At the second presidential election debate of 2016 on Sunday, the candidates were asked what they would do to help Muslim Americans deal with being labeled as threats to the country as a result of rising Islamophobia in the wake of recent terrorist attacks. Neither had much to say that Muslims could have found very encouraging.
“We have to be sure that Muslims come in and report when they see something going on,” said Republican nominee Donald Trump, before discussing last year’s shooting in San Bernardino. “Muslims have to report the problems when they see them,” Trump restated a few moments later.
Although 31-year-old Gorbah Hamed, who asked the question, said that Clinton had an answer that was “better,” she still could not support the former secretary of state. “We need American Muslims to be our eyes and ears on the front lines,” Clinton said as part of her response to the question, which seemed to echo Trump’s hawkish tone and suggestion that American Muslims have some kind of added duty to monitor their communities and inform on one another to the authorities.
Hamed, who is of Palestinian descent, said that Trump’s answer to her question was really something more “kind of like an accusation,” but she also can’t support Clinton because “Hillary stands solely with Israel.”
The Washington Post was quick to point out that the Federal Bureau of Investigation, for one, does not believe there is a problem with American Muslim communities failing to inform on jihadists in their midst. Some of the FBI’s “most productive relationships are with people who see things and tell us things who happen to be Muslim,” Director James Comey reportedly said this summer.
Vague anecdotes from the FBI director aren’t necessary, however, when evidence is as abundant as it was on Monday that law-abiding, moderate Muslims living in the West are the last people who want to see jihadists successfully carrying out attacks. The day after the debate, in Leipzig, Germany, a would-be ISIS suicide bomber was reportedly stopped with critical help from three Syrian refugees.
“The three Syrians who turned in (the alleged jihadist) met him at Leipzig train station at about noon on Saturday, where they said they had found him exhausted, upset and dishevelled,” the Guardian reports. “They offered him a bed in their flat, but realised only later that evening that he was wanted after police sent out a message in Arabic via social media. They reportedly tied him to a sofa before contacting the police.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel reportedly praised the Syrians “who informed police about the terror suspect’s whereabouts, which led to his arrest,” saying they deserved gratitude and recognition.
Indeed, given the lack of support from their own governments in the countries where they’re living that is evident in responses like Clinton and Trump’s, the fact that any Muslims at all in the West are willing to go out of their way to risk their lives to stop jihadist terrorists is something that is worthy of gratitude and recognition.