November 23, 2016 Special Dispatch No. 6690

Washington-Based Writer Mansour Al-Hadj: Fear Of Trump Presidency Is Overblown; It Is Impossible To Defeat Islamic Terrorism Without Reforming Islam

November 23, 2016
Special Dispatch No. 6690

On November 4, 2016, Mansour Al-Hadj, a liberal Saudi-born journalist living in the U.S.[1] , published an article on the liberal Arabic-language website about the following week's U.S. presidential election, titled "Trumpophobia - And Why I'm Not Worried About a Trump Presidency."


Al-Hadj begins his piece by stating that various elements had expressed, in the U.S. media and to him personally, fears of a Trump presidency, casting the candidate as dangerous not only for the U.S. but for global security; as having an uncontrollable desire to use nuclear weapons; as a new Hitler who would turn the U.S. into a Nazi Germany-style racist state; and as similar to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad - since he hinted he would not accept the results of the election unless he won - and to Saddam Hussein. Al-Hadj's article is a response to these and other statements, which he calls symptoms of "Trumpophobia."

Although he is a black Muslim Arab, and not a Trump supporter, Al-Hadj wrote, he believes that these fears are overblown, and unwarranted, because the U.S. is a true democracy and its president's authority is limited, unlike in Arab and Islamic countries. Its system of checks and balances, he wrote, would prevent a President Trump from changing the core values of the country; not only have several American presidents been impeached and forced out one way or another, but Barack Obama, a black man, had been overwhelmingly voted in, twice, despite the claim that the U.S. is fundamentally racist.

Al-Hadj stated that while the "Trumpophobes" persist in accusing Trump of being an Islamophobe, their fear of him is misplaced. However, he stressed, the fear of radical Islam is absolutely warranted, and completely rational - not only on the part of non-Muslims, but for "every peace-loving Muslim" as well. Muslims, he wrote, fear Islam more than anyone else does, because it is they who are the main victims of Islamic terrorism, and it is they who are subject to oppression under Islamic regimes.

Pointing his finger at U.S. Democrats, and particularly the Obama administration, for attempting to obscure Islam's actual connection to terrorism, in the face of the indisputable proof of such a connection provided by both history and today's reality, he stressed that Islamic terrorism cannot be eliminated "without reforming Islam and purging it of everything that provides ideological justification for terrorist organizations and streams of political Islam." He called on the Muslims to establish a global organization representing the entire spectrum of Muslims to deal with interpreting Islam, and for this organization to be the only world body authorized to speak for Muslims.

Al-Hadj concluded by calling on Arabs and Muslims to learn from the democratic experience of the U.S., which, he wrote, entitles any citizen to run for president "in a peaceful democratic atmosphere, in which the only permissible weapon is words," and enables anyone "to dream of reaching the highest positions with effort and determination, instead of relying on luck, tribal affiliation, wealth, religion, or sect," as in the Arab and Muslim world.

Mansour Al-Hadj (

Following are excerpts from Mansour Al-Hadj's article:[2]

I Don't Fear A Trump Presidency Because He Cannot Abolish The Basic Values Of The American Nation

"Personally speaking - and despite the fact that I have black skin, come from a Muslim background, speak Arabic, and have an Arab name - I believe that the phenomenon of 'Trumpophobia' involves excessive fear, and even though I am not a Trump [supporter,] I do not fear for the fate of the U.S. if this man heads it. I am not worried because I believe the U.S. is a country run by institutions and the president's authority there is not unlimited as it is in Arab and Islamic countries. [I believe that] Trump can absolutely not cancel the values, achievements and principles of justice, equality, and liberty that form the basis of this nation, whose pillars were established by the founding fathers who meticulously ensured the division and separation of powers. [They did this] so that the people can defend its achievements with the Constitution and government and non-governmental agencies, including the House and Senate, the Supreme Court, civil society organizations, and the judiciary, and while it faces challenges, the FBI still did not hesitate for one second to reopen the investigation into the emails of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton mere days before the election. Clinton could face incarceration if authorities decide that her violations require prosecution and if she is tried and convicted.

"For those who don't know, the legislative branch in the U.S. can impeach a president, which has happened twice in its history: In 1998 the House of Representatives impeached President Bill Clinton after his sex scandal involving Monica Lewinsky. The president was tried before the Senate, which decided to acquit him, allowing Clinton to complete his term in office... President Nixon submitted his resignation after the Watergate scandal that involved spying on the Democratic Party before Congress could vote to impeach him.

