On the difficulty of being Muslim in Trump’s administration

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SHAFAQNA – A Muslim White House staff member resigned from her job eight days into the Trump administration, because the office had transformed into a “monochromatic and male bastion”.

Rumana Ahmed – who worked for the National Security Council [NSC] under Barack Obama – said she intended to continue in her job because she “decided that Trump’s NSC could benefit from a coloured, female, hijab-wearing, American Muslim patriot”.

As a employee of the NSC, rather than a political appointment, she had the right to stay in her role.

But, Ms Ahmed – whose parents emigrated from Bangladesh before she was born – said the new administration was not receptive to her input.

“I got both of those looks of ‘oh my God, like, are you OK… I’m surprised you’re still here,’” Ms Ahmed told CBS News. “But then you also had others who were just very cold and just kind of ignored the fact that I was even there.”

Ms Ahmed said that she and other experienced members of staff were left out of key discussions of matters within their purview.

Decisions became centralised to a few officials in the West Wing, in a “chaotic attempt at authoritarianism” that bred discontent among many White House staff, Ms Ahmed claimed.

She added: “Walking into that building was becoming more and more difficult every single day because everything that administration was doing stood against what I stood for as both an American and a Muslim.”

However, it was Mr Trump’s executive order banning travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries that ultimately persuaded her to resign.

The ban sparked widespread outrage and caused confusion at airports in the US and elsewhere, but was blocked after three federal judges ruled that it was not lawful.

Instead of fighting for the order to be reinstated, the President is submitting a new one with only “minor technical differences”, according to senior White House adviser Stephen Miller.

Mr Trump has denied his executive order targets Muslims and claimed it “is about terror and keeping our country safe”.

But his claims have been undermined by vows made during his campaign to crackdown on on followers of Islam, at one point calling for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States”.

Researchers involved in the left-leaning non-profit’s Annual Census of Hate Groups and Extremist Organisation attributed the spike to Mr Trump’s presidential campaign, saying his success had “energised” the radical right.

Mr Trump has denounced some racist groups, but has been evasive when asked to condemn others others. At a meeting with the The New York Times in November he said: “If they are energised, I want to look into it and find out why.”

Asked at a news conference last week about a spike in anti-Semitic threats, Mr Trump told reporters: “We are going to do everything within our power to stop long-simmering racism and every other thing that’s going on.

“I think one of the reasons that I won the election is because we have a very, very divided nation,” the president added. “Very divided, and hopefully, I’ll be able to do something about that.”

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