Trump Travel Ban: Muslim Perspective

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We’ll hear about President Trump’s travel ban on seven predominately Islamic countries from Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, one of the founders of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, which advocates for separation of church and state. Dr. Jasser is also the son of Syrian immigrants, one of the countries included in the travel ban.

TED: GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO "ARIZONA HORIZON." I'M TED SIMONS. THE CONTROVERSY OVER PRESIDENT TRUMP'S TRAVEL BAN TO SEVEN PREDOMINANTLY MUSLIM COUNTRIES CONTINUES.THIS AS THE PRESIDENT ANNOUNCES HIS SUPREME COURT NOMINEE THIS EVENING. WE SPOKE WITH CONGRESSMAN PAUL GOSAR ABOUT THOSE AND OTHER ISSUES EARLIER TODAY STARTING WITH THE SUPREME COURT.

PAUL GOSAR: I REALLY WANT SOMEBODY THAT'S GOING TO BE LOOKING AT ABIDING BY THE CONSTITUTION.WE NEED AN ORIGINALIST LIKE SCALIA WAS. I THINK THAT BRINGS YOUR HEAD BACK TO THE RULE OF LAW AND THAT FOUNDING PRINCIPLE OF THE CONSTITUTION. AND I THINK THAT PRESIDENT TRUMP, FROM WHAT I CAN TELL, I'M A DENTIST, BUT I LIKE LOOKING AT THE DETAIL AS WELL AS THE RULE OF LAW. FROM MY UNDERSTANDING, ALL THREE WOULD BE VERY GOOD PICKS. THAT'S WHAT I'M LOOKING FOR, GET BACK TO THE RULE OF LAW AND THE CONSTITUTION.

TED: REPRESENTATIVE GOSAR ALSO COMMENTED ON THE PRESIDENT'S FIRING OF FORMER ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL SALLY YATES.

PAUL GOSAR: I THINK IT'S APPROPRIATE. SHE DIVIDED DOING HER JOB AND SHE MADE IT POLITICAL AND WHEN THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT MAKES THINGS POLITICAL, IT'S TIME FOR YOU TO HIT THE DOOR. I'VE BEEN VERY -- A STAUNCH PROPONENT OF THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT NOT PROPOSING LEGISLATION BUT ACTUALLY ENFORCING THE RULE OF LAW AS IT'S PUT ON THE BOOKS. I THINK THE PRESIDENT DID EVERYTHING AS WE LOOK AT WHEN EVERYBODY SETTLES DOWN AND READS THE PROTOCOLS THAT HE PUT FORWARD ARE PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING THAT THE PREVIOUS ADMINISTRATION HAD DONE AT SOME TIME OR ANOTHER. SO I THINK EVERYBODY NEEDS TO TAKE A CHILL PILL. HER AS THE ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL WHEN SHE CAME OUT ON THE POLITICAL ASPECT, TIME FOR HER TO GO. I APPLAUD THE PRESIDENT FOR DOING THAT.

TED: CONGRESSMAN GOSAR ALSO SUGGESTED THAT TOO MUCH IS BEING MADE OF THE PRESIDENT'S TRAVEL BAN AGAINST CITIZENS OF SEVEN PREDOMINANTLY MUSLIM COUNTRIES.

PAUL GOSAR: IT'S A TEMPORARY BAN AT THIS POINT IN TIME SO WE CAN MAKE SURE WE GOT OUR VETTING DOWN AND IN PLACE. YOU GOT HOMELAND SECURITY, YOU HAD PREVIOUS ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS, SECRETARIES OF HOMELAND SECURITY AND NSA THAT BASICALLY SAID THAT THEY WEREN'T COMFORTABLE WITH THE VETTING PROCESS. SO AT THIS POINT IN TIME, IT SOUNDS TO ME PARTICULARLY WHEN WE'VE SEEN A RISE PARTICULARLY SINCE 2015 OF PREDICATED AND THOSE THAT HAVE FOLLOWED THROUGH WITH ATTACKS IN EUROPE THAT WE'RE JUST A MATTER OF TIME BEFORE IT HAPPENS TO US. SO A NICE TIME-OUT TO MAKE SURE WE'RE GETTING THE VETTING PROCESS RIGHT IN DEFENSE OF THIS COUNTRY AND THE CITIZENS OF WHICH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT'S RESPONSIBLE.

