Editorial: Now It’s the Muslims’ Turn

The Republican presidential debate has a new scapegoat aside from immigrants.

The Republican presidential primary has become known for its hatred of diversity, whether ethnic or racial — as in the case with immigrants — or religious, as is now happening with Muslims. The recent statements made by a Donald Trump supporter saying that Obama is a Muslim and that there are terrorist training camps in U.S. soil brought the anti-Islamic paranoia of the GOP base to the forefront.

The 9/11 terrorist attacks marked the beginning of a rejection of all things Arab and Muslim, as if al-Qaeda and ISIL were representing the hundreds of millions of people who practice this religion around the world. The electoral victory of Barack Hussein Obama, the first black president of the U.S., triggered the creation of the Tea Party, whose sympathizers accused the new president of being a Nazi or a Communist, and refused to accept that that he was born in the U.S. and is Christian.

In 2011, Trump led the movement that questioned Obama’s citizenship, while the establishment stood silently by as they expected to score a political victory from the allegations.

Today, 43% of Republicans believe that Obama is a Muslim. Among conservatives, the figure reaches 45%, and 47% among Tea Party supporters. Meanwhile, the conservative media reports twisted versions of events from 30 or 40 years ago in order to create the fantasy that dozens of terrorist training camps exist in the U.S.

The effects of this climate was recently felt in Irving, Texas, where a dark-skinned Muslim student was arrested after his school, as well as the police, thought that the homemade clock he had built was a bomb. This would not have happened had the teenager been white and if the local Republican authorities did not consider their Muslim community suspicious.

As with immigration, Trump’s critics have been lukewarm when the millionaire has allowed the use of the word Muslim as an insult. The fear of contradicting a xenophobic base persists. Moreover, candidate Ben Carson said that being Muslim and holding the U.S. presidency are incompatible even though there is no legal impediment for this combination.

The prejudiced point of view of the Republican base and their candidates is reprehensible in our diverse society.