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Saturday, May 14, 2016, Jaistha 1, 1423 BS, Shaban 6, 1437 Hijri

Open Letter To Donald Trump
A peace activist?s perspective on race and religion
Sharmin Ahmad
Published :Saturday, 14 May, 2016,  Time : 12:00 AM  View Count : 28
Dear Mr. Donald Trump,
I have followed you and Bernie Sanders closely enough for two main reasons. First, both of you have refused to take money from the special interest groups to run your presidential election campaigns. Second, both of you have shaken the political landscape of the United States, like no other candidate before. Though your ideological views and political platform significantly differs from that of Mr. Sanders, you both have raised serious questions about the current political structure, process and practice that more often serve the interests of the privileged few while ignoring the genuine rights and needs of the majority.
Your criticism of the politicians who are dictated by the special interests on issues that go against the rights and interests of the vast majority of people of our nation is appreciated by many. You have raised beautiful children who have been a tremendous support for you during your campaign. Their deep connection with you and their admiration for you as a great father, mentor and friend have certainly boosted your image in the public eye --- much more than any other candidate. Your slogan, "Make America Great Again", has resonated with millions of the silent majority, as evidenced by your resounding victory as a front runner in the Republican primaries.
However, your scathing remarks against Muslims, Islam and Mexicans have been a genuine issue of concern for millions of people nationally and a billion plus globally. These remarks have sparked violence, particularly against the American Muslims. You have made hurtful and insulting comments about the Mexicans as a race and Muslims as a faith group, adhering to the religion of Islam, which is one of the great Abrahamic religions with Judaism and Christianity. (According to the Old Testament, both of Prophet Abraham's sons, Isaac and Ishmael, were blessed by God that they would father great nations. Accordingly, Judaism and Christianity ensued from the lineage of Isaac and Islam from the lineage of Ishmael.)
In an era of widening conflict and division between people based on race, religion, gender and class that threaten world peace and safety, a person of wisdom would build a bridge that would unite people, not separate them. Your painfully negative remarks about a particular race and a particular religion go against the values and ideals that made America great. I can understand your concern about the illegal immigrants entering through the open borders and the terrorists targeting our nation. But when you associate race and religion with each act of crime, you create an impression that generalizes all Mexicans as rapists and murderers and all Muslims as terrorists or terrorist suspects. You know this is not the case. The reality is that the criminals and terrorists don't belong to any particular race and religion. They are simply criminals and terrorists. Just as the Inquisition and witch burnings of the medieval ages in the name of Christianity did not represent Christian values, terrorists also do not represent the nature of Islam.
You need to develop a greater knowledge of the people of different faiths and races. Like it or not, as humans we all share the same origin; we are the children of Adam and Eve, originating in Africa. As a human race we all carry within us the same potentials, either to be constructive or destructive, or a mix of both. When the 9/11 tragedy happened and the World Trade Center collapsed, we lost nearly three thousands of our brave men and women who represented all races and religions. A newly married couple from Bangladesh, a seven-month pregnant woman, a cook, a banker, a security guard, and an IT employee were among the several dozen Muslims who were killed alongside people of different faiths and races. The percentage of Muslims killed in the attack were about the same percentage of Muslims living in the U.S.A. It was indeed an attack on the world and not just the United States.
Fifteen of the nineteen attackers were citizens of the ultra -conservative Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a staunch ally of the US government, with a high record of human rights abuse. The oil money indeed lowered our moral standards, principles and set blatant double standards. For the record, not all Arabs are Muslims (many Arabs are followers of Christianity, which originated in the Middle East) and the majority of Muslims worldwide are not Arabs. The Muslims in the Middle East comprise one fifth of the global Muslim population, with Indonesia being the largest Muslim nation in South-East Asia. The so-called Muslim terrorists, who don't even represent a sizable minority of the total Muslim population, are just as much a threat to Muslims as they are to the people of other faiths.
I make my statement with conviction. An immigrant woman from Bangladesh, I have witnessed as a young girl the horrors of a genocide in 1971 in which millions of innocent civilians in Bangladesh were killed by the invading Pakistan military government fully backed by the then Nixon-Kissinger administration of the U.S.A and the Muslim fundamentalist, albeit terrorist groups. It is noteworthy to mention that during the Soviet era, the foreign policy of the USA had always favored the dictatorial and undemocratic regimes of the Muslim countries and the radical minority religious groups from those nations in order to combat the Soviets. This short-sighted policy has triggered violence and genocide worldwide, Bangladesh being a case in point.
I have narrated the above historical episode to highlight the fact that no race or religion is inherently or eternally bad. Every nation has its dark side of history, as it has its good. Islamic civilization in its height of excellence in science, astronomy, medicine and art influenced the renaissance in Europe. The Native American civilizations as well as the indigenous peoples of Latin America continue to inspire us to respect the Earth. Their wisdom should be listened to. Regardless of our faith, race, gender and nationality, our destiny as one humanity is intricately woven together. According to the Native Americans, humanity is like a spider web. If you break one strand, you destroy the whole. Our common fight, therefore, is against ignorance, injustice, oppression and bigotry. Our collective Mission is to create a new era of respect, understanding, love and peace. This is the only path toward making America Great Again.
In Peace,
Sharmin Ahmad
Author and playwright: The Rainbow in a Heart: a story to celebrate universal motherhood and to co-create a compassionate world.

Links to the story and performance: l l

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