TED: AND CONGRESSMAN GOSAR NEITHER CONFIRMED NOR DENIED THAT HE WAS LOOKING TO RUN AGAINST U.S. SENATOR AND FELLOW REPUBLICAN JEFF FLAKE. GOSAR DID SAY RIGHT NOW HE WAS NOT, QUOTE, LOOKING FOR ANOTHER TITLE. JOINING US NOW TO TALK MORE ABOUT THE PRESIDENT'S EXECUTIVE ORDER BARRING TRAVELERS FROM CERTAIN PREDOMINANT MUSLIM COUNTRIES IS DR. JASSER, PUSHES FOR A SEPARATION BETWEEN MOSQUE AND STATE. THANKS FOR JOINING US. YOUR THOUGHTS NOW ON THE PRESIDENT'S TRAVEL BAN.

ZUHDI JASSER: I DON'T SEE IT AS A BAN. I SEE IT AS IMPLEMENTING THE SEVEN COUNTRIES THAT PRESIDENT OBAMA'S ADMINISTRATION HAD SAID SHOULD BE LOOKED AT AS HOT SPOTS. LISTEN, MY FAMILY ESCAPED SYRIA, THEY'RE POLITICAL REFUGEES. I HAVE FAMILY IN ALEPPO THAT WE PRAY FOR AND KNOW ARE LIVING THROUGH THE WORST OF HELLS AND HUMANITARIAN DISASTER WE'VE KNOWN IN THE 21st CENTURY LET ALONE SINCE WAR WAR TWO. WE HAVE A LITTLE WHIPLASH GOING ON POLITICALLY. THE LAST EIGHT YEARS HAS SEEN NO VETTING AS FAR AS IDEOLOGY. BUT JUST AS IN MOST WARS WE'VE FOUGHT, BE IT WORLD WAR II OR THE COLD WAR, WE VET AGAINST IDEOLOGIES THAT DON'T LIKE OUR WAY OF LIFE. CURRENTLY, THERE'S BEEN NO VETTING AGAINST JIHADIST AND MILITANT GROUPS. THIS IS JUST A BABY STEP. THE PLACE TO START IS THESE SEVEN HOT SPOTS. I WOULD HAVE LIKED TO HAVE SEEN SAUDI ARABIA, QATAR, PAKISTAN ADDED. THERE'S NOTHING MORE PRO-MUSLIM THAN SAYING IF YOU'RE A JIHADIST, YOU'RE NOT WELCOME HERE. IT'S NOT ABOUT BEING MUSLIM.

TED: CRITICS ARE SAYING IT'S A BLANKET BAN AT BEST AND IT DOESN'T NECESSARILY IMPROVE THE SYSTEM. DO THEY HAVE A POINT?

ZUHDI JASSER: WELL, THE CRITICS ARE THOSE WHO ARE AGAIN USING US MUSLIMS, VERY IDEALOGICALLY DIVERSE COMMUNITY. THEY'RE GOING TO READ INTO IT. IT'S ABOUT COUNTRIES IN WHICH THE MILITANT COMPONENT ARE JIHADISTS. AT THE END OF THE DAY THE FACT THAT IT MIGHT ENRAGE ISIS, OR I DON'T HAVE YOU IRAN TELLING US THIS IS GOING TO MAKE OUR ENEMIES HATE US AND BASICALLY APPLAUDING US. AT THE END OF THE DAY, HE RUNS ONE OF THE WORST OPEN AIR PRISONS ON THE PLANET WHICH IS IRAN. AND THEY TAKE ZERO REFUGEES. MOST OF THESE MUSLIM COUNTRIES ARE NOT TAKING ANY AND THEY'RE LECTURING TO US AND WE'RE WORRIED ABOUT WHAT THE RADICALS WOULD SAY? WE SHOULD WORRY ABOUT THE FREEDOM REBELS, THOSE WHO WANT FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY WOULD SAY. IF THEY SEE AN AMERICA STAND FOR LIBERAL MUSLIMS, THEN I THINK THAT WOULD BE SOMETHING THEY'D WANT TO SEE.

TED: ONE OF THE CRITICISMS HERE, IT FAILS TO DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN MAINSTREAM MUSLIM FOLKS AND THE JIHADISTS. IT'S BASICALLY CLOSING THE DOOR FOR SYRIAN REFUGEES PERIOD AND FOR THESE OTHER SIX COUNTRIES FOR 120 DAYS. THERE'S NO DIFFERENTIATION. AGAIN, DO THEY HAVE A POINT?

