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Ruqaya Izzidien

No Eid Mubarak for Londoners with Trump in town

'Those in power have failed to check their allegiances' writes Izzidien [Getty]

Date of publication: 4 June, 2019

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Comment: Each time we entertain this lecherous, racist uncle at Great Britain's dinner table, we signal that his views are acceptable, writes Ruqaya Izzidien.
Rolling out the red carpet for the orchestrator of the Muslim ban as Britain's 3 million Muslims celebrate Eid-al-Fitr is the gut-punch to an already universally unappealing state visit.

Eid-al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan, in which Muslims fast during daylight hours. According to Islamic belief, during this month, the devil is chained up, and released when it ends.

But it looks like we got two evils for the price of one this Eid.

President Trump kicked off his state visit to Britain with a traditional twitter tirade, this time with Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, in the crosshairs.

It comes two days after an Observer column by Khan criticised Mr Trump's policies and compared his incendiary language to that of "the fascists of the 20th century." Khan also released a video that championed diversity and women's rights, addressing Trump by saying, "When you're the President of the USA you have a massive leadership role, you have a massive platform as well; people follow what you do."

Trump's response to critical political analysis was to call Khan "nasty," "a stone cold loser," "who should focus on crime in London, not me."

If I were Sadiq Khan I'd be clapping back that the two aren't mutually exclusive. 

But Trump's tweets were more than just a lesson in taking the moral low ground; the narrative that he chose to establish as he landed in Stansted Airport was one that unwittingly speaks volumes about his claim to "look forward to being a great friend to the United Kingdom." This a friendship that does not extend to Britain's Muslims.

This a friendship that does not extend to Britain's Muslims

Following the London Bridge terror attack in 2017, the Mayor of London warned Londoners not to be alarmed by an increased armed police presence, which Mr Trump misconstrued in a tweet: "At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is 'no reason to be alarmed!'."

The latest attack on Sadiq Khan is more than a petty insult; it compounds Mr Trump's Islamophobia, it reinforces the implication that the most senior Muslim politician in the UK is detached and indifferent to terrorism. That no matter your achievements, your Britishness, or your track-record, a British Muslim is always inherently associated with terrorism.

Travelling in his aptly named car, The Beast, President Trump's tour will take him to Buckingham Palace, St James' Palace and Downing Street, as he meets the Queen, Prince Charles, Theresa May, taking tea and attending a banquet. His arrival at Buckingham Palace was marked with a 41-gun salute.

President Trump's three-day state visit includes lunch with the Queen, and a state banquet
at Buckingham Palace [Getty]

Will the US President meet a single person of colour on this state visit?

Our reception of the US President in our most venerated buildings perpetuates the delusion that one can be a friend to Britain, while rejecting its minorities, and while vilifying Muslims.

The absence of any non-white Britons (let's be real, they probably couldn't find one willing) only further compounds his impression that ethnic minorities live in seclusion in violent no-go zones, and do not, in fact, contribute to governance, policy, journalism, education, finance and business.

In this bleak microcosm of British tolerance, the government, the royals, and those with power fail to check their allegiances, call out their own stand up for the rights of every Britain. And it's left to Sadiq Khan to shoulder the responsibility of calling out his own dehumanisation.

Will the US President meet a single person of colour on this state visit?

Each time we entertain the lecherous, racist uncle at Great Britain's dinner table, we signal that his views are acceptable, his policies legitimate, and his white supremacy has a home in London.

But this state visit goes beyond misplaced politeness at the family reunion. It was an invitation extended by our own Prime Minister, facilitated by the Conservative government and by Buckingham Palace. The message to Mr Trump: Even when you promote the far right, even when you break protocol to support a leader ahead of an election, even when your legacy is to dehumanise, separate and vilify minorities, you will always be welcomed with a red carpet.

We must ask, how low must President Trump sink before he is treated with the disdain that he deserves?

If there is any hope of avoiding the disastrous example of intolerance set out by Trump's Muslim ban, his support for white supremacists, and his separation of families at the US border, the British state needs to take a leaf out of the books of the tens of thousands of protestors who marched in protest of Trump's visit today.

They must hold him to account for his policies and views, which are incompatible with British values. Instead of flattering his ego with oversized canons and grandiose banquets, our leaders must call out the injustice they claim to oppose.

Ruqaya Izzidien is a British-Iraqi freelance writer specialising in social and cultural affairs. Her work has been published in The New York Timesthe Guardian, the BBC and Al Jazeera English.

Her debut novel The Watermelon Boys, published by Hoopoe Fiction is out now. 

Follow her on Twitter: @RuqayaIzzidien

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.

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