December 2017, SCOTUS allowed the latest version of the ban to take into effect, meaning “most citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad and North Korea will be barred from entering the United States, along with some groups of people from Venezuela.” On February 15, 2018, the Fourth Circuit “ruled to uphold the district court’s preliminary injunction, finding that the Proclamation (Muslim Ban 3.0) likely violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.” Additionally, the court found the Proclamation “unconstitutionally tainted with animus toward Islam.” However, Muslim Ban 3.0 remains in place until SCOTUS makes a final decision.
In November 2017, Trump retweeted anti-Muslim tweets from far-right, ultranationalist group, Britain First. Following this, a New York Times op-ed stated, “No modern American president has promoted inflammatory content of this sort from an extremist organization.” In response to Trump’s action, the Prime Minister of Britain stated it was wrong of Trump to retweet the group, which “seeks to divide communities by their use of hateful narratives that peddle lies and stoke tensions.”
Trump has a long history of anti-Muslim comments that go beyond the 2016 presidential campaign. In a March 2011 interview with Bill O’Reilly, Trump stated “there is a Muslim problem.” In a April 2011 interview, he doubled down on these comments stating, the Qur’an “teaches some very negative vie [sic]…when you look at people blowing up in the street in some countries in the Middle East… when you look at 250 people who die in a supermarket while shopping… there’s a lot of hatred there someplace.” Trump has drawn criticism for other statements like “Islam hates us.” In the wake of the Paris attacks in 2015, he also referred to Syrian refugees as a “Trojan horse” for ISIS fighters.
During his campaign for president, Trump proposed a variety of surveillance programs on Muslims in America, suggested that law enforcement close mosques, and advocated a Muslim registry or database as a means to combat terrorism. According to a Trump advisor, Kris Kobach, the administration is considering a revival of the NSEERS immigrant registry program, which largely affected male Muslim immigrants.
As president-elect, Trump appointed to key cabinet positions Steve Bannon and Gen. Michael Flynn, who have amplified the falsified claims about Islam voiced by anti-Muslim groups. As a candidate and during his transition, Trump was advised on immigration and foreign policy by Kris Kobach and Clare Lopez, who have also advanced these claims. The Brennan Center for Justice identified Trump’s administration as “Islamophobic,” as Trump, his staff, and advisors “have targeted Muslims through both speech and policy.”
Following a terrorist attack in London in June 2017, Trump attacked the city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, in a number of tweets and used the attacks to justify his Muslim ban. In November 2017, Trump used the moments following a terrorist attack involving a Muslim perpetrator in New York to push for stricter immigration policies, promising “to end the Diversity Visa Lottery Program” and “chain migration.”
Trump was noticeably quiet after the Finsbury Park terror attack, the Las Vegas attack (the largest mass shooting in modern American history), and the Minnesota mosque terror attack, all of which did not have a Muslim committing the violence. Critics have noted that Trump responds directly to attacks carried about by Muslims but not when Muslims are the victims.
In August 2017, a white nationalist demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia turned deadly after one of the participants rammed his car into a group of counter-demonstrators. Participants in the “Unite the Right” rally included white supremacists, Klansmen, neo-Nazis, and various militias. The demonstrators shouted racist and anti-Semitic slogans including “blood and soil,” a phrase drawn from Nazi ideology, and “the Jews will not replace us.” In response, Trump stated, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides. On many sides.” In the following days Trump again commented stating “I think there is blame on both sides.” An Article in The Atlantic stated Trump defended the “white nationalists who protested in Charlottesville” when saying, they included “some very fine people.”
Trump has lauded the work of the Center for Security Policy (CSP), an organization run by Frank Gaffney that warns about a Muslim takeover of America, and has been identified as an anti-Muslim hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. In calling for a ban on Muslims, Trump cited CSP’s dubious poll on American Muslims’ attitudes. During the campaign and after, Trump was supported by leaders of racist organizations like Richard Spencer and David Duke. Since the election, ACT! For America, another group considered by the Southern Poverty Law Center to be anti-Muslim, expressed optimism about its “direct line” to the White House, given that its board members — Michael Flynn and Walid Phares — were advisors to the President.
During the election and after, several anti-Muslim incidents occurred in which the perpetrators expressed their support for Trump. Data from the FBI and the Pew Research center revealed the number of assaults against Muslims in America in 2016 surpassed “the modern peak reached in 2001.” A 2018 report released by South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) found that “of the 213 documented incidents [between November 8, 2016 and November 7th, 2017] of hate violence post-election, perpetrators in approximately 1 out of every 5 incidents (21%) referenced President Trump, a Trump policy, or a Trump campaign slogan.” American Muslim groups expressed concern about how Trump’s rhetoric about Muslims might be influencing his supporters’ views and actions.
Trump drew criticism after not challenging a supporter, who spoke up at a 2015 rally and said, “We have a problem in this country. It’s called Muslims. Our current president is one…” Trump also falsely claimed that “thousands” of Muslims in New Jersey celebrated the 9/11 attacks.
Last Updated February 16, 2018