Inside Donald Trump’s strategic decision to target Muslims

Source: The Washington Post

June 21 at 6:00 AM
In the weeks between last year’s terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., Donald Trump and his closest aides began discussing an idea far outside the bounds of normal political debate: banning all foreign Muslims from entering the United States based solely on their religion.

To Trump and his advisers — including then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and then-political director Michael Glassner — the idea was a commonplace response aimed at the heart of the problem: radical Islam.

The campaign’s views were also heavily influenced by the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, when al-Qaeda hijackers killed nearly 3,000 people, most of whom died in the collapsing World Trade Center, around 4½ miles from Trump Tower.

“My perspective on this is very much formed by 9/11,” said Glassner, who is now Trump’s deputy campaign manager. “I worked at the World Trade Center. Those people were radical Islamists, and they were trying to kill me and they killed 87 of my colleagues. . . . Why wouldn’t you start by trying to identify this demographic coming into the United States and see what they’re doing? It has nothing to do with religion; I think it had everything to do with the facts of who was perpetrating these crimes.”

Trump has been talking about the ‘Muslim problem’ for years

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump wants to stop almost all Muslims from coming into the United States. Here’s what he has said about Muslims since 2011. (Sarah Parnass/The Washington Post)

Trump has purposely and methodically made his proposed Muslim ban — and suspicion of American Muslims — a centerpiece of his nativist pitch to voters, along with promises to bring back jobs from overseas and crack down on illegal immigration. Trump has seized on the issue again this month in the wake of the massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, reiterating his support for blocking Muslims from the country after seeming to soften on the idea. He also alleged that many American Muslims and mosques are knowingly protecting terrorists, that the United States should consider profiling Muslims and that President Obama may be in league with Islamist extremists.

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