Trump’s Latest Anti-Muslim Plan Receives Worldwide Condemnation
Donald Trump's plan to exclude Muslims from the United States is provoking condemnation, and confusion, around the world.
Donald Trump’s proposal to ban Muslim immigration to the United States for some unspecified period, along with other comments that he’s made in recent days, has resulted in a rash of condemnation and bewilderment from around the world, including from sources that have rarely if ever commented on American domestic politics:
LONDON — A day after Donald J. Trump called for a ban on the entry of Muslims into the United States, much of the rest of the world looked at the American presidential election on Tuesday with a mix of befuddlement and despair.
How is it, many wondered, that the same nation that twice put the black son of a Kenyan in the White House could now be flirting with Mr. Trump and his divisive, exclusionary stances?
His remarks ignited widespread condemnation that crossed ideological and social lines in many countries.
In Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron, of the Conservative Party, dismissed Mr. Trump’s position as “divisive, unhelpful and quite simply wrong.”
Prime Minister Manuel Valls of France, which is still reeling from deadly attacks by Islamic extremists, wrote on Twitter: “Mr. Trump, like others, fuels hatred,” and “Our only enemy is radical Islamism.”
Responding to some of the blistering criticism on Tuesday, Mr. Trump, a Republican presidential candidate, steadfastly defended his proposal but said any ban would be temporary and would not apply to United States citizens.
His comments were widely shared on social media throughout the Arab world. In a region racked by conflict, his language had an impact, including in Egypt, where he was condemned by the country’s highest religious authority and by many others, who called him an Islamaphobe, a racist or, as Reem Khorshid, a 21-year-old engineering student and blogger, put it, “a madman who has no sense at all.”
Rachid Tlemcani, a professor of political science at the University of Algiers, warned that Mr. Trump could push young people toward the Islamic State.
“A lot of people in the Middle East think of the United States as the last place we can go if things turn really bad, as it is the place of freedom and liberty,” Mr. Tlemcani said. “I think that sort of comment could even invite some act of violence against America. I think he is not responsible.”
As in the United States, Mr. Trump has incited particularly intense debate, not least in predominantly Muslim countries and in Europe, where far-right parties like Marine Le Pen’s National Front have been gaining ground by invoking anti-immigrant messages similar to those of Mr. Trump and where memories of 20th-century fascism still run deep.
J.K. Rowling, the British author of the best-selling Harry Potter books, even mused that Mr. Trump was worse than the books’ arch-villain, Lord Voldemort.
Charles Grant, the director of the London-based Center for European Reform, said Mr. Trump was anathema to many Europeans because his populism had edged toward fascism and conveyed a willingness to preach an open hatred of religious minorities that many far-right leaders, from Ms. Le Pen in France to Nigel Farage of the euroskeptic U.K. Independence Party in Britain, tried to temper as they fought to move their parties into the political mainstream.
Mr. Grant added that Mr. Trump conveyed an ignorance of world affairs that Europeans found hard to stomach from a contender in a national election in the United States.
“Donald Trump strikes me as a very different kind of populist right-winger than the kind we’ve grown used to in Europe in that he shows a complete ignorance about the world,” Mr. Grant said. “While Le Pen and others may say things that are alarmist, they at least acknowledge the premise of religious tolerance we’ve had in Europe since the 18th-century Enlightenment.”
In France, which is grappling with the challenges of integrating a large Muslim population, the newspaper Le Monde called Mr. Trump’s comments “unprecedented.”
But observers in France, where the National Front won the first round of regional elections last weekend, also noted that Mr. Trump reflected a familiar nationalist and anti-immigrant impulse, extending from Paris to Budapest. After the recent influx of migrants to Europe, many of them from the Middle East, Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary said that his country had a right to protect its Christian traditions by refusing to accept large numbers of Muslims.
In La Défense, a business district west of Paris, Inès Lessieur, 23, a student, said Mr. Trump depressed her. “I am sure he’ll get elected,” she said. Another student, Laura Albat, 20, responded, “No, a country that voted twice for Obama cannot elect a man like that.”
In the Arab world, Mr. Trump’s anti-Muslim comments have yielded growing alarm, as many wonder what the approaching election could mean for the involvement of the United States in their region.
“There is something disturbing about where the Americans are going in their relations with the outside world in general and with the Arab and Islamic world in particular,” said Abdulkhaliq Abdulla, a retired professor of political science from the United Arab Emirates. “All of a sudden it seems that America, or at least some segments of America, have forgotten what America stands for.”
Hafez Al Mirazi, the director of the Kamal Adham Center for Television and Digital Journalism at the American University in Cairo, contrasted Trump’s comments with the moment in 2009 when President Obama spoke in Cairo and attempted to reach out to the Arab and Muslim world, inspiring many with his personal story of success.
“What we are getting now is really terrible,” Mr. Mirazi said. “Stuff that only the Ku Klux Klan and others would say.”
Dar al-Ifta, the authority that issues religious edicts in Egypt, called Mr. Trump’s comments “extremist” and warned that they “threatened societal peace” in the United States.
Trump also received a rebuke from abroad over his comments yesterday that there are parts of London and Paris that are so dangerous that even the police don’t go there because of the fact that they’ve come under the control of “radical Muslims.” In response, both London Mayor Boris Johnson and the Metropolitan Police, which I don’t believe has ever commented on American politics, condemned Trump’s remarks in forceful language. Although Johnson, being his usual colorful self, added that there are parts of New York City that he would not enter for fear that he might encounter Donald Trump. This reaction from London is not dissimilar to the reaction from Parisian officials when Bobby Jindal and Fox News made claims about “no go zones” in Paris that consisted of predominantly Muslim communities in that city. Quite obviously, the reaction of authorities in both cities is motivated primarily by the desire to push back against claims that their cities are dangerous, something which could scare away tourism, as it is by any desire to get involved in American political campaigns. Nonetheless, the fact that local officials feel compelled to respond to American Presidential candidates is an interesting measure of the kind of impact that the 2016 race is likely to have around the world.
In the end, of course, the comments of world leaders and opinion makers is unlikely to have much of an impact on Trump supporters, and certainly not any more of an impact than the overwhelming condemnation that Trump’s latest comments have received from American political officials, including pretty much every Republican of note at this point. Indeed, for people who support Trump the fact that people like this are attacking Trump over his plan is likely to cause them to rally behind him even more than before. That begin said, the comments from international sources do lend some support to the arguments that many of those who have condemned Trump have made that his plan would end up hurting the United States on the world stage and in the broader fight against ISIS. Especially in the Muslim world, Trump’s comments seem likely to be incredibly off-putting, and the fact that they are coming from the frontrunner for the nomination of one of America’s two major political parties likely makes the impact of his virulently bigoted rhetoric seem all the worse. This is why you see not just Trump’s Republican opponents and the many Democrats condemning Trump, but also the White House and even the Pentagon have spoken out against it. In the end, none of the criticism will likely hurt Trump, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t important for the rest of the world to know that not all of America agrees with the nonsense he is spewing.