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Bermuda’s Muslims criticise Trump

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Bermuda's Muslim community have highlighted the implications of Donald Trump becoming the next president of the United States.

Within two weeks, the leading Republican candidate suggested an increase in firearms, legislation requiring Muslims to carry identification and a proposed ban on Muslims entering America.

But his extreme remarks could be strategic, they believe.

Aziza Ahad Furbert said many Americans have limited exposure to other cultures, adding: “It's very easy to fear what you don't know.”

Many members of Bermuda's Muslim community were once Christians — they converted in the 1970s, after the Wallace D. Muhammad movement. As a result, all of their families were and are Christian, providing a compassionate crossover.

“In Bermuda, the Muslim community is a little more assimilated than they are in the States, which will help prevent some of that paranoia,” Mrs Ahad Furbert said.

“We do, of course, have some expats that come from Muslim countries, but a lot of them are actually Bermudian.

“The United States is obviously a super power in the world — politically, economically, militarily — and with someone like Donald Trump at the helm, it could be catastrophic globally.

“There are people who are supporting him, but you have to look at it in context. I don't think that his views are reflective of Americans as a whole.”

The hyperbole about Muslims has become ubiquitous in the news and social media and has fuelled violence, vandalism and discrimination.

Mrs Ahad Furbert said: “Mainly the people that are going to be targeted are going to be women because they're the ones who are visibly Muslim.

“The more out there, the more coverage [Trump] gets. His particular brand of hate is spreading.”

While the policies he suggests may be deemed hateful, they are hateful by design, she added.

“It's just a strategy,” she said. “If you create enough fear then it's easier to manipulate people.”

A petition proposing to ban Mr Trump from Britain has now has garnered more than 500,000 signatures.

The White House wants to disqualify him from serving as president and members of the Republican party are now distancing themselves from him.

But many have said that discussion only contributes to his popularity.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Bermuda has condemned the acts of terrorism “carried out by individuals who call themselves Muslims”.

Shabnam Jheengoor, a spokeswoman for the group, said: “These terrorists attribute their actions to the Islamic jihad. They believe that jihad is a holy war waged against non-Muslims.

“The true concept of jihad refers to the purification of self and to strive in a noble way. It has nothing to do with violence and chaos.

“The jihad put forward by terrorist groups is absolutely contrary to Islamic teachings and values.

“It is regrettable that some media outlets choose to ignore the voice of moderation and peace of millions of Muslims around the world and choose to focus on the minority who have hijacked and distorted Islamic teachings.

“Media coverage of issues often influences public opinions, therefore it is imperative that the media gives ample coverage to the numerous campaigns that Muslims organise to counter hate and terror.”

Mrs Jheengoor believes this would decrease “Islamophobia” and prevent the demonisation of Muslim communities.

“Donald Trump has made some terribly appalling suggestions regarding Muslims,” she said.

“He has painted all Muslims as hate-filled, cruel individuals, and Islam as a dangerous faith.”

She said those in positions of power or high-profile individuals should engage with Muslims about their faith.

“Will bans, boycotts and discrimination against Muslims bring peace?” she asked. “Or will it cause more individuals to become alienated and to end up joining terrorist groups who will undoubtedly welcome them warmly?

“There is no doubt that Mr Trump's proposals are morally wrong, unconstitutional and ridiculous. Considering the paranoid and hate-filled proposals of Mr Trump, it is hoped that the American public will stick to the higher values of justice and honesty and refuse to support such divisive rhetoric.

“Faith communities in Bermuda and elsewhere should stand united against such ‘divide and conquer' strategies and statements.

“The conflict is between peace-loving individuals and terrorists and not between Islam and other faiths.”

Raising concerns: Aziza Ahad Furbert fears Donald Trump's “brand of hate is spreading” (File photograph)
Sparking anger: Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump (Photograph by Mic Smith/AP)

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Published December 14, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated December 14, 2015 at 2:58 pm)

Bermuda’s Muslims criticise Trump

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