The rights of Muslims to dissent under the First Amendment is under threat by President Donald Trump
The first amendment was created after the experience of a repressive English state, highlighting the importance of the freedom of speech and thought to prevent the emergence of authoritarian regimes.
Donald Trump has entered negotiations surrounding the designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation. I cannot comment on the legitimacy of these negotiations and the perceived threat this group has on US security, however, President Trump argues that this is a form of counter-terrorism, and to that, I say no.
Designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group would place the grounds of criminality upon political beliefs rather than engaging or directly supporting terrorism. This would mean that the government could place charges without proof that the accused engaged in violence, as long as there was evidence that the accused knew about the Muslim Brotherhood. Furthermore, refugees or immigrants could be refused entry under the label, “political Islamists”. Their faith and beliefs provide evidence for a crime. Their religion is considered a crime.
An Islamophobia industry has grown in America, advocating for the deportation and criminalisation of Muslims. From 2015-2016 there was an increase in anti-Muslim groups from 34 to 101 in a single year. Moreover, hate crimes motivated by anti-Muslim bias jumped to 307 incidents in 2016, a 19% increase from the previous year, this is a conservative estimate. These figures have been a response to propaganda warning Americans about Muslims and the “Islamisation of America”.
The increase in anti-Muslim propaganda is where “counter-terrorism” becomes “encouraged terrorism”. White, alt-right and white nationalist groups can continue to spew vile, hateful speech that inspires violent racists to shoot synagogues and churches. Their actions are not condemned; instead they are encouraged and inspire similar attacks around the world. In the recent Christchurch terrorist attack, the perpetrator stated in his manifesto that he was inspired by similar attacks that he had witnessed around the globe as grounds for his own horrific, cowardly massacre.
President Trump banning the Muslim Brotherhood and criminalises US Muslim dissent is not counter-terrorism. In fact, all that you are doing is encouraging terrorist actions. The world has entered a deadly loop of violent, retaliatory attacks which cannot be broken until we understand how to deal with terrorism. It is through understanding and unity, not ignorance and division.