"While it is apparent that many Americans are losing trust in their nation and are especially fearful of a takeover by white racists, this nation has proven that it deserves respect and esteem, since it has overcome all tests and fears, and succeeded in all challenges. While Arab channels reported on the racism that American blacks suffer from, and while my friends and acquaintances asked me if I was experiencing racial animosity due to my skin color, Americans - whites, blacks, Latinos, Arabs, Africans, and Asians - elected a black president, thus silencing the voices who rejected the possibility of a black man entering the White House and making Obama president. This would not have been possible if whites based their votes on his skin color rather than his positions."

It Is Muslims Who Should Fear Islam More Than Anyone

"While the 'Trumpophobes' do not realize that their fears of his rise to power are unjustified, they insist on accusing him of unjustified fear of Islam, known as 'Islamophobia.' The truth is that fear of Islam is justified and rational, not only on the part of Trump and the Americans, but of every peace-loving Muslim who fears becoming a victim of an extremist Muslim martyrdom attacker who believes that murdering civilians in train stations, theaters, soccer stadiums, or dance halls will bring him closer to Allah, grant him a first class ticket to the eternal gardens of Paradise and the right to deflower dozens of heavenly beauties, and allow him to peer into the face of Allah and sit amongst the prophets, affirmers of truth, martyrs, and righteous men whom Allah favored.

"Trump, whether we like it or not, bases his slogans and ideas on his concern for his country and love of it, which is what his fans and supporters clearly see, [while] the anti-Trump media, instead of trying to analyze and criticize his ideas, try in vain to distort [his image] by focusing on his sexual transgressions, inflating statements he's made about his views of Muslims and taking them out of context, and focusing on leaked statements and recordings of him discussing his attitude towards women... Ashraf Al-Ansari,[3] a member of the Republican Party and one of Trump's supporters, was a guest on the panel of the show 'Talking Points' [on BBC Arabic], and said that Trump does not speak diplomatically like other politicians because he is a visionary, not a politician.

The Truth Must Be Acknowledged: Islamic Terrorism Is Rooted In Islam

"Trump believes that dealing with any problem starts with establishing an accurate definition of that problem, and in the case of Islamic organizations, it relates to the religion on which terrorists base [their actions] - a fact that Democrats in general, and the Obama administration in particular, try to mask by absolving the [Muslim] religion of any responsibility for [terrorism], and placing [responsibility] solely on one or more extremist groups, which they say have no connection to Islam, as Secretary of State John Kerry has said.

"The claim that terrorism is not related to Islam is a claim that historical facts disprove and current reality rejects and exposes as a distortion, since it is an undisputed fact that Islamic heritage is the ideological basis and the fertile ground granting terrorist groups justifications and motives to commit their heinous crimes. It is absurd to say that Islamic terrorism can be defeated without reforming Islam and purging it of everything that provides ideological justification for terrorist groups and streams of political Islam. I grew up in an Islamic environment that believes religion is its most valuable asset, and that the entire world is conspiring to eliminate it, and therefore that the only way to deal with this Western 'plot' against Islam is to adhere to the religion and spread it throughout the world, and revive the ancient glory of the [Muslims] ummah by reoccupying Andalusia, conquering Rome, and smashing the cross.

"While we [Muslims] have blackened the pages of our textbooks with the horrors carried out by European imperialism in Asia and Africa, we continue to call our Muslim ancestors' occupation of other countries 'Islamic victories.' I will never forget the shocked faces of attendants at a lecture I gave at a Mosque in Blacksburg [Virginia] on the topic of 'The Ills of the Islamic World,' [when I spoke of] the magnitude of the crime committed by [Ottoman Sultan] Mehmed [II] who, after conquering Constantinople, turned the [Byzantine] Hagia Sophia church into a mosque. One attendee said that this was fine so long as most Muslims at the time agreed to turn the church into a mosque. Another attendee recited a hadith attributed to the Prophet [Muhammad], in which he praised the conqueror of Constantinople and said: 'The best conqueror is he who conquers it [Constantinople], and the best leader is he who leads it.' Thus, [this man] eliminated any possibility of a rational interpretation of Islam, based on the values of justice, liberty, and equality - [while] many people who defend Islam repeatedly claim that it ensures [these values], and engrains [them] diligently and applies them equally [to everyone], not just to Muslims but to members of other faiths as well.

