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Head Of Muslim Group Reacts To Trump's Comments


Let's bring in another voice to the conversation. Hussam Ayloush is in Southern California. He is also with the Council on American-Islamic Relations. And he worked with the family members of the San Bernardino suspects. We heard him on the program last week. Welcome back to the programs, sir.

HUSSAM AYLOUSH: Thank you, Steve.

INSKEEP: What do you say to Donald Trump, and apparently others, who say that Muslims broadly, as a group, simply can't be trusted?

AYLOUSH: I'm actually at a total disbelief that in this day and age, and in America itself, there's a leading presidential candidate who's using language that we haven't heard since fascists and Nazis had been defeated. This is so dangerous of rhetoric. I mean, it's immoral. It's fascistic. It's un-American, unconstitutional. And more than that, it's actually very dangerous for the public safety of American Muslims and, as well, extremely dangerous for our national security.

INSKEEP: What do you mean by dangerous for the public safety of American Muslims?

AYLOUSH: Because what he's doing with his mob - they're dehumanizing Muslims and anyone who follows Islam. That's why we've witnessed a rise in the number of hate attacks against mosques, Muslim students at schools, people who are perceived as Muslims at the workplace. It's because of that rhetoric, of fear mongering. Unfortunately, what he's doing - he knows that his numbers are trailing. And he wants to prove to his base that he is the most bigoted person.

INSKEEP: I'm interested in how you phrased that. Do you think there are large numbers of Americans who, even if they wouldn't phrase it just that way, are looking for the most bigoted person?

AYLOUSH: Well, reality is he still gets close to 20 percent of the Republican support. That's not a small fringe group. These are people who are possibly our neighbors, people who we arrive on the buses with, people who work with us. It just scares me that there are some people who hold so much ignorance or hatred in their hearts towards fellow Americans who happen to be Muslim. What's happening? We have leaders who are exploiting people's ignorance and fear to advance their political careers at the expense of our country's security. This is exactly what ISIS would like to see. He is doing the work of ISIS. He is polarizing our country, polarizing the world, creating a war between America and Islam.

INSKEEP: It is a difficult situation because you have been in touch with the family members of the San Bernardino suspects. Many people around them did not seem to know that they had been radicalized in the way that police and the evidence now suggests that they were. And they were in the Muslim community, in Southern California. What do you say to someone who is simply, at this moment, worried?

AYLOUSH: The fact that they had to hide this from their fellow Muslims at the mosques or from their friends at school or in the neighborhood or in the community, that tells you that - because there is no acceptance for such ideology of hatred and destruction within the Muslim community because it goes against everything that we understand that Islam stands for. Yeah, there will always be someone who would misinterpret Christianity or Judaism or Islam for their own goals because they are - inside, they already have some problem. And they're looking for that justification within Islam or Christianity or one of the other religions. It is not the mainstream. Let's not forget, the overwhelming majority of the victims of ISIS continue to be Muslims themselves. And the overwhelming number of people who are standing up to ISIS today and fighting ISIS on the ground, militarily, are the Muslims too.

INSKEEP: Hussam Ayloush, thank you very much.

AYLOUSH: Thank you for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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