COMMENT Recently, there has been a backlash against the backlash of Donald Trump’s blanket ban on travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries entering the US. The position these Trump apologists usually render is along the lines of “He is doing his duty to fulfil the election promise”, “It isn’t anti-Muslim” or “Please let’s not nose into another country’s issues while we have not solve our own problems first”.
Let me take the time to counter these arguments and state why it is highly important that we as Malaysian citizens stand up for justice and fight discrimination, whether it is on our soil or abroad.
“It isn’t a Muslim ban, if it really was, he would have banned many other Muslim countries as well.” “He is just taking action to protect and ensure the security of his country. This isn’t a discriminatory action. It is a patriotic action.”
Donald Trump’s ban is a highly unusual and irrational one. If security was his main concern, he would have also banned countries that actually committed acts of terrorism towards American citizens.
In fact, there have been zero acts of terrorism committed towards Americans by these seven countries. The ones that did – Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE – were not on the list. These three countries actually accounted for 18 of the 19 terrorists who perpetrated the Sept 11 attack on American soil. Incidentally, these are also countries that Trump happened to have business stakes and interests in.
One can only posit then that security wasn’t high on Trump’s agenda, but a political ploy to stoke anger against Muslims and to fulfil his election campaign promise of banning Muslims. It is filled with discrimination against people with very different beliefs.
“This is not anti-Muslim or discriminatory.”
Yes, it is. It was a promise made on the campaign trail over and over again, to ban Muslims from entering the country. Due to the backlash, it is only understandable that Trump will try to soften it as a security measure. However, one must not also forget his plans for a Muslim registry which is in itself, very anti-Muslim. The last time there was a registry that called out only registration of a certain group of people for monitoring purposes, was for the Jews in Nazi’s Germany.
One must not underestimate the grave bigotry this plan will uncover, that is prejudice against people with different religious beliefs.
“He won the mandate of the people, he is doing his duty to fulfil the election promise.”
Donald Trump did not truly have the mandate of the US people. While there may be doubts against the influence of Russian hacking and influencing the outcome, it must not be forgotten that Trump lost the popular vote by 2.9 million votes. Yes, the American system is also just as flawed as our Malaysian one and not as representative.
Hence, it wasn’t truly the will of the majority of Americans to have the policy of hatred and discrimination sowed in their country, built by immigrants.
Similarly, in Malaysia, it doesn’t mean that if Najib Abdul Razak won the elections, we do not have the right to protest any action he takes, be it our National Security Council Act, position on 1MDB or detention of Maria Chin Abdullah.
Like Trump, Najib did not win popular votes as well. And just because he assumes office, it doesn’t give him free right to do as he pleases without having the public hold him accountable. This is the true spirit of a democracy, whereby leaders are held accountable for their action by the people.
“Even the Gulf countries did not take in a single refugee because of terrorism threat. The US is only doing the same.”
One must remember that the US is a signatory of the 1951 United Nations Refugee convention which core principle is non-refoulement, which asserts that a refugee should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom.
Anne Frank was one such example of a refugee turned away from the US during World War II. She and many others refugees seeking safety in the US perished in Auschwitz in the Nazi’s gas chambers. How can one wish for the same for many others fleeing torture and persecution, just because of different beliefs?
Furthermore, it is untrue that the other Gulf nations did not take in any refugees. Because these countries are not signatories, people they harbour are not labelled as ‘refugees’. While that can be said, they have also taken far less ‘refugees’ than the likes of Turkey (2.9 million) Jordan (700 thousand), Lebanon (1 million), who did not refrain opening their arms to their fellow neighbours to protect them.
The reason why the Gulf countries did not follow is due to local Middle East conflict and issues.
“Why should we butt into another country’s affairs? Please solve the issues in our backyard first!”
America is a country with huge and far reaching influence in this world. This is not an American issue, it is a global one with significant global repercussions. We have already seen Iran retaliating with a reverse ban. Do we really want a war of religions to escalate globally and spirit of hatred towards others seething in this world?
What if the Americans had same the same about the Jews in Nazi Germany? It’s a German problem. Let’s take care of our issues in our backyard first. And not help fight the war in Europe. When injustices happen anywhere in this world, it is our moral duty has citizens of this world to speak out. Be it on our soil or abroad.
Most of us applauded when the US Department of Justice (DOJ) took action to seek to recover US1 billion obtained from corruption in Malaysia. What if Americans had said the DOJ shouldn’t waste time on another country and take care of issues in America first? Would we want that?
That is how we protect fellow humans in other parts of this world from injustices, when we make a stand. Despite being from different sides of the border. We should condemn the suffering in Syria, the persecution by Rohingya in Myanmar and likewise the injustices currently in the US.
It should be our moral duty to do so to look out for fellow humans in this world from any form of injustices. Let us not ever be silent in condemning any form of discrimination and injustice.
LEE EE MAY is Selangor DAP Socialist Youth (Dapsy) vice-chairperson.