ZUHDI JASSER: SO THAT IS A REASONABLE CRITICISM AND I THINK ON PAPER IT LOOKED GREAT, THE IMPLEMENTATION. THE VERBIAGE COMING OUT OF THE ADMINISTRATION. THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN CLEAR WITH THEIR TALKING POINTS, WITH THEIR UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT THE CITY ON A HILL MEANS, WHAT AMERICA IS AS FAR AS EMBRACING IMMIGRANTS THAT ARE MUSLIM, MINORITIES, WHATEVER IT MIGHT BE. BUT THAT MESSAGING HAS BEEN HORRIBLE AND THE IMPLEMENTATION ON THE GROUND. THE FACT THAT VOTES WHO HAVE ALREADY BEEN VETTED AND HAVE VISAS WERE CAUGHT AT AIRPORTS SHOWS YOU -- I UNDERSTAND WHY THEY HAVE TO DO IT QUICKLY BECAUSE THEY DON'T WANT THE TERRORISTS TO GET A HEAD START OR THE MILITANTS TO GET A HEAD START. BUT THEY HAD A FEW WEEKS IN TRANSITION IF THEY DO THEY'RE GOING TO DO THIS EXECUTIVE ORDER TO ENGAGE THE COMMUNITY THAT'S GOING TO ENFORCE THIS ON THE FRONT LINES OF OUR BORDER SO -- BECAUSE IF THE MESSAGING IS WRONG IT ENDS UP HURTING MUSLIMS LIKE MYSELF.

TED: I WANT TO GET BACK TO THE MESSAGING HERE. SOME ARE SAYING THIS SIGNALS TO THE MIDDLE EAST IN GENERAL THAT WE, AMERICANS, ALL OF US, SEE MUSLIMS AS JIHADISTS. IS THAT SIGNAL, THOUGH, THERE?

ZUHDI JASSER: THERE IS A SIGNAL TO THE - I THINK ACTUALLY THE SIGNAL TO THE REFORMISTS ON THE GROUND, THE GRASS ROOTS WOMENS ORGANIZATIONS, THE REFORMISTS THAT ARE IN THE PRISONS OF SAUDI ARABIA AND SYRIA AND EGYPT AND ELSEWHERE THAT ARE TRUE ALLIES THAT WE DON'T KNOW WHAT WE'RE DOING, THAT WE DON'T GET THE MESSAGING RIGHT ABOUT WHO ARE OUR ALLIES. I DON'T CARE WHAT THE KING OF SAUDI ARABIA OR IRANIAN REGIME THINKS BECAUSE THEY'RE GOING TO HATE US NO MATTER WHAT. THEY'RE GOING TO SPREAD PROPAGANDA. ON THE FRONT PAGE IN SAUDI ARABIA IS A PICTURE ABOUT A DELI IN NEW MEXICO THAT SAID NO MUSLIMS ALLOWED. THEY SPREAD THOSE PROPAGANDA IDEAS. THE THEOCRATS WILL FIND ANYTHING TO SLIME THE UNITED STATES. WHAT WE CARE ABOUT IS WHAT DEMOCRACY-BELIEVING PEOPLE IN THE MIDDLE EAST THAT ARE TRYING TO REVOLT, TRYING TO COME HERE TO GET A BETTER LIFE BECAUSE WE'RE THAT BEACON ON A HILL WHAT THEY THINK.

TED: I WAS GOING TO SAY, RIGHT NOW THEY'RE PROBABLY WONDERING WHEN IS 120 DAYS OVER WITH. YOU COME FROM SYRIAN REFUGEES HERE. YOUR FAMILY WOULD NOT NOW BE ALLOWED OVER HERE.

