By Anjum Niaz

Trump’s revised Muslim ban will probably meet the same fate as its January predecessor. It will have a still birth. But to single out one religion as Trump has done throughout his campaign and now as president is against the US constitution. Islamophobia is here to stay. Recently Mohammