A Clash Of The Uncivilised: Trump, Muslim Profiling And The Far-Right’s Assault

Maryam Namazie on Donald Trump's Muslim Ban. First published in The Freethinker.

Donald Trump’s suspension of new refugee admissions for 120 days and the barring of nationals from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia for 90 days (likely to be extended) is fundamentally about a far-Right restructuring of US society under the guise of “stopping terrorism” and defending “western civilisation” whilst hiding behind “acceptable” bigotry against migrants and Muslims.

It’s similar to the rise of Islamism and its far-Right restructuring of many societies in the Middle East and elsewhere under the guise of stopping “imperialism” and defending “Islamic civilisation” whilst hiding behind the industry of offence and “Islamophobia”.

Despite its packaging of counter-terrorism and border protection, the rise of far-Right politics is part and parcel of the well-wrought assault on the fundamental rights of people in the US and Europe where policies imposed on the “other” are now being opnely imposed right here at home.

The assault on women’s and reproductive rights, refugee rights, citizenship rights, welfare, health services, environment, education, legal aid, human rights, freedom of expression, freedom of the press, freedoms to strike and organisation… as well as the increasing privatisation and commercialisation of – well just about everything – are the real stories here.

The aims of the Islamists, Trump and Brexit are to dismantle citizenship rights, further lower living standards, and impose additional austerity measures whilst removing remaining constraints on capitalism. The sacred (be it religion, national borders, identity or culture) is used to manage and control dissent, vilify and eventually criminalise those deemed different.

As is always the case, the first lines of attack are women and the most vulnerable in society.

The advance of the far-Right has depended in large part on the normalisation of their narrative, which includes cultural relativism; homogenisation of entire communities and societies;  limiting free expression; legitimising violence; feigning persecution; blaming the victim; reliance on religion, misogyny, homophobia and anti-Semitism; criminalisation of the other; subversion of the truth; use of threats and scaremongering; and identity politics.

The answer to this calamity is not strengthening one far-Right over the other.

Wearing hijabs at protests or continuing to have the Muslim Council of Britain or Linda Sarsour as the “authentic” representatives of the fight-back plays into the Islamist narrative just as defending Muslim profiling, calling for the prioritisation of Christian refugees and promoting Trump or Brexit as the “authentic” voice of the disillusioned plays into the hands of the Christian-Right.

Siding with either legitimises the subversion of truth and the politics of hate and fear. It helps them, wittingly or unwittingly, in their clash of the uncivilised at the expense of us all, across borders and boundaries, real or imagined.

The principled response to the rise of the far-Right and regressive identity politics has to be one that defends humanity – all of it – irrespective of beliefs, immigration status, race, gender, nationality and sexuality.

Defending the equal rights of those who do not think or look like you, an insistence on universalism, an unequivocal defence of secularism and civil rights as well as welfare before profit are important starting points. The magnificent protests at US airports in support of migrants and refugees are a great case in point.

Today, more than ever, we need a politics that puts truth and the human being at the centre – not religion, nationality, race, gender or migration status.

A politics that starts and ends with our common humanity.

A politics that breaks, not builds, walls.

A few points on profiling

“Muslim” profiling has now been imposed by Donald Trump via an Executive Order with its brutal consequences unfolding before our very eyes. Revisiting the main reasons one must oppose it as I had previously discussed in Sam Harris’ Waking Up podcast is a matter of urgency. (The full transcript of the podcast, including small sections that had been edited from the aired podcast, is available here.)

According to New America, every jihadist who conducted a lethal attack inside the United States since 9/11 was a citizen or legal resident. A quarter are converts. 15 of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi nationals whilst others were from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Lebanon.  What this evidence makes very clear is that the issue of terrorism is not linked to migration status.

Moreover, whilst certain regimes like the Iranian or Saudi regimes are the perpetrators of terrorism, there is a distinction between regimes and the nationals of those countries.

Also, blaming every Iranian or Muslim for the crimes of Islamist terrorists is like blaming all whites or Christians or Americans for those killed by white supremacists.

Whatever the nationality, immigration status or belief of the perpetrators, it is unjust to hold entire populations collectively responsible for the homicide and mass murder committed by individuals.

Whilst still very imperfect, fairer justice systems have developed somewhat to move away from collective retribution and revenge to individual accountability for crimes committed. Trump’s Executive Orders blame masses of people whose only “crime” has been to be born in a specific geography or have certain religious beliefs, real or imputed.

It is important to note that since 9/11 more people have been killed in the US by white supremacists than Islamists. Based on Trump’s logic, should white Christians be placed on registries, targeted and banned en mass or should those who have committed the actual killings be prosecuted?

The homogenisation of entire societies and countless refugees denies plurality and diversity amongst those labelled Muslims. Don’t forget, there is a tsunami of atheism in many countries under Islamic rule, other religious minorities, and many who don’t consider religion to be the most important marker that defines them. Also, no one understands the need for secularism better than those living under the boot of the religious-Right. Clearly, just because someone is white or Christian doesn’t make them a white supremacist that will go on to murder innocent people praying at a mosque; the same applies to Muslims or Iranian, Iraqi or Somali nationals.

More importantly, scapegoating Muslims and migrants conveniently ignores the US’ role in perpetrating terrorism globally, including via its militarism or ongoing support of states like Turkey’s Erdogan and the Saudi regime.

As many security experts will attest, racial or ethnic profiling just doesn’t work; behavioural profiling does, as does targeting the far-Right white supremacist or Islamist groups rather than white people or Muslims or migrants. The reality is that most of the terrorists who have carried out attacks are already known to the authorities in various countries because of their links with groups that promote terrorism.

Of course in the post-truth era, facts don’t matter. The far-Right needs scapegoats in order to whip up populist hysteria against the most vulnerable so it can go ahead with its assault on people’s lives and rights.

Eventually they will come for you. And the only way to stop them is to fight for those they come for first.  El Pueblo Unido Jamás Será Vencido.


  1. "Also, blaming every Iranian or Muslim for the crimes of Islamist terrorists is like blaming all whites or Christians or Americans for those killed by white supremacists."

    This analogy runs throughout the piece and doesnt hold true. Being white isnt an ideology, and isnt on a spectrum with white supremicism.
    Islamist is a made up word, if Mohammed were alive today he would be called an Islamist.
    He lived 13 years in Mecca as exclusively a religious person,and when he was expelled to Medina he left with 150 followers. There he became a warlord and politician,and in the next ten years he averaged a jihad event every six weeks. By the time he died he had converted all of the Hijaz (Central Arabia , about 100,000 people). And these distinct periods are reflected in the Koran, verses written in Mecca are peaceful, verses written in Medina are the 'problematic' ones, and these abrograte the earlier ones (which in this context means replacing that which is good with something that is better).
    Muslims are on this spectrum, but terror isnt the primary issue, its Sharia Law,which for example has different strata's of protections/penalties depending on ones social status.

  2. Forgot to add, by volume,Islam (the Koran,Sura,Hadith) is 85% Mohammed, and 15 % God type stuff. Before any ban or further discussion of Islam, id actually have some compulsory reading of the source material, not listening to intermediaries (myself inlcuded).

  3. Daithi D,

    blaming every Iranian or Muslim for the crimes of Islamist terrorists is like blaming all whites or Christians or Americans for those killed by white supremacists is a very true statement.

    Blaming an entire group of people for actions they did not take nor were responsible for is wholly wrong.

    Being Iranian is not an ideology. Nor is being from a Muslim country. Trump is not saying that atheists from Muslim countries should be allowed in and believers banned.

