Egypt's stocks close in red on Monday as benchmark EGX 30 dips 0.07%    Egypt's stocks start week higher, benchmark EGX 30 gains 0.48%    Fitch affirms Egypt's long-term foreign currency issuer default rating at B+    The unvaccinated prohibited from entry to Egypt state institutions starting December 1    Russia to lift COVID restrictions on flights to Egypt's Red Sea resorts on Nov. 9    Egypt, Greece ink deal for first subsea power link between Europe and Africa    Egypt hosts regional conference of EU refugee agency EASO    SCOHRE sparks discussion on harm reduction, tobacco control    Egypt to receive first of six high-trains from Spain's Talgo in mid-November    Egypt's iron and steel exports jump 197% in 8 months    Ethiopia halts work at its embassy in Egypt for 'economic reasons'    It's a bit frustrating to draw at home: Real Madrid keeper after Villarreal game    Russia says it's in sync with US, China, Pakistan on Taliban    Shoukry reviews with Guterres Egypt's efforts to achieve SDGs, promote human rights    Sudan says countries must cooperate on vaccines    Over 100 officials resign from Tunisia's main Islamist party    Johnson & Johnson: Second shot boosts antibodies and protection against COVID-19    Egypt to tax bloggers, YouTubers    Egyptian court bans use of mosques for political purposes    Brazil calls up 8 EPL players for World Cup qualifying    Refugees in fear as sentiment turns against them in Turkey    We mustn't lose touch: Muller after Bayern win in Bundesliga    Egypt records 36 new deaths from Covid-19, highest since mid June    Egypt sells $3 bln US-dollar dominated eurobonds    Sisi calls on House, Senate to commence second legislative sessions on 3, 5 October    Huawei Technologies has invested $10 mln over 5 years in innovation centres in Egypt    Gamal Hanafy's ceramic exhibition at Gezira Arts Centre is a must go    Italian Institute Director Davide Scalmani presents activities of the Cairo Institute for ITALIANA.IT platform    Qa'a play showing at Lycee El Horreya Theatre, Alexandria is a must go    Orange Egypt Introduces Amazon Prime Video    Tokyo Olympics: Cautious opening ceremony, shy start for Egyptians in competitions    Mallawi Museum in Upper Egypt holds recycling workshop for children during Eid Al-Adha    Egypt keen on stable tax policies to attract more investors: Finance Minister    Sudan declares state of emergency as water goes beyond Merowe Dam capacity    Niagara Falls illuminated in Egyptian flag to mark 23 July Revolution anniversary    Capital flows into EM keep recovering after March 2020 slump: Central Bank of Egypt    1 child orphaned every 12 seconds due to COVID-19-associated death: World Bank    Egypt, Japanese Olympic Committee discuss boosting sports cooperation    US emphasises AU's role in mediating Ethiopian damdispute    Ethiopia ready to resume dam talks with no legally binding agreements: Ethiopian official    Sunken city of Thônis-Heracleion in Egypt's Abu Qir bay yields new archaeological treasures    New films, concerts, and destinations for Eid Al-Adha holidays    Egypt, Oman discuss enhancing bilateral economic, investment relations    Al Ahly v Kaizer Chiefs: Cairo giants eye 10th CAF Champions League title    Tunisia hopes to have a UN role in resolving Egypt-Ethiopia dam dispute    APO Group enters new exclusive agreement with Getty Images on African press releases and images    On International Museum Day, Egypt opens two new museums at Cairo Airport    Old Cairo's Al-Fustat will be revamped on Egyptian President's directives    







Thank you for reporting!
This image will be automatically disabled when it gets reported by several people.



