Press TV has interviewed James Sues, an executive director with the CAIR, in New Jersey, on a comment by US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump calling for banning all Muslims from entering the United States.
The following is a rough transcription of the interview.
Press TV: I’d like to get your initial reactions to Trump’s comment specifically when he spoke of hatred of Muslims towards the Americans. Has he forgotten that there are Muslims who happen to be Americans as well?
Sues: Apparently. These comments are very offensive. Donald Trump is just fanning the flames of bigotry to score political points; and unfortunately, it works for him in some segments of society.
Press TV: Speaking of the comment that your organization made that we’re now entering the realm of fascism when it comes to Donald Trump. How serious are his comments in the sense of dividing the country specifically at the time when Islamophoia is rising?
Sues: Yeah, it does serve to divide the country. Thank God just because Donald Trump said it, it is not going to happen. As a matter of fact, it’s very unlikely that something like that ever would happen in this country. Besides being inflammatory and offensive, it’s illegal.
But the fact that his poll numbers may possibly rise as a result of comments like this shines a light on the division that is in the country and it’s very unfortunate and he is encouraging this kind of thing and that’s even more unfortunate.
Press TV: So, what is the solution over here? We have organizations like CAIR etc. that come out, condemn, try to create bridges between the American Muslims as well as the rest of the larger community, but is that enough?
Sues: Yeah, frankly, it’s not enough. Today, it is the matter of some Americans feeling like Muslims are ‘the other’ – Muslims are definitely a minority – and it’s the matter of Americans on both sides – American Muslims and non-Muslims – working a little bit harder to understand each other.
If the Americans who are afraid of Muslims made a little bit of effort to reach out and friend a Muslim – maybe visit a mosque, maybe find out a little bit more about the religion – and on the same token, if the Muslim Americans made more effort to reach out and befriend their fellow Americans, their neighbors, their coworkers, and introduce them to the religion, I think that would go a long way towards smoothing out some of the kinds of bigotry and hatred that seem to be growing in the country.