  4. AM, I know this. This article is replete with similar propositions. Others have Christianity/KKK references. There will be overlap, but one is not a subset of the other, Jihad attacks are part of Islam, as is Sharia. If you claim to subscribe to an Ideology, then others are entitles to draw inference on that. Im concerned with exegesis, not herd phenomena ascribed to Islam.

  5. DaithiD,

    it is not possible to understand the KKK outside the context of Christianity.

    Jihad is as much a part of Islam as genocide and child murder is a part of Christianity. Advocates of both can point to something somewhere in their holy books that will justify. What Trump does is wholly egregious.

  6. AM, I trust you are following what is going on at US university campuses at present? Its not just a matter for believers of each faith. There are no Uni departments pushing a KKK ideology, like there are with Sharia apologists. You are an outlier in even admitting there is a problem (you know this already) even if you equivocate when doing so. I dont agree Trumps approach but the best way to prevent things like this is to allow the free exchange of ideas, and not to language police, and threaten people into deferring this power to their rulers. Trump cannot be understood without this context.

  7. DaithiD,

    I have not been following what is going on in the US universities.

    I did follow what was going on in the US education system a few years back where there was a sustained Christian attempt to undermine science by smuggling a religious model called Intelligent Design into the classroom. Attempts are being made all the time by Christians to corrupt education.

    I doubt I equivocate. I instead avoid being a bigot, able to see the problem with the other invisble man's religion but not my invisible man's religion.

  8. Why should someone be an expert on every system to make a comment on one? Im not saying Sharia is uniquely bad. And it seems this in effect a way of silencing people indirectly, I need to learn the Torah too before I comment on the thousands of Hadiths I have read? Sorry, I dont have the time to allocate.
    I doubt most self described Muslims have read as much Islamic scripture as I If men and women are treated differently under law, and believers and non-believers have different contracts with the state, this is clearly discriminatory. This is not even a religious concept, its the basis of civilisation. Yet in all this, I still would recognise you have gone further publicly than I ever would by being a proprietor who published the Danish cartoons, with all its associated risks.

  9. DaithiD,

    don't see who has told you that you need to be an expert.

    It is not the purpose to silence people but to show their discourse as wholly inconsistent. A bit like Adams calling Kenny a liar. Adams might be right but how much weight can his assertion carry? Should Adams's comment not prompt derision even though it is right?

  10. Adams is fastidious student of lying, who seeks out all its subtle intricacies mere lay people never imagined. If he were call Kenny a liar, I could only assume he was lying, so jealously does he guard the word.

  11. Trump to me and especially with his ban on certain Shi'ite Muslim countries is a political action that is preparing the world for a war yet to come....nothing to do with Muslims in general but all to do with Iran....conditioning the American psych for the coming war....the problem he has is that he is quite uncouth in his application and that is down to the fact that he is a business man and not a political like Obama was....now there was a politican who could garner support for all his military exploits and yet he has more blood on his hands than Trump.

  12. Niall, even more interesting is the civil war going on the in US security services,briefing against their non-preferred presidential candidates, the CIA against Trump in office, now wikileaks releases info on the CIA's involvement in the 2012 French presidential elections. Now wikileaks are claiming to have information about the CIA involvement in 9/11, I suspect a war with Iran might become a welcome distraction from this infighting for them. That is very worrying indeed.

  13. She's out of date in her stats. The article she refers to gives: 94 Jihadist; 50 Right Wing; 5 Left Wing after 9/11 to 2016.

    Jihadists are a real threat to the American population, not merely in the likelihood of attacks similar to those already achieved, but especially in view to improving technical skills in real mass-destruction abilities. It makes sense to vet all who come into the US. I don't know why Trump used Obama's list of nations - why not just say he was vetting everybody? Those easily vetted by shared security information - say from Ireland or the UK - could be through in hours. Those without would have to wait until their security clearance could be obtained.

  14. Wow. The latest wikileaks show this civil war is getting hot, America wont be the same after this, you wouldnt know it from todays rather muted coverage in the papers.