"The debates that follow any terrorist attack around the world have become a kind of boring TV drama, and everyone knows how it will end before it even begins. In every debate, one side insists that the source of terrorism is ideology rooted in the Islamic heritage, which divides the world between Dar Al-Islam [the Abode of Islam] and Dar Al-Kufr [the Abode of Unbelief], sees Muslims as the 'loftiest' creations, and insists that the enemies wish to snuff out the light of Allah... This side insists that when Muhammad and his Companions [carried out] Allah's verdict against the Jews of the Banu Qurayza [tribe] - as stated in a hadith: 'Kill their men, capture their women and children, and commandeer their property' - they committed crimes no different from the crimes committed by ISIS against the Yazidi people. [This side also] insists that the 'Reformer Imam' Muhammad bin 'Abd Al-Wahhab [the founder of Wahhabism] declared jihad against the residents of the Arabian Peninsula because they had drifted away from the religion and violated the tenets of monotheism introduced by the Prophet Muhammad. It also insists that current curricula in [Mecca], the city that Muslims face at least five times a day [when praying], teach students that Shi'ites and Sufis are infidels, and that a person who does not pray must be called upon to repent three times, and later [if he does not repent] he must be killed, and [his body] must not be washed nor wrapped in shrouds nor buried in a Muslim cemetery.  They also teach them that the Jews are the eternal enemies of Muslims and that they, the Muslims, will fight them in the end times, and even the trees and the rocks will stand with [the Muslims] to the point that if a Jew hides behind them, they will direct [the Muslims] to him and say: 'Oh, Muslim, oh servant of Allah - there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him.'

"As for the side that defends [Islam], it insists that jihadi groups have nothing to do with Islam and that the Koran forbids unlawful killing and ensures freedom of religion, as is stated in Koran 109:6: 'For you is your religion, and for me is my religion,' or Koran 5:32: 'whoever kills a soul... it is as if he had slain mankind entirely,'[4] and argues that Iblis [Satan] refusing to prostrate before Adam is the best example of freedom of expression and disagreement.[5] Thus, the episodes [in defense and condemnation of Islam] end, leaving the viewer without much more [information] than he had prior to watching and without challenging the beliefs of either those who believe that Islam has no relation to terrorism or those who believe that it is the source of terrorism.

"As stated above, Muslims, who suffer from terrorism and from the oppression of regimes that purport to be Allah's representatives on earth in order to force His laws on people, fear Islam more than anyone else. In other words, they are the most afflicted by 'Islamophobia' ... And why wouldn't they fear Islam when thousands of them became victims of terrorist attacks using explosive vests and car bombs that do not distinguish between a man and a woman or between children and elderly? Why wouldn't they be afraid when hundreds of them are slaughtered like sheep after being accused of being apostates, Western spies and collaborators, merely for objecting to a backwards group ruling them in the name of the religion?

"I do not exaggerate when I say that any young woman forced to wear a hijab against her will has the right to become afflicted with the disease of 'Islamophobia,' and any child has the right to fear Islam if his parents forced him to pray and frightened him using tales of 'the Bald Serpent'[6] and eternal torment in hell if he neglects his prayers. All those who expressed their opinion on Islam and paid the price for it, such as intellectual Farag Foda[7] and Mahmoud Mohammed Taha[8] ... or anyone who was or still is at risk, such as Salman Rushdie, Islam Al-Buhairi,[9] Hamza Kashgari,[10] Turki Al-Hamad,[11] Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd,[12] Fatma Naout,[13] Maajid Nawaz,[14] and many others, have the right to be Islamophobic, since their lives are in the balance. As I tweeted yesterday [November 3], I believe that it is the right of any Shi'ite, Sufi, or Ahmadi, and of any liberal or [Muslim] who does not pray or fast or don a long [traditional] robe or who likes listening to music - [it is the right of any one of them] accused of apostasy and lawlessness to be afflicted with Islamophobia.

"I will never forget the nightmares that plagued me when I stopped praying over 10 years ago, and the fear that gripped me when I awakened terrified and covered in sweat in the middle of the night fearing the Bald Serpent and eternal hellfire."

Muslims Must Establish A Global Organization To Deal With Interpreting Islam

"In my opinion, the solution... lies in Muslims establishing a global Islamic organization to which all Muslims from all sects, ideologies, and cultures, will send representatives and empower them to deal with anything related to interpreting Islamic heritage, explaining it, and establishing it, so that this [body] will be the only one officially qualified to speak for Muslims. [Establishing] such an organization is the only way Muslims can hope to take back their religion from the hands of the regimes and the groups that use it for their personal interests and use clerics to suppress any voice that proposes positions not in line with their agendas and policies. For more on this, see my article 'Our Change to Restore Our Islam, The Religion of Peace.'[15]

"In conclusion, I reiterate that I understand the fear that many people have regarding Trump ascending to power, but I believe that the U.S. is not Syria or Iraq, or Germany before the rise of Hitler. [I believe] that instead of being fearful we should cherish the idea that Trump reaching this position - even though many oppose him and accuse him of being insane - proves the greatness of the U.S. and the beauty of its democratic experience. It allows anyone to run for or even become president - whether Trump, or Marco Rubio with his Latino roots, or Ben Carson the African-American, or a woman like Hillary Clinton, or a man with Arab roots like Ralph Nader, or a Jew like Bernie Sanders, or a Mormon like Mitt Romney, or a Catholic like late President John F. Kennedy. This, in a peaceful democratic atmosphere, in which the only permissible weapon is words. Obama's term will end in a few weeks, and he will return to being a regular citizen who served his country and then passed [the baton] to another person to carry on this great empire's role in leading the world.