Arabs and Muslims as scapegoats
Published in Ahram Online on 27 - 10 - 2020

During the past century, we have witnessed a long and tragic history of US domestic policies that have targeted persons of Arab descent. We've been subject to discriminatory treatment by law enforcement, immigration authorities, and by both Democratic and Republican administrations. In addition to these hurtful policies, it is important to note the role played by the scapegoating of Arabs in American politics.
In the “The Politics of Exclusion,” published in 1990 by the Arab American Institute, we have documented painful experiences of Arab American candidates who were targeted by their opponents for their Arab ancestry or the instances in which candidates for local and federal posts baited their opponents for accepting contributions from Arab Americans or for having an individual of Arab descent on staff. As a result, some candidates became afraid of accepting the support of Arab Americans.
Examples abound. In 1983, a Democrat running for mayor in Philadelphia was challenged by his Republican opponent for accepting contributions from Arab Americans. He responded by returning the donations. In 1984, Walter Mondale running for president returned money to Arab American donors and in 1988, Michael Dukakis' presidential campaign rejected an Arab American endorsement. In the years that followed, a Republican Congressman running for Senate asked Arab American leaders not to contribute to his campaign as did a Democrat running for mayor in New York City.
All of these acts of discrimination were motivated by fear of alienating Jewish voters and were prompted by a campaign launched by a number of major American Jewish organisations, including the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee and AIPAC, who published “blacklists” warning of the emergence of Arab American leaders and groups who were deemed “anti-Israel” and were therefore to be shunned.
During the next two decades, especially following the signing of the Oslo Accords, this exclusion somewhat subsided, only to make a disturbing comeback during the 2008 presidential campaign. It resurfaced as an exclusively Republican-led effort and morphed into a largely anti-Muslim phenomenon.
Vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin stoked anti-Arab and anti-Muslim fires in framing her opposition to the Democratic nominee Barack Obama. This effort of focusing on Obama's “otherness” resulted in the encounter Senator John McCain, the Republican nominee, had at a town hall meeting. When accosted by a questioner who insisted that Obama was an Arab, McCain famously responded: “No, he's not, he's a decent family man.” While heralded by some in the media as a sign of McCain's nobility, Arab Americans, many of whom were “decent family men”, were less than impressed.
In 2010, we witnessed distinct Muslim-baiting used in a national campaign for the first time. It was utilised by former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich who latched onto a local New York City controversy involving plans to build an Islamic community centre a short distance from Ground Zero.
Using the language of anti-Muslim bigots, Gingrich said that Muslims were intending to construct a “Victory Mosque” to mark their conquering America. In that year's Congressional elections, 17 Republican candidates ran ominous TV ads accusing their Democratic opponents of being “soft” in their opposition to the “Victory Mosque”.
While only two of the 17 won their races, the die was cast. Fuelled by the nativism and xenophobia Republicans had utilised to build the anti-Obama Tea Party and Birther Movement, they embraced anti-Muslim bigotry as a major theme in their political repertoire. By 2012, during a Republican primary presidential debate, the majority of contenders pledged that they would either refuse to appoint an American Muslim to a post in their administration or, at the very least, would insist they first take a pledge of allegiance to the US before considering them.
While this view was not shared by the eventual nominee, Mitt Romney, Muslim-baiting continued to grow within the Republican Party, setting the stage for Donald Trump in 2016. During that year's campaign, Muslims were one of candidate Trump's favoured targets, along with Mexicans, refugees and immigrants in general. In addition to building a wall to keep out Mexicans, he pledged to stop more Muslims from coming into the country and to keep a close eye on those who were here.
It was, therefore, no surprise that shortly after his inauguration, President Trump issued an executive order suspending and placing restrictions on immigrants or refugees coming from seven mostly Arab and Muslim-majority countries. It was punitive and not justified. Those excluded were mostly students, visiting family members, or businesspeople. Visas were cancelled for between 60,000 to 100,000 innocents who were detained, interrogated and many sent back to their countries of origin.
In reaction to negative court decisions that he was unfairly singling out Muslims, Trump issued new executive orders increasing the countries covered in his ban. Nevertheless, the list remained largely focused on and adversely affected Arab and Muslim-majority countries.
In an equally cruel act, Trump reduced the annual number of refugees admitted into the US from Obama era highs of over 110,000 to less than 20,000. And while his administration has made much of its concern for Christians, this severe contraction of refugee slots coupled with the ban on immigration from targeted countries has severely impacted Arabs without regard for their faith.
The point to note in all of this is that the rhetoric espoused and the policies pursued by the Trump administration, in fact, have their foundation in a decades long effort by the Republican Party to target Arabs and Muslims, and by the failure of Democrats to vigorously confront and defeat these policies. And a by-product of this insidious history has been the role that this bigotry has played in promoting hate crimes against our communities.
The well has been poisoned and it will not be easy to undo the damage done. The challenge, however, is clear. We must put our immigration policy back on a sound non-discriminatory basis. We must dramatically increase our admission of refugees and asylees to meet the growing world demand. We must close the loopholes that make Arabs and Muslims fair game for Customs and Border Patrol officials. And we must fight xenophobia, anti-Arab and anti-Muslim rhetoric and policies, and base our relationships with these communities on their being fellow Americans and not on security concerns.
The writer is president of the Arab American Institute.


*A version of this article appears in print in the 29 October, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly


Clic here to read the story from its source.