On the 74th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump dropped what the London Daily Telegraph called a “bombshell” when he announced that if elected president of the United States, he would implement a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
Trump’s campaign manager at the time Corey Lewandowski explained that Trump’s proposed ban would apply to “everybody,” including Muslims seeking immigrant visas as well as tourists seeking to enter the country. The ban would even apply to American Muslims who are currently overseas – presumably including members of the military and diplomatic service, another Trump staffer added.
Trump’s proposed Muslim ban drew outrage from leaders in Asia who warned that Trump was feeding Islamic State propaganda that depicted a grand war between Islam and the West.
“By uttering such a hate-spreading statement, Donald Trump has committed a crime by indirectly helping the cause of so-called global Islamist militants such as Islamic State,” the chairman of the Jamiatul Ulama Bangladesh, an Islamic scholars council, told the press.
In Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, Zuhairi Misrawi, an Islamic scholar from Muslim organization Nahdlatul Ulama, said the call was “a step backwards” for America. “We previously regarded America as a role model for democracy, equality, peace and justice,” he said.
But there was no outcry from Philippine officials or civil society that this bigoted policy would harm the 15 percent of the Philippine population that is Muslim. Were Filipino Christians willing to throw their Muslim brothers and sisters under the Trump bus?
Even the Filipino American community remained painfully silent on this issue. I confess that I too did not denounce Trump and his xenophobic bigotry in my columns published in the US and in the Philippines. Mea culpa. I was content to just posting my revulsion with Trump in my Facebook page.
Trump’s proposed Muslim ban relies on a US law that grants the president the authority to issue executive orders to prevent the entry of any class of people who would be considered “detrimental to the interests of the United States.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) pointed out that it was Trump’s comments that were “hurting the war effort (against ISIS) and putting our diplomats and soldiers serving in the Middle East at risk. The way to win this war is to reach to the vast majority of people of Islamic faith who reject ISIS and provide them the capability to resist this ideology.”
Perhaps in response to severe criticism from fellow Republicans about his religious intolerance, Trump ‘”modified” his position so it would not expressly ban Muslims simply because of their faith. In his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention on July 21, Trump announced that he was now calling to ban immigration from countries “compromised by terrorism.”
“We must immediately suspend immigration from any nation that has been compromised by terrorism until such time as proven vetting mechanisms have been put in place,” Trump said. “We don’t want them in our country.”
Guess which country in Southeast Asia has been “compromised by terrorism”?
Aside from Indonesia, with its Jemaah Islamiyah terrorists who carried out the Bali bombing, the Philippines would also be high on the list with its own homegrown terrorists, Abu Sayyaf, which is based in Mindanao. They have waged a brutal campaign of bombings, kidnappings and assassinations, killing Filipinos and foreign nationals since their founding in 1991, as an offshoot of the Moro National Liberation Front. In 2004, they claimed responsibility for the bombing of Superferry 14 killing 116 Filipinos.
In 2014, the Abu Sayyaf terrorists led by Isnilon Totoni Hapilon have pledged their loyalty to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS. Since then, they have been kidnapping foreigners for ransom and mercilessly beheading them if their demands are not met.
So Filipinos don’t even have to be Muslim to now be barred from entry as long as the Philippines is deemed a country “compromised by terrorism.” The rest of the Philippines would now be included along with the 15 percent Muslim that would be thrown under the Trump bus. United at last.
Just in case this point was not crystal clear enough, Trump doubled down on his meaning in a speech he delivered in Portland, Maine on August 4 where he specifically included the Philippines in a list of “terrorist nations” from where people should be denied entry to the United States.
“We are letting people come in from terrorist nations that shouldn’t be allowed because you can’t vet them. You have no idea who they are. This could be the great Trojan horse of all time,” he said at the Maine rally.
“We are dealing with animals,” he said.
Senator Nerissa Bretania Underwood (D-Guam), a Filipina American non-voting legislator in the US Senate, was quick to criticize Trump: “Filipinos on our island and across the country serve in uniform, in our hospitals, in our schools and across every private and public sector. Filipinos are also beloved members of our families and communities. As a proud daughter from Iloilo in the Philippines, I am a grateful adopted daughter of Guam and horrified by Mr. Trump’s statement and the leaders who have chosen to support him. Hate, fear and division are not qualities we need in the U.S. President and should give Americans across the country concern on whether a Trump administration is fit to lead our country.”
“Filipinos are an integral part of our community, and I denounce these recent ridiculous comments. We cannot and we will not ban immigration from the Philippines, a long-time ally and important partner in combating global terrorism. It won’t make us safer and his proposal is simply un-American,” Sen. Underwood added.
When pressed by Meet the Press TV host Chuck Todd about whether his ban on immigration from countries “compromised by terrorism” would include countries like France and Belgium which have suffered terrorist attacks in recent years, Trump replied, “It’s their own fault, because they’ve allowed people over years to come into their territory.”
As to why Filipinos should all be faulted for the terrorist acts of a few, Trump would say, “It’s their fault, they’ve allowed (Muslims) over the years to come into their territory.” What Trump does not realize is that Muslims have been living in the Philippines since even before the Spaniards came. In fact, Manila was a Muslim settlement under Rajah Soliman (Suleyman) when the Spaniards invaded it in 1565.
So if Trump wins, the door to immigrating or visiting the US will be closed to Filipinos. Even to those who have Republican relatives in the US who voted for Trump.
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