President Barack Obama has a “woeful” record of protecting the rights of American Muslims amid growing anti-Islam fearmongering in the country, says an international lawyer and analyst.
“With Islamophobia running at an all time high during this election cycle, President Obama’s symbolic visit to an American mosque and his remarks about American Muslims are certainly timely,” Barry Grossman said in an interview on Thursday.
During his first visit to a US mosque as president on Wednesday, Obama called on Americans to embrace their “common humanity” and to reject the “inexcusable” anti-Islam rhetoric emanating from some Republican presidential candidates.
“We have to reject a politics that seeks to manipulate prejudice or bias and targets people because of religion. We’ve got to make sure that hate crimes are punished and that the civil rights of all Americans are upheld,” Obama said at the Islamic Society of Baltimore in Windsor Mill, Maryland.
Grossman said that while Obama’s speech was commendable, “but this cynical exercise highlights more of what is wrong with America’s ‘official’ attitude towards Islam than what is right.”
He said Obama’s move was a “political stunt” designed to counter the Republican rhetoric during this election season. “His gesture was politically motivated rather than a genuine effort to show leadership and encourage tolerance.”
Republican candidates, with billionaire Donald Trump in the vanguard, have helped fuel unprecedented levels of anti-Muslim sentiments in the US by their inflammatory remarks on the campaign trail, following terrorist bombings by Daesh (ISIL) affiliates and sympathizers in Paris and San Bernardo, California.
“Having denounced the political rhetoric of people like Trump that manipulate prejudices and target people because of religion, [Obama] even went so far as to say that America must ‘make sure that hate crimes are punished and that the civil rights of all Americans are upheld,’” Grossman said.
“Well, he has had almost 8 years to do just that, and unfortunately, his record of defending civil liberties and prosecuting hate crimes is woeful across the board, let alone when such violations target Muslims,” he continued.
Grossman further criticized Obama for what he said was promoting the “contrived official narrative,” which asserts the so-called Islamic terrorism continues to pose a “significant threat to Americans.”
“In reality, astonishingly few crimes of mass violence have been carried out in the USA by individuals who nominally identify as being Muslim,” he noted.
Grossman cited statistics that indicate Americans are more likely to die by having vending machines fall on them (13 each year), or from injuries sustained from falling out of bed (an average of 450 each year), than they are to die from acts of terror carried out by Muslims.
“The problems faced by Muslims in the Atlantic World come as much from the establishment’s obscene overstatement of the terrorist threat as they do from ordinary, garden-variety bigotry,” the analyst argued.
“Frankly, if I was forced to choose, I would say that the official narrative – even in its most politically correct form – is far more damaging to Muslims and the community at large than the bigotry and prejudice Obama claims to condemn,” he stressed.
Obama took office in January 2009, promising to reach out to Muslims around the world and reset a relationship damaged by the invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.
“The reality is that America’s war on terror has relatively little to do with terrorism or national security and everything to do with America’s recognition that its culture and the corporatist ideology it imposes on the rest of the world is fundamentally at odds with the social and political imperatives which define even so-called moderate Islam,” Grossman noted.
“In effect, Obama’s message, well-intended as it may have been, is that Muslims who assimilate and embrace the US establishment’s political agenda are welcome in the US and, by implication, the rest are on their own,” he concluded.
By Press TV