Is Donald Trump afraid of Muslims

Donald Trump's remarksOften fear and horror among American Muslims

With his demand for an entry ban for Muslims, Donald Trump caused enthusiasm among some of the Republicans, horror in Europe - and uncertainty among American Muslims. They are a well integrated part of society and are increasingly wondering whether they should still be part of it.

The Muslims receive encouragement from different quarters. Not just from the boxer Muhammad Ali, who is himself a Muslim and called on politicians to awaken understanding for Islam. Mark Zuckerberg, like Donald Trump a billionaire and also head of Facebook, said he could only imagine the fear Muslims currently feel about being "persecuted for the deeds of others". Since the terror of Paris, and even more so since the 14 people murdered by an Islamist couple in San Bernardino, California, the already harsh rhetoric about migration has increased again. So much so that President Obama felt compelled to warn against bigotry - alluding to Trump, but without mentioning him.

2.8 million Muslims in the US

Until recently, Trump, who wants to become the Republican presidential candidate, mainly railed against illegal immigrants from Mexico. Now it's about the Muslims in the country, and if their lobby organizations are to be believed, there is increasing reason to be afraid. American-Islamic Relations Council (CAIR) spokesman Ibrahim Hooper, a convert from Canada, says it is as bad as it has been since the days after September 11, 2001. CAIR-listed incidents in recent weeks include a pig's head dumped in front of a Philadelphia mosque, street abuse, assault and death threats (a detailed list can be found in the LA Times). "It's really scary," says Hooper.

Scientists date the beginning of the immigration of Muslims into the USA in the 1870s. It was not until the middle of the 20th century that their numbers began to grow noticeably. Today around 2.8 million Muslims live in the USA (for comparison: in Germany, which is much smaller, there are more than 4.2 million.).

Muslims are considered to be well integrated

This makes Arabs and Muslims a relatively young phenomenon in the immigrant society of the United States. They are, so to speak, "the new kids on the block", the new ones in the neighborhood. Regional focuses are Dearborn near Detroit in the state of Michigan, where the largest mosque in the United States is located, and Paterson in New Jersey, which is often referred to as "Little Ramallah". Otherwise, Muslims are spread across the urban centers. "This is different from Europe, where they are often concentrated in suburbs, for example in the banlieues of Paris," explains Martin Thunert from the Heidelberg Center for American Studies. This distribution probably also contributes to the fact that Muslims - who are by no means mainly Arabs there - are considered to be quite well integrated in the USA. According to Thunert, they are more likely to have college degrees than white Americans and are represented in higher income groups according to their number.

Another example of the state of integration? Tanzila "Taz" Ahmed and Zahra Noorbakhsh, who run the podcast "Good Muslim, Bad Muslim" together. In it they rail against the so-called Islamic State, but also address the fact that Muslims are constantly being asked to distance themselves from terrorist attacks. In doing so, they laugh hard at the fact that the English word "condemnation" for "judgment" contains a condom phonetically. Silly, but definitely integrated.

Serve as scapegoats

Muslims are the youngest group to feel American nativism, i.e. the isolation from influences perceived as alien. In the 19th century it was the Catholics. During the Second World War, the citizens of Japanese descent who were interned for fear of their alleged loyalty to Tokyo. Most recently, people from neighboring Mexico had the worst reputation. "After the atrocity in Paris," wrote the British magazine The Economist recently, "in the United States, Muslims have replaced the much maligned Mexicans as objects of anger." The Economist identifies three factors that are responsible for such internal isolation: economic problems, national security, and religious unease. "These three neuroses are dangerously connected in today's post-recession panic about Muslims and the Islamic State." In our interview, Professor Christian Lammert from the Free University of Berlin says: "The Muslims are currently being used as scapegoats to divert attention from other problems."

Trump is the fiercest, but not the only, Republican candidate for the presidential candidacy who has discovered American Muslims as a campaign issue. "I haven't heard such intolerance and hatred from political leaders in this society in 20 years," CAIR chairman Nihad Awad told the Guardian. The question arises as to what this does to the citizens.

A praying Muslim in Jersey City (JEWEL SAMAD / AFP)

In the summer of 2011, the Pew Research Center described their state of mind as "clearly predominantly satisfied" with their living conditions after a survey of Muslim Americans. Despite the complaints of distrust on the part of security authorities or fellow citizens, her view of the USA, ten years after 9/11, is not sobering. The study also saw no signs of increasing extremism. And now? Do the recent attacks on Muslim identity in the USA in the wake of terrorism and the election campaign - verbally and physically, in the political resonance chamber and on the street - have an impact on how much Muslims in the United States can still feel they belong?

Trump is radicalizing the Muslims

"Right-wing violent extremists might feel encouraged by the shocking statements made by politicians to take matters into their own hands," says American political scientist Muqtedar Khan. Xenophobia in American society has increased in recent years. This time, with Trump, "it's total escalation," says Khan on the phone in Delaware. And he also sees a danger on the part of Muslims: that of radicalization if they feel rejected in the USA. "If you ask me who the most dangerous imam is, my answer is: This is Donald Trump. He is the one who radicalizes Muslims the most."

"Islam has never been a particularly popular religion in the United States," says Heidelberg political scientist Martin Thunert. The latent presumption that the beliefs of Islam are incompatible with American values ​​is widespread. Thunert also points out, however, that the United States continues to register more hate crimes against homosexuals and Jews than against Muslims.

The xenophobic enthusiasm for Trump is currently overwhelming on Twitter and Facebook (but also the criticism of him). Disturbingly enough, many of Trump's supporters actually cite the internment of Japanese-born Americans as a precedent, which is certainly a dark chapter in American history. (Trump himself does not do that, at least not directly. He claims that his ideas are no worse than President Roosevelt's decision to put 120,000 people in camps shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.) Thunert: "The social media seem to be well suited to spreading simple messages. " Trump is obviously trying to keep the approval that he gets there on the boil. At least until the first Iowa area code in January.

Neither Thunert nor Khan believe that Trump has a real chance of becoming a Republican candidate, let alone President. But there is great concern about what it can do while trying.

Sumbul Ali-Karamali, who has tried to explain Islam to her compatriots in several books ("The Muslim Next Door"), wrote by email from California: "I feel extremely frustrated. Trump's statements do not only damage American Muslims , they are damaging all of American society. " Muslims, Sumbul said, contribute a lot to society, are well educated and earn well. Trump's verbal attacks? Ridiculous, she says. And concludes with conciliatory words: Despite Islamophobia, there are many who advocate mutual understanding and pluralism.

The music journalist Lorraine Ali, an award-winning Iraqi-born author who writes for the New York Times, Rolling Stone and Newsweek, summed up her feelings on the Trump case as follows on Twitter: "I have remained silent about it so far because it is so painful . But I've never felt like my faith and my country were in conflict. And I still don't. "