Earlier today I was having a little mooch through Twitter, like I do most days (OK every day!). One of the authors that I follow there is Frank Schaeffer. Frank is the author of the book ‘Why I Am An Atheist Who Believes In God’, a book which I found quite profound. Frank has also had quite a lot to say on Twitter about President Trump. This morning I read one of his tweets about the ‘Muslim Ban’, I found myself in agreement with the content of the tweet, so (as is the trait of the Twitter user) I hit the ‘retweet’ button.
Another of my Twitter friends is a man that I met a few years ago, a man with whom I share a set of interests and values, however politics is an area where we differ quite radically. On a few occasions we have exchanged views on Twitter, sometimes these exchanges have been a bit ‘testy’.
Today this friend responded to my retweet with the question ‘how can it be “Muslim Ban” when India, with 172m Muslims’ isn’t on the list of banned nations?’ My initial response, to be fair, was a little sharp.
The problem with Twitter is that it’s very difficult to have a proper discussion on any subject in 140 characters, hence these discussions can quickly descend into arguments. So I thought I’d take a look at the question and put some thoughts down, I’m no expert in this matter, these are just a few musings.
So, as my Twitter friend pointed out 172m Muslims is a lot to ignore, so I decided to take a look at some stats.
There are indeed 172 million people in India identifying as adherents of Islam. According to the 2011 census this equates to 14.2% of the population.
Let’s have a look at each of the seven countries that are listed in Trump’s 90 day ban.
The population of Iran is 77.45 million. 99.4% of the population are Muslim
The population of Iraq is 33.42 million. 95% of the population are Muslim
The population of Libya is 6.2 million. 97% of the population are Sunni Muslim
The population of Somalia is 12.3 million. 99.8% of the population are Sunni.
The population of Sudan is 38 million. 97% of the population are Muslim
The population of Syria is 22.85 million. 90% of the population are Muslim
The population of Yemen is 24.4 million. More than 99% of the population are Muslim.
So no, Trump’s ban does not exclude all Muslims, just those from these seven countries that are almost exclusively Muslim. It’s hardly surprising, is it, that this has been widely interpreted across the world as a ‘Muslim Ban’?
The people who will suffer most from Mr Trump’s actions are the people who have had to flee from their own countries in fear of their lives. Often leaving everything they own behind and being separated from their families. In short the people who will suffer most are the refugees.
America has long called itself a Christian country. The American Evangelical Christians were major supporters of Trump’s campaign. Trump stated categorically in one of his election addresses that the Bible was his ‘favourite book’.
It’s a pity then that neither he, nor apparently any of his supporters, have read, for instance, Deuteronomy 10:19, or any of the countless other references in the Bible in which God reminds his people how they were once exiles, refugees and strangers in a foreign land and instructs his people to show compassion to the refugee.
OK, so reading the above text back I’ve realised that I’m coming across as a self-righteous, lefty, liberal twat. Honestly that wasn’t my intention. I’m no politician and it’s a simple task to Google ‘how many Muslims in XXX?’.
People, please feel free to vote for whoever you want and support the policies of whoever you want, that is democracy. When you live in a democratic country the vote doesn’t always go the way that you wanted it to go, sometimes you have to accept that the majority of people (or sometimes not the majority, depending upon how your electoral system works), feel differently than you do about how the world should work. But at least you can have the freedom to disagree openly, you may not always agree, even with your family and friends, that is fine, just please don’t stop standing up for what you believe to be right.
To my Twitter friends. Frank Schaeffer, thank you for your insight and wisdom, please keep doing what you do, and to the other friend mentioned above, whose name I purposely left out, please keep challenging me too and let’s try not to shout at each other too much. I’ve got the feeling that you might feel differently about some of Mr Trump’s other ideas.