Following the attacks in Southern California, Donald Trump, one of the declared 2016 Republican Presidential candidates, demanded a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States" and stirred reactions both in and out of the country with his controversial remarks. With his statement, Trump has been defined as "dangerous" and "divisive" by many voters of his own party, by Democrats, by the United Nations, the Muslim leaders and other leaders. While the White House stated that Trump has single -handedly disqualified himself from serving as a president with such a suggestion, former US Vice President Dick Cheney said Trump's plan "goes against everything we stand for and believe in."
This statement of Trump, which also stirred an intense reaction among the American people, became the target of criticisms also in the media based on the grounds that it is in strict conflict with the American constitution and values. Non-governmental organizations made statements reprimanding Trump. On the other hand, a poll organized by the NBC and WSJ shows that Americans, by a 2-to-1 margin, have a favorable opinion of Muslims, despite the tense atmosphere in the country.
Another reaction to Donald Trump came from an American Muslim, Marwa Balkar. The young girl's Facebook post made a tremendous impression around the world. In her post, she says "Dear @realdonaldtrump, My name is Marwa, and I am a Muslim. I heard you wanted us to start wearing ID badges, so I decided to choose one for myself. I am not easily identifiable as a #Muslim just by looking at me, so my new badge will let me display proudly who I am. I chose the peace sign because it represents my #Islam. The one that taught me to oppose #injustice and yearn for #unity. The one that taught me that killing one innocent life is equivalent to killing humanity."
In an interview she gave to CNN, Marwa expressed her reactions saying, "I was born and raised in this country. There is nothing different about me than the person that sits next to me on the bus or in my class, or the co-worker that I work with. We are all Americans, it doesn't matter what our religious beliefs are."
Rashida Tlaib, a Democratic member of the Michigan House of Representatives, criticized Donald Trump's proposal with the following words, "It dehumanizes us when you start talking about a database of Americans that are Muslims, when you talk about targeting someone solely based on their faith, you are making them less equal to you."
Just as Rashida Tlaib stated, such prejudiced and discriminatory statements dictate that the targeted groups are not a part of society and cause them to feel alienated. Hate speech is the next loop in the prejudice and discrimination chain and it possesses completely destructive characteristics that instigate prejudices, intolerance and hostility. It poisons mutual love and respect among the individuals of a society and causes an increase in acts of terror and violence which would render those uttering such statements responsible of a grave sin. In any society in which hatred thrives, acts of terror and violence would inevitably occur and undoubtedly innocent, ordinary people would be those most affected and harmed by those incidents.
It is of course true that radical terrorist acts, which went to the top of the agenda and were defined falsely as 'Islamic terror' especially after the 9/11 attacks, disturb the whole world, primarily the US and Europe, and push societies into a fiercely defensive mode. However the method that should be followed against that threat is not to respond to violence with violence but to work for intellectually annihilating the false opinions that serve as the foundation to that hatred and violence. Consequently, what should be done to stop terror is not to alienate all Muslims by regarding them all as potential criminals like Donald Trump did, but to take into consideration that there might be radicals among the members of each and every society - and indeed, every religion - and to make clear the great differences between the real Islam and radicalism, which possesses an outlandish understanding that although is far removed from the essence of Islam, appears in the name of Islam, by proving that the values those radicals advocate are in blatant conflict with the Qur'an.
Regarding all Muslims as responsible for the inhumane acts of radical terror organizations or alienating them by violating their personal rights, is not only unjust but also incapable of bringing a solution to any of the problems. Such initiatives would, on the contrary, provoke violence, increase polarization and escalate conflicts and disputes. Advocating discrimination and hatred, especially when done by politicians, causes very dangerous results. The ECHR (European Court of Human Rights) is one of those institutions supporting this fact. The ECHR states that politicians have the responsibility to avoid using language that would instigate intolerance, and subject politicians to extensive evaluation on this matter. Jean- Marie Le Pen, who was fined EUR 10,000 by the ECHR for incitement to "discrimination", "hatred" and "violence" because of a statement he made in an interview with the Le Monde daily newspaper in 2003, saying "the day there are no longer 5 million but 25 million Muslims in France, they will be in charge" is an example for the ECHR's approach on regarding such words as "alienating" and "instigating feelings of hatred."
The best and the most accurate method to prevent the radical terror that the whole world is suffering from is to implement an educational policy that would abolish the perverted understanding of religion that the radicals have developed in line with false hadiths and superstitions, with the purest form of Islam that is found in the Qur'an. In this respect, both Donald Trump and all other politicians in the world should strictly avoid statements which would prepare the basis of violence and terror, and understand that this so-called “Islamic" radical terrorism can only be annihilated with the Qur'an, the sole reference book of Islam. It is crucial for the whole world to focus on the importance of unity against terror. What is expected from Mr. Donald Trump is to take initiatives and make statements that would bring forth love, peace, unity and togetherness rather than those instigating discrimination, prejudices and hatred.
Adnan Oktar's piece on China Post: