Fact-Checking Donald Trump on Islam & Muslims

Every day, American Muslims are contributing to their neighborhoods and communities as teachers, doctors, firefighters and a host of other professions. They are working in partnership with their fellow Americans and policymakers to contribute to realizing America’s vision of freedom and equal opportunity. They are, in the words of a Pew Center study, “mainstream, middle class and moderate.” Despite this, American Muslims are also one of the most misunderstood faith communities today with Americans split on their opinions of Islam and Muslims.

During a volatile election season like this one, candidates have fought for the title of “Toughest on Terrorism” to win voters over. And words are their only ammunition in their arsenal, words targeting Muslims and their faith as the enemy. Presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump (along with the field of GOP candidates) has pulled out all the stops in deploying anti-Muslim rhetoric for more than a year. Relying on discredited self-proclaimed experts and conspiracy theories, Trump’s positions present a dangerous path that would undermine the Constitution and our very way of life.

Here are Trump’s claims about Muslims on the campaign trail, and how they compare to reality:

1. Islam hates us.

"Without looking at the various polling data, it is obvious to anybody the hatred is beyond comprehension. Where this hatred comes from and why we will have to determine. Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life."

In his own words, Trump made no effort to look at data before labeling an entire faith in the worst terms possible. What is “obvious to anybody” is that facts are secondary to feelings for Trump. So, let’s fill in the facts.

The Quran teaches that God “created us in nations and tribes so that (we) might come to know one another” and that human diversity in culture, faith and color is part of His divine will. The Islamic values that most Muslims worldwide, and in the U.S., seek to reflect in their daily lives are peace, compassion and serving the greater good. Islam also teaches that believers should be loyal and faithful citizens wherever they reside, values which inspire thousands of American Muslims to serve in the armed forces and put their lives on the line for their country.

In opinion poll after poll conducted in recent years, American Muslims report high levels of affection for their country, the United States of America. A Gallup Center poll found that two-thirds of American Muslims say they identify strongly with the United States and are optimistic about the future. A Pew Center on Religion poll of American Muslims found that they are “mainstream, middle class and moderate.”

ISIS is a nihilistic cult which disfigures and disgraces Islam with its policies of murder, rape, slavery and religious superiority. Muslims make up more than 90% of ISIS victims worldwide. At the same time, Muslims worldwide has condemned ISIS universally and partnered with elected officials, law enforcement and people of all faiths as a reflection of their faith.

2. Surveillance of American Muslims is necessary in order to keep us safe.

"Great surveillance and vigilance must be adhered to. We want to be very fair but too many bad things are happening and the percentage of true hatred is too great. People that are looking to destroy our country must be reported and turned in by the good people who love our country and want America to be great again."

Trump once again questions the loyalty of American Muslims, in this case by accusing them of harboring terrorists. The truth is that ISIS and other radical groups are not recruiting in mosques and community centers. Instead, they are recruiting online. What mosques and parents alike have done time and again is contact law enforcement when they suspect a person supports or may be planning violence.

In fact, a new poll from the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding found that Muslims who say their faith is important to their identity are MORE likely to say being American is important to how they think of themselves (91%) than those who expressed a weak religious identity. It also found that those who attend a mosque on a regular basis are more likely to work with their neighbors to solve community problems, be registered to vote and are more likely to plan to vote.

Last year, Americans were more likely to be killed for being Muslim -- than by a Muslim. One in one million American Muslims died because of hatred for their faith, compared with one in 17 million other Americans who died at the hands of Muslim militants, according to Duke University’s Triangle Center on Terrorism and National Security.

The main terrorist threat in the United States is not from violent Muslim extremists, but from right-wing extremists. Just ask the FBI, which reports that that anti-government extremism is one of the top terrorist threats.

Trump believes that surveillance against mosques and establishing a database for all Muslims living in the U.S. are smart ways to keep us safe. He should check the facts against what the NYPD learned. After a multi-year, multi-million dollar surveillance program of New York area mosques, business, restaurants, universities and other places “visited by Muslims,” not one single person was identified, arrested or captured. Instead, public trust in law enforcement was badly eroded and tens of millions of taxpayer dollars was wasted.

What has worked is American Muslims themselves, who contribute everyday to their diverse neighborhoods and have done nothing to be treated as suspects. There is no such thing as a Muslim neighborhood. Unless maybe you’re thinking of Dearborn, Michigan - home to the one of the nation’s oldest Arab and Muslim American communities. In the rest of the country, American Muslims are integrated in diverse cities and neighborhoods and serve as teachers, doctors, entrepreneurs, parents, and public servants in elected office, law enforcement and the military.

3. Banning Muslims from entering U.S. until “we can figure things out” will make us safer.

"Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on.”

Terrorism is not a problem that can be legislated out of nor is it one that can be stopped by closing our borders. The Trump campaign pointed to an online poll from the controversial Center for Security Policy, which claimed that a quarter of Muslims living in the U.S. believe violence against Americans is justified as part of a global jihadist campaign. The Southern Poverty Law Center named the group’s head “one of America’s most notorious Islamophobes... gripped by paranoid fantasies about Muslims destroying the West from within.”

Muslims are a small community of just 2.5-4 million, which traces it roots to the earliest days of America and Muslims have been part of our country ever since. American Muslims are a vital and contributing segment of America, who serve as doctors, teachers, parents, students and those who serve proudly in the military and law enforcement. Banning a group because of its religious identity is un-American and a flagrant violation of our Constitution, and would rob our country of a valuable and contributing group of Americans.