The notion of a ban was first introduced by Trump early in his 2016 presidential campaign, when it was marketed explicitly as a prohibition on all Muslimsentering the United States. After Trump was elected, he instated a ban targeting travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries, prompting chaos in airports and inside the government. Later, the Trump administration began referring to the policy more antiseptically as a “travel ban,” modifying it to include restrictions on some non-Muslim countries like Venezuela and North Korea.
Yet in his speech in Iowa last weekend, Trump made very clear that the target of his policy would be Muslims, conflating Islam with terrorism and extremism. “Under the Trump administration, we imposed extreme vetting and put on a powerful travel ban to keep radical Islamic terrorists and jihadists out of our country,” Trump told the audience to applause.
Trump’s statements highlight an awkward contradiction. On one hand, some Muslim Americans, bound by a shared commitment to conservative social values, are enjoying a period of warm relations with the Republican Party and conservative activists who share their opposition to LGBTQ+ education in schools. At the same time, the wildly popular leading Republican presidential candidate — and the center of gravity in the party — is publicly vowing to revive a policy aimed at curtailing the presence of Muslims in the U.S. entirely.
“This will be a challenging moment for the Muslim community, but I do believe that the issue of LGBT education in schools will become a wedge issue,” said Ani Zonneveld, president of Muslims for Progressive Values, a progressive human rights organization. “On a state and local level, many conservative Muslim voters will likely vote for candidates who are anti-LGBT, which will mean mostly Republicans, while on a national level, the same people may choose to vote for a Democrat.”
In one sign of warming relations between Muslims and the Republican Party, major Islamic civil rights organizations have spoken out in support of the recent GOP-supported protests aimed at letting parents opt their children out of LGBTQ+ readings in schools. The Council on American-Islamic Relations has been among the most vocal, collecting hundreds of signatures to demand that parents be allowed to remove their children from gender- and sex-based courses.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION:
1. How do you view the balance between religious freedom, such as opposition to LGBTQ+ education in schools, and the principles of tolerance and inclusion for all individuals, including the LGBTQ+ community?
2. What impact do you think political leaders’ statements and policies, like the travel ban and comments by former President Trump, have on the perception of the Muslim community in the United States and their relationship with the Republican Party?
3. Can there be a middle ground where individuals with strong religious beliefs can coexist with those advocating for LGBTQ+ rights in education? How can this balance be achieved?