A state lawmaker in Oklahoma refused to meet with Muslim constituents unless they replied to a questionnaire asking if they beat their wives. A Nebraska state senator suggested that any Muslim wanting to enter the United States be forced to eat pork first. And a Rhode Island legislator advocated herding Syrian refugees into a camp, writing in an email that Muslims seek “to murder, rape, and decapitate anyone who is a non-Muslim.”
Those are among dozens of examples of state and local Republican politicians and officials publicly attacking Islam in 49 states since 2015, typically with impunity, according to a BuzzFeed News analysis. Some elected officials shared hate-filled social media posts urging violence against Muslims, while others used subtler, loaded language to smear Islam as they opposed mosque-building projects or wrote bills aimed at what they portrayed as the threat of Sharia.
The anti-Muslim rhetoric in virtually every state reflects the general coarsening of political speech in the anything-goes era of President Donald Trump, who’s lashed out at Mexicans, Muslims, African Americans, women, and other targets. Still, the jabs at Islam are set apart by their sheer ugliness as well as by companion efforts aimed at restricting Muslim civil liberties and immigration. Muslim groups worry that politicians’ unchecked vilification of a religion followed by more than 3.3 million Americans opens the door for even bigger blows than the travel ban.
“It has become an acceptable plank within the Republican Party to demonize Muslims,” said Robert McCaw, government affairs director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, the nation’s largest Muslim advocacy group. “Policymakers take ideas and turn them into action. That can endanger communities like American Muslims if Islamophobic sentiment is turned into law.”
Muslims have no reason to believe the White House will take the lead in addressing the inflammatory language, which in some cases amounts to hate speech. Trump, who’s also disparaged Islam, last month nominated CIA director Mike Pompeo for secretary of state despite his long history of bashing Islam and associating with anti-Muslim bigots.
Read the full story at BuzzFeed News