The election of Donald Trump to presidency most certainly took the world by storm. The world community were caught completely flatfooted. Most world leaders had assumed that Hillary Clinton would walk into the Oval Office without much fuss. The media pundits had all but completely written off Trump, as his campaign seemed in disarray and his rather buffoonish behavior had put off many different sections of the public. But they were wrong, and an insurgency among the white blue collar working class propelled Trump to an unexpected victory.
Trump’s Victory Was Actually NOT As Shocking As Claimed
Most didn’t see it coming. Sadly, in the US, I am not aware of any leading Muslim figure who predicted that Trump would overtake Clinton. Prominent scholars such as Yasir Qadhi and Hamza Yusuf have admitted that they were surprised by the result. The reason I say ‘sadly’ is that the reality is that Trump’s victory was not as shocking as claimed. The famous documentary film maker Michael Moore wrote months earlier that he saw Trump triumphing. The margin of difference between Trump and Clinton in the polls was slim and not insurmountable. Had Muslim leaders understood the true possibility of Trump’s victory, perhaps they may have taken necessary steps to prepare the Muslim community, particularly in the US, for what is to come.
How Will This Affect Muslims?
Muslims may justifiably feel a sense of trepidation as Trump prepares his cabinet. Several of those individuals selected in key cabinet posts have made derogatory remarks about Islam and Muslims, and the prospect of giving them actual political power is unsettling. What is still unclear is whether Trump will actually follow through with many of his outrageous policy suggestions, such as the blanket ban on Muslims from entering the US, or were they just empty political rhetoric that was fed to his nativist base to get him elected. (My suspicion is that it is the latter, and a faint superficial attempt may be made by the Trump administration to implement some policies, only to be dropped later)
Muslims Need To Speak Up
Muslim leaders, in my opinion, should also recognize that the period between now and when Trump officially assumes office on 20 January may be a small window of opportunity. They should try and organize a delegation of senior leaders from the Muslim community to meet with the President-Elect. The meeting would be to discuss issues concerning the upcoming administration, and not necessarily as an endorsement of Trump’s toxic views.
Trump is no ideologue, unlike many in the Republican party. He is, at his core, a a sort of pragmatist and negotiator with little core value and scant knowledge of the issues. By having his ear, even for a brief period, Muslims can inform him of the link between US military invasions, occupations and support for dictatorial regimes, and the terrorist blowback that results from these interventions. They can stress the urgent need to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a just way. They can emphasize the need for the President to condemn attacks on Muslims citizens and the rise of hate crimes against Muslims in the country.
Yes, it may turn out that all of this falls on deaf ears and Trump rebuffs these sage pieces of advice. It may turn out that the meeting can be just another photo-op moment for Trump to deflect media criticism. But in the grand scheme of things, meeting with a malleable Trump can hold the small possibility to budge him on key issues. Rather than turning to weak Democrats for their protection, Muslims should seek to speak the truth to power before it may be too late.