Bay Ridge

Trump Muslim ban proposal draws widespread condemnation

December 10, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Linda Sarsour, executive director of the Arab-American Association of New York, is one of several leaders condemning Donald Trump’s controversial stand. Eagle file photo by Paula Katinas

Sarsour tweet: Silent Majority, you have been summoned

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. is keeping his name in the headlines and drawing widespread rebuke from several quarters, including Arab-American leaders in Brooklyn.

Linda Sarsour, executive director of the Arab-American Association of New York, a nonprofit organization based in Bay Ridge, blasted Trump on her personal Twitter account and called on people to condemn his position.

“This guy is really off his rocker. Silent Majority, you have been summoned,” Sarsour tweeted.

Trump announced his controversial proposal in the wake of the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California. He called on a temporary ban until federal officials can sort out the situation.

On Dec. 9, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and a large contingent of elected officials and civic leaders stood on the steps of City Hall and criticized the bombastic billionaire.

Mark-Viverito used particularly strong language to condemn trump. “There is nothing left to say about Donald Trump except he is a disgusting, racist demagogue who has no business running for president period,” the council speaker said at the rally.

Trump responded to Mark-Viverito’s criticism by suggesting that the council speaker has taken her eye off the ball in New York. “Perhaps she should focus on taking care of the filthy conditions of New York City, the ever expanding homeless population and lowering taxes,” Trump’s campaign said in a statement.

Trump’s proposal is also taking place amid a fierce debate in Congress.

U.S. Rep. Yvette D. Clarke was one of only 19 House members to vote against the Visa Waiver Program Security Enhancement Act, a bill that seeks to restrict travel in the U.S. by citizens of Iraq and Syria and individuals who have previously visited those nations.

The measure passed overwhelmingly by a vote of 407 to 19.

Currently, the Visa Waiver Program allows tourists from 38 countries, including the United Kingdom, Spain and France, to remain in the U.S. for 90 days without a visa. Approximately 20 million tourists participate in the program each year, Clarke said.

“These restrictions on the visa waiver program are based on the unreliable assumption that people who are citizens of Iraq and Syria or who have visited these nations are involved in illegal activities such as terrorism. The automatic exclusion of these individuals will result in discrimination, alienating people based on their nation of origin and their ethnicity,” Clarke said.

Clarke charged that bill “sends a message to millions of people that America does not welcome them.”

In addition, she charged that a restriction could negatively impact journalists and humanitarian aid workers who travel to troubled countries for work.