We are smug in the assumption that despite all the rhetoric coming out of the debates in the US, the saner and sensible candidate will finally win. After all, that’s how it has worked in the past as well, with possibly a few exceptions.
While the pundits are predicting that Trump will finally bow out of the US elections, for Muslims that is not the real issue. Trump has caused a stir with his remarks. Narendra Modi also became the prime minister of the world’s largest democracy though a platform of hatred to rile up the voters.
So far, much of what Trump has said has been condemned by most. There are those with whom his statements have found favour. After all, the attacks do not seem to have abated and there is growing frustration. Polls indicate that people have lesser faith in their government’s ability to check home-grown terrorism.
While President Obama has said all the right things regarding Syrian refugees, what we are seeing is that the states have not all gone with his sentiments. There is a growing wariness with Muslim immigration.
Credit goes to the right-minded people of the US who have stood against acts of violence against the Muslim community. But one cannot discount the element of resentment that is brewing.
One cannot deny the fact that a number of terrorist attacks have been conducted or planned by Muslims. We can always share statistics that suggest that it is not only Muslims who have been involved in such acts. The public perception of the Muslim community, thanks to a media that is already antagonistic, continues to be negative.
The community for its part is not one single entity and that is why its response has also been varied. Most Arab-Asian Muslim communities in the US tend to focus their activities around the local mosque and do very little to reach out to others. There has been little Muslim philanthropy funding community activities and many of the followers have remained inward looking.
The African-American Muslim community, of course, is a totally different entity altogether. There is rarely any interaction between the two.
Without claiming to be an expert on the Muslim community in the US, one can see that there are tough times ahead. The local leadership is not geared to take on the challenge. As is the case in many such instances, there are divisions and disputes that hinder any collective voice on a national level.
More worrisome is that there is no effort within the community to debate where things are going wrong. How are right-minded, middle class educated Muslims becoming radicalised?
Muslims have not questioned the activities and teachings of some entities in the US that promote sectarian hatred as well as a general rejection of Western values and beliefs. These entities continue to thrive in the West and their followers are not checked.
Regardless of whether Trump comes to power or Clinton, the Muslims of the US need to start talking to both themselves and to others around them. Many Muslims have only co-religionists in their social circles. Others reject many of the values which actually brought them to this country in the first place.
For Muslims of Pakistani origin, it is time to cut the proverbial umbilical cord with their country of origin and become Americans. Forget about politics in Pakistan and what was reported on the Pakistani channels, or who is corrupt and whether the army is the solution. This is not your issue any more. Worry about Donald Trump and your non-Muslim neighbours instead.
While some say the problem lies in the new generation, the solution also lies with them. It is time the America-born new generation of Muslims took up the reins of leadership. They should decide how to take things forward.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 21st, 2015.