US Elections 2016, the day after: US-Asia ties under Trump

Muslim world worries about rising tensions

CAIRO • Many Muslims around the world have expressed dismay at Mr Donald Trump's election as US president, saying they feared that it might raise tensions between the West and Islam, and contribute to radicalisation.

While Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi made an early congratulatory call to Mr Trump, ordinary Muslims were worried that his victory would be a propaganda gift to militant groups. Others were apprehensive that he would implement campaign pledges to clamp down on Muslims entering the United States.

"Trump has espoused highly inflammatory rhetoric against Muslims. Voters there will expect him to fulfil his promises. That makes me worry about the impact on Muslims in the US and in the rest of the world," said Ms Yenny Wahid, a prominent mainstream Muslim figure in Indonesia. There are some 1.6 billion Muslims in the world.

Mr Trump's previous comments about Muslims - saying that those from abroad should be barred entry into the US or intensely scrutinised beforehand - and the presence of vocal anti-Islam activists among his supporters have alarmed many.

During a bitter election campaign, he said the threat posed by militant Islam was "coming to our shores", adding that he would quickly form a commission on it.

 

The Egyptian President was the first world leader to congratulate him on the phone, a welcome echoed by some other Arabs who disliked defeated candidate Hillary Clinton's Middle East policies.

But some Muslims feared that a Trump presidency might encourage a view that the US was hostile to Muslims and that this would hinder efforts to counter radicalisation.

"Trump's victory will be an enormous gift to a failing jihadist movement, that will now have a renewed rallying cry," Mr Ammar Rashid, a member of Pakistan's Awami Workers Party, tweeted. "If jihadi ideology has a source of sustenance, it is the image of the US as the evil anti-Muslim crusader. They will milk Trump's win dry."

But some other Muslims were more hopeful. Former Afghan interior minister Umer Daudzai cited the late Ronald Reagan, who was president from 1981-1989. "Ronald Reagan ended the Cold War. I hope Donald Trump will end all wars and become a hero of peace in the world."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 11, 2016, with the headline 'Muslim world worries about rising tensions'. Print Edition | Subscribe