By Arab News
Donald Trump’s proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the United States has backfired against the Republican presidential hopeful.
More than 35,000 Britons have signed an online petition to ban Trump from the UK, while Dubai-based retail giant Landmark Group said it was pulling Trump products off its shelves.
The UN human rights chief called Trump’s proposal “grossly irresponsible,” warning that it plays into the hands of extremist groups at the expense of ordinary Muslims who are also “eligible targets” of the extremists.
In response to a deadly shooting spree in California by two Muslims whom the FBI said had been radicalized, Trump called for a complete shutdown of Muslims entering the US “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”
After condemnation from around the world, Trump on Tuesday defended his proposal which he said was no worse than those of then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who oversaw the internment of more than 110,000 people in US government camps after Japanese forces bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
The call drew sharp rebuke from both the White House and other Republican presidential candidates.
“The UK has banned entry to many individuals for hate speech,” the text of the British petition said.
“If the United Kingdom is to continue applying the ‘unacceptable behavior’ criteria to those who wish to enter its borders, it must be fairly applied to the rich as well as poor, and the weak as well as powerful.”
Britain’s interior ministry has the power to ban people from entering the country if they have engaged in what the government determines to be unacceptable behavior. In the past people have been banned for fostering hatred that might provoke inter-community violence.
By early on Wednesday morning the petition had attracted 35,827 signatures — a number which was rising quickly. The government responds to all petitions that gain more than 10,000 signatures, and if it reaches 100,000 the topic will be considered for a parliamentary debate.
A spokeswoman for Prime Minister David Cameron on Tuesday said Cameron thought Trump’s comments were “divisive, unhelpful and quite simply wrong.”
Britain has an estimated 2.7 million Muslim population. Earlier this year, the government said fighting extremism was one of the defining battles of this century and announced a strategy primarily designed to counter the ideology promoted by Daesh militants, Al-Qaeda and other radical Islamists.
Landmark and DT Home Marks International LLC have an exclusive deal to sell Trump Home products — including lighting, mirrors, and jewellery boxes — in their Lifestyle department stores in Kuwait, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
“In light of the recent statements made by the presidential candidate in the US media, we have suspended sale of all products from the Trump Home décor range,” CEO Sachin Mundhwa said in an e-mailed statement.
The group did not give details on the value of the contract.
Lifestyle has more than 190 stores across the Middle East, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya and Tanzania.
Putting innocents in crossfire
Zeid Raad Al-Hussein, the UN high commissioner for human rights, said he and other Muslims at the UN “could be victimized by these groups” as well as Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and others.
“So it’s not a case of the West vs. Islam, it’s a case of the violent extremists on the one hand vs. the rest, and that’s the truth,” he told a group of reporters.
He said that “when political leaders rampage verbally through the lexicon to describe any minority in a way that is somehow pejorative, I think it’s dangerous in this moment in time.” He added that the leaders themselves may not be aware of the potential repercussions.
Zeid said the United States was founded on the dignity and rights of the individual, and the danger of classifying and categorizing people is that “it dehumanizes — it can lead to victimization of the innocent.”
“Clearly, while there’s no love lost for those who perpetrate violence and the killings of civilians, it’s a double tragedy when the innocent have to suffer because of the reactions,” Zeid said.
Earlier Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman said the UN chief also strongly opposes Trump’s call.
Farhan Haq said Ban has repeatedly spoken out against all forms of xenophobia and statements against migrants, racial or religious groups “and that would certainly apply in this case.”
While political campaigns have their own dynamics, Haq said, “we do not believe that any kind of rhetoric that relies on Islamaphobia, xenophobia, any other appeal to hate any groups, really should be followed by anyone.”