The mainstreaming of Islamophobia on both the Democratic and Republican sides of the ballot leaves many Muslims in a confusing place about who to vote for this presidential election.
Last Wednesday, the fact that billionaire and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg was a primetime speaker at the Democratic National Convention proves that the Hillary Clinton campaign cannot necessarily be trusted to offer any better support for Muslims than her GOP opponent, Donald Trump.
Judging from interviews with several Democratic Muslim delegates who attended the convention, The Intercept reported that their general attitude was that Bloomberg should only have been allowed to speak if he apologized for his surveillance campaign. During Bloomberg’s tenure as mayor, he supported a New York Police Department program which spied on local Muslims in and within 100 miles of New York City in their neighborhoods, student organizations, charities, and masjids.
An official from the Muslim American Society, Mazen Mokhtar, said that “Either he should not be allowed to speak, or if he speaks he should apologize for it.”
Linda Sarsour, a New York delegate for Bernie Sanders, pointed out the apparent hypocrisy within the left-leaning party which criticized Ted Cruz for his proposition to start a widespread surveillance project of Muslims in the United States.
She said, “Bloomberg allowed and justified wholesale surveillance of Muslims under his watch… How can we be mad at Cruz, but then give a platform to a former mayor of a city that targeted Muslims for their faith?”
The fact that former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg was a primetime speaker at the DNC proves that the Clinton campaign cannot necessarily be trusted to offer any better support for Muslims than her GOP opponent, Donald Trump.
Most notable for voters, perhaps, was the sentiment that Bloomberg’s invitation to speak may signal a dark future for Muslims under a hypothetical President Clinton. Delegates hinted at the notion that she could launch her own surveillance program which would socially profile Muslims. Imam Suetwidien Muhammad of the Muslim League of Voters of New Jersey said, “So what does that tell you? Hillary might do the same thing.”
Bloomberg stood by a profiling system which used so-called “radicalization indicators” as excuses to spy on Muslims. These indicators for suspicion among the NYPD’s intelligence division included making suspects out of Muslims who were going about their usual business of wearing hijab to having a beard to not drinking. The program lasted from 2007 until 2014, when then-Mayor Bill de Blasio ended the NYPD operation.
As law professor Khaled Beydoun recently noted in Al Jazeera, Clinton isn’t exactly popular among Muslims who don’t appreciate her hawkish war-mongering in Muslim countries, staunch support of Israeli policies, and domestic support for the U.S. Patriot Act among other anti-terror programs which use social profiling.
When her husband Bill tried to appease the vote of Muslim Americans by basing their value in the U.S. on how they view terrorism, he failed miserably.
Bloomberg’s role at the DNC was probably not a direct insult towards Muslim Americans, but just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean it wasn’t.
Contributed by Carol Khan.