"A quick comparison to our miserable Arab and Islamic world shows that Arabs and Muslims have a lot to learn from this unique experience in human history, rather than fragmenting countries, as happened in Sudan due to [President Omar] Al-Bashir and his Islamic men clinging to the altar and refusing to incorporate others in the regime since 1989 - a period during which the U.S. has seen four presidents, with a fifth on the way. We have a lot to learn from the U.S., which grants us free lessons... in constructing states and societies, peaceful transition of power, the conception of citizenship, work ethic, volunteering and philanthropy, the importance of freedom of expression and equality among all societal groups, and in the right of everyone to dream of reaching the highest positions with effort and determination, instead of relying on luck, tribal affiliation, wealth, religion, or sect [as happens in the Arab and Muslims world].

"As for the phenomenon of Islamophobia, which the CAIR organization [tries to cure] by handing out pills to those it thinks are afflicted with it, [16] [I say that] this is a serious problem, and dealing with it requires more than just an intense effort to defend Islam by calling it a religion of peace and offering pills to [Islamophobes]. [People fear Islam because they feel] they are threatened at any given moment by terrorism merely for being 'infidels,' 'polytheists,'  'apostates' or Shi'ites... or for deviating from tradition in accordance with Koranic verses and the traditions of the Prophet."



[1] Mansour Al-Hadj is Director of the MEMRI Reform Project. His previous articles include: MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6118, Liberal Writer Mansour Al-Hadj Proposes Founding An Independent Islamic Organization To Address Root Causes Of Violent Extremism, Promote Peaceful Aspects Of Islam, July 30, 2015; Special Dispatch; Special Dispatch No. 3699, Sooner or Later, the Revolution Will Reach Saudi Arabia, March 24, 2011; Special Dispatch No. 2663, In My Youth, I Was Taught to Love Death, December 1, 2009.

[2], November 4, 2016.

[3] An Egyptian businessman who lives in the U.S. and goes by the name Ashley Ansara.

[4] The full sentence in the verse is: 'whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land - it is as if he had slain mankind entirely.'

[5] Koran 34:2 states: "And [mention] when We said to the angels, 'Prostrate before Adam'; so they prostrated, except for Iblis. He refused and was arrogant and became of the disbelievers."

[6] According to an unreliable hadith, the Bald Serpent will penetrate the graves of those who neglected prayer and bite them day and night., the Saudi institution for research and fatwas, fatwa #8689.

[7] A secular Egyptian author and intellectual who supported the separation of religion and state and whose books caused widespread controversy. He was assassinated in 1992 by Al-Gama'a Al-Islamiyya.

[8] Sudanese philosopher executed on charges of apostasy in 1985.

[9] A young Egyptian intellectual and researcher and head of the Al-Yawm Al-Sabi' daily's Center for Islamic Studies. Al-Buhairi hosted a show on the Al-Kahira wal-Nas satellite channel in which he spoke out boldly against radical Islamic discourse and even criticized Al-Azhar and its head, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Tayyeb. As a result the show was suspended and he was prosecuted for "offending religions." In late May, 2015 he was convicted  and sentenced to five years in prison.  

[10] A Saudi writer and poet who was arrested in 2012 for posting two tweets that "insulted the Prophet" and was incarcerated for two years without trial.

[11] A Saudi writer who was arrested in 2012 for tweeting that Islam needs to be reformed.

[12] An Egyptian researcher of Islam whose books sparked controversy in the 1990s by calling the Koran a cultural product. After in 1995 a sharia court convicted him of apostasy and forced to divorce his wife, the two fled to the Netherlands where he lived and worked as a university lecturer.

[13] An Egyptian writer who, in January 2016,  was found guilty of insulting Islam in a Facebook post that spoke out against the ritual of slaughter sheep on Eid al-Adha. She was sentenced to a fine and three years in prison.

[14] A British activist, author and journalist of Pakistani origin. In his youth he was a member of the Islamist movement Hizbullah ut-Tahrir, but later in life he renounced Islamism and became an activist against it.

[15] Published in, July 13, 2015.

[16] This is a reference to a video circulated by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) by as part of its anti-Islamophobia campaign. The video advises Islamophobes to take a pill, Islamophobin, to treat their disease. See


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