ZUHDI JASSER: I CAN'T TELL YOU HOW -- HOW MUCH WE PRAY FOR THEM TO COME HERE. WE'RE WORKING ON GETTING SOME FAMILY HERE. BUT MAKE NO MISTAKE, DON'T LET THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION OR THE IDENTITY LEFT TELL YOU THAT THEY'VE BEEN DOING GREAT THINGS FOR THE SYRIAN REFUGEES IN THE LAST EIGHT YEARS.THEY BARELY HAD 10,000 IN LAST YEAR. OF THOSE 10,000, I WAS ON THE U.S. COMMISSION ON RELIGIOUS FREEDOM FOR FOUR YEARS. WE TRIED TO GET THEM TO INCREASE THAT NUMBER. NOW, TRUMP ADMINISTRATION CUT ITTO 50. AGAIN, I WOULD TELL YOU, AS SOMEBODY WHO IS CONCERNED ABOUT AMERICAN SECURITY AND ABOUT OUR MESSAGES, WHICH ARE TIED TO TOGETHER, IT IS BETTER TO GO SLOW SO THAT THE TENS OF THOUSANDS WE DO BRING IN BRING A MESSAGE OF WANTING FREEDOM AND LIBERTY RATHER THAN LETTING THE ISLAMISTS IN WHO WILL CAUSE CRIMES AS THEY DID IN SWEDEN AND BRITAIN AND ELSEWHERE. AS MUCH AS I WANT MY OWN FAMILY HERE, WE WANT ALSO WHAT'S IN OUR BEST INTEREST IS TO HAVE AMERICA SEE THOSE WHO COME IN HERE LAWFUL, FREEDOM LOVING AND SHARE OUR VALUES.

TED: YOU MENTION FAMILY AND THEIR COMMUNITY. TALK TO US ABOUT THAT COMMUNITY. WHAT ARE MOST FOLKS SAYING? I UNDERSTAND THERE'S PROBABLY A BIG A DIVIDE THERE AS THERE IS ANYWHERE. WHAT ARE YOU HEARING?

ZUHDI JASSER: WE'RE HEARING ON THE ONE SIDE, THERE ARE THOSE WHO SAY IT'S REFRESHING WHO JUST SAYS WHAT HE FEELS. ON THE OTHER SIDE, SAYING WHERE IS THE MUSLIM REPRESENTATION ABOUT WHAT'S AT STAKE HERE. IT'S NOT JUST THE SHIA JIHADISTS IN BED WITH THE RUSSIAN FASCISTS AND THE ISIS GUYS ON THE OTHER SIDE. THERE'S A MAJORITY OF SYRIANS IN THE MIDDLE. THAT'S WHO AMERICA, THE U.N. HAS ABANDONED. SAMANTHA POWER WROTE THE BOOK ON GENOCIDE AND WE TOTALLY IGNORED WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN SYRIA. MOST OF THE ARABIC COMMUNITY AND MUSLIMS I TALK TO SAY, LISTEN, THE WORLD DOESN'T REVOLVE AROUND PARTISAN ONE UPMANSHIP.

TED: OKAY. BUT THEY'RE UNDERNEATH THE PING-PONG BALL. WHAT ARE YOU HEARING? WHAT ARE THEY SAYING?

ZUHDI JASSER: GET IT RIGHT. AFTER 120 DAYS IS OVER, THEN WHAT? HAVE A COMMISSION ON RADICAL ISLAM, FINE. AND THEN BEGIN TO IMPLEMENT POLICIES THAT WOULD BE IN SYNERGY WITH THOSE WHO WANT UNIVERSAL HUMAN RIGHTS, ENGAGE OUR MUSLIM REFORM MOVEMENT WHICH TALKS ABOUT THE PRINCIPLES WE SHARE. BEGIN TO ENGAGE US. MANY OF US BELIEVE THAT ISLAM IS IN THAT TIME IN HISTORY THAT AMERICA WAS IN THE 18th CENTURY. IT IS VERY AMERICAN TO FIGHT THEOCRACY. WE ARE DOING THAT NOW. THE GREATEST LABORATORY TO DO THAT IS HERE IN AMERICA AND WE CAN'T GET PAST THE DYSFUNCTION IN WASHINGTON TO HAVE THAT EXERCISE DONE.

TED: WHEN THE WHITE HOUSE SAYS THIS IS NOT AN EXTREME ACTION. IT IS REASONABLE AND NECESSARY, YOU SAY?

