YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump made headlines yet again when he proposed a ban on all Muslims entering the United States.
Leaders with the Muslim Student Association at Youngstown State University say those statements are exactly what terror groups like ISIS want to hear.
Part of Trump’s proposal would apply to immigrants and visitors, affecting the religion practiced by more than a billion people worldwide. In television interviews on Tuesday, Trump clarified that it would not apply to American citizens traveling abroad and would allow exemptions for certain people, including the leaders of Middle Eastern countries and athletes for certain sporting events.
He did not back down from the statements, saying there is a need to do something after last week’s deadly shooting in San Bernardino, California by a radicalized Muslim couple.
But the comments led to heavy backlash from Democrats, as well as those part of his own party.
“This is not conservatism. What was proposed yesterday is not what this party stands for, and more importantly it’s not what this country stands for,” Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters following Trump’s statement.
YSU Professor and Muslim Student Association Advisor Taci Turel said comparing all Muslims to terrorists is an unfair characterization and a dangerous assumption.
“Use of the word Muslim, instead of extremists or terrorists, he uses the word Muslim as if they’re the same thing,” she said. “That definitely threatens a lot of Muslims.”
Turel said while she understands the fear that Americans are feeling, she said terrorists kill Muslims as well, and most Muslims do not identify with the brutal violence that ISIS encourages.
“It is very frustrating for everybody who is Muslim, because we have to explain ourselves every time for something like this, for something that we do not even identify with,” she said.
Turel believes Trump’s proposal just adds fuel to the fire.
“His statements really support the similar extremist ideas that ISIS has,” she said. “I mean, this is what terrorists want. They want people to hate each other.”
YSU Student Muslim Association President Gulay Yazar agrees, but she says she believes that voters will soon be unable to consider Trump a serious candidate. She believes many Americans are supportive of people of different backgrounds and cultures.
“They won’t take him seriously, and it’ll be old news by next year,” Yazar said.
Yazar joined fellow YSU students last month to cover up pro-ISIS messages that were found on a rock on YSU’s campus. She says there are always people who will promote hate, but it will take a lot of effort from good people to promote love.
And Professor Turel agrees.
“It’s very easy to be destructive,” she said. “It’s a lot harder to build bridges between each other.”