In the wake of the ghastly Orlando shooting that claimed 49 innocent lives, the Republican presumptive nominee declared his problem with American Muslims during an interview with CNN on Monday.
“They don’t report them,” Trump said about the Muslim community’s alleged reluctance to report extremist threats to authorities.
“For some reason, the Muslim community does not report people like this,” he added, making a reference to Omar Mateen, who went on a shooting rampage in a gay bar in Orlando for three hours last weekend before he was shot down by members of a SWAT team.
The shooting has sparked a range of debates both inside and outside the American political spectrum, and while Democrats have at least appeared keen in focusing their attention on issues of gun control and the ease with which someone like Mateen could buy an assault rifle in America, Trump has turned the crisis into an opportunity for himself, doubling down on the proposal that he had made earlier during his campaign trail — that of temporarily stopping Muslim immigrants from entering the United States.
Now, while an inherently ludicrous idea, Trump’s ban proposal derives from the generally held assumption that American Muslims are less American, and more Muslim — that, essentially, Muslims cannot assimilate in America, a view encouraged by Trump. Thus, if American Muslims are not keen to help authorities spot the fundamentalist among them, they should stay out of America altogether.
This proposal by Donald Trump found quite a few takers, as it turned out, because many insecure, predominantly white Trump supporters also believed that the moderates among the Muslim community (who greatly outnumber the extremists) were not doing enough on their part to keep America safe. On the other hand, some of them feared they were helping extremists in carrying out attacks on U.S. soil.
However, a new report by Reuters completely rebuffs those claims, showing that American Muslims repeatedly inform authorities of fellow Muslims they fear might be turning to extremism.
Some of the top law enforcement officials told the international news agency that American Muslims invariably tend to inform authorities about any suspicious activity they feel could be detrimental to the security of their county, city, or, in a larger context, to the nation.
FBI Director James Comey confirmed this report when he spoke about the robust relationships the agency has with many followers of the Muslim faith.
“[Muslims] do not want people committing violence, either in their community or in the name of their faith, and so some of our most productive relationships are with people who see things and tell us things who happen to be Muslim.
It’s at the heart of the FBI’s effectiveness to have good relationships with these folks.”
FBI director says Trump is wrong: American Muslims do report extremist threats https://t.co/babd85h60D— Raw Story (@RawStory) June 16, 2016
Not only Comey, but other law enforcement officials who work on the ground with American Muslims say that they share a good relationship with the members of the community, and on many occasions, it is members of the Muslim community who inform authorities about possible extremist threats.
Michael Downing, the deputy chief of the Los Angeles Police Department and head of its Counterterrorism and Special Operations Bureau, told Reuters that American Muslims are cooperative in reporting the “red flags.”
“I personally have been called by community members about several things, very significant things. What we say to communities is that we don’t want you to profile humans, we want you to profile behavior.”
Charles Kurzman, a professor at the University of North Carolina, who has been studying the American Muslim community and their relationship with terrorism for a long time, told the news agency that Donald Trump’s assumption is “defamatory” to the Muslim community.
“To claim there is no cooperation is false and defamatory to the Muslim-American community,” he said.
While it would be inaccurate to say that tensions do not exist between members of the Muslim-American community and American law enforcement officials, with one Muslim group even expressing concern that law enforcement officials sometimes tend to encourage “plots” to make an arrest rather than reaching out to them, sweeping statements such as the one made by Donald Trump are less conciliatory than they are inciting.
Moreover, as the report shows, they are wrong.
But Donald Trump has shown us during his campaign that he can utter unsubstantiated facts without bothering to check their validity. Should we be surprised then?
[Photo by Branden Camp/Getty Images]