ZUHDI JASSER: IT IS REASONABLE, IT IS NECESSARY. WHAT'S ON PAPER. THE IMPLEMENTATION AND THE -- THE TRAJECTORY IN WHICH WE'RE GOING NEEDS TO BE TELESCOPED TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. IT'S JUST LIKE THE IRAQ WAR. IT WAS WELL-INTENDED. THE FREEDOM AGENDA OF THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION VERY CLEAR. AT THE END OF THE DAY, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED WASN'T ACCOMPLISHED. HISTORY NOT REALLY LAYING OUT WHAT REALLY THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION AND AMERICAN SONS AND DAUGHTERS DID TO LIBERATE THE IRAQI PEOPLE. SIMILARLY NOW, IF THEY DON'T GET THE MESSAGING RIGHT, THE HISTORY WILL NOT BE THAT THEY HELPED DISCERN. I THINK RIGHT NOW LABELING ALL MUSLIMS AS ONE WHETHER YOU THINK THEY'RE ALL PEACEFUL OR MILITANT ACTUALLY CREATES A PHOBIA. IF YOU SAY THERE ARE JIHADISTS THAT ARE AGAINST US, MILITANT, AND NONVIOLENT AND MODERN WHO BELIEVE IN SECULAR SOCIETY AND ARE WITH US. THAT WILL DO MORE TO MELT AWAY BIGOTRY THAN ANY OF THIS NONSENSE.

TED: WHEN YOU HEAR -- WE'RE RUNNING OUT OF TIME HERE, BUT WHEN YOU HEAR PEOPLE SAY THIS IS NOT THE AMERICA I KNOW, THIS IS NOT THE AMERICA I LOVE, THIS IS NOT THE STATUE OF LIBERTY, THIS IS BUILDING WALLS, THIS IS A BLANKET, THEY CALL IT A BAN, WHATEVER IT MAY BE. THEY'RE SAYING THIS IS NOT THE AMERICA THAT THEY LOVE. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT?

ZUHDI JASSER: I COULDN'T DISAGREE MORE. AMERICA IS ABOUT THE -- THEY ARE FEEDING INTO THIS FACT THAT SOMEHOW IT'S A MUSLIM BAN. THE WORD MUSLIM ISN'T EVEN IN THERE. BE CAREFUL, USE FACTS. ANCHOR YOUR ARGUMENTS WITH FACTS. DON'T LET EMOTIONAL IDENTITY POLITICS IDENTIFY US. WE ARE NOT VICTIMS. WE ARE A COMMUNITY THAT HAS THE GIFT NOWHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD WHICH IS TO BE FREE AND REFORM IDEAS THAT THEY CAN'T DO IN ANY OTHER MUSLIM MAJORITY COUNTRY.

TED: HERE'S MY LAST QUESTION. THERE IS A SENSE THAT IT IS A RELIGIOUS BAN. IT DOESN'T MENTION MUSLIM AT ALL. THERE'S SEVEN PREDOMINANTLY MUSLIM COUNTRIES. RUSSIA IS NOT IN THERE, UKRAINE IS NOT IN THERE. ARE YOU CONCERNED THAT THERE IS AN IMAGE OF A RELIGIOUS BAN?

ZUHDI JASSER: NO, BECAUSE IT'S NOT A RELIGIOUS BAN. IT'S A THEOPOLITICAL ONE OF JIHADIST. IF MY FAMILY HAS PEOPLE RUSHING FROM NORTH ALEPPO THAT ARE SHIA JIHADISTS OF THE ASSADS, THEY'RE GOING TO FIGURE OUT WHAT THEY ARE. WHY SHOULD WE AS THE BEACONS OF LIBERTY AND THE HISTORY OF THE CONSTITUTION THEN HAVE THIS NATIONAL FRATERICIDE WHERE WE LET EVERYBODY IN. THEY BLAME TRUMP BY SAYING HE WAS CARVING OUT CHRISTIAN MINORITIES. THAT'S NOT TRUE. THE WORD CHRISTIAN IS NOT EVEN IN THERE. WE IDENTIFY THE VALUES OF PROTECTING PERSECUTED MINORITIES INCLUDING MINORITIES LIKE MY FAMILY WHO ARE PERSECUTED BY A SUNNI MAJORITY BECAUSE OF THEIR DISSIDENT VIEWS. AMERICA HAS DONE THIS BEFORE. WE CAN DO IT AGAIN.

TED: SO YOU SAY IT'S A PROUD MOMENT FOR AMERICA?

ZUHDI JASSER: THE CONVERSATION, THE WAY IT'S SCREAMING AT AIRPORTS AND USING US MUSLIMS AS A FOIL, THAT'S NOT A PROUD MOMENT. THE MOMENT IN WHICH WE START TO PEEL THE ONION OF THEOCRATIC ISLAM AND SAY THIS IS A BATTLE AGAINST THEOCRATS.

TED: GOOD TO HAVE YOU HERE.

ZUHDI JASSER: THANK YOU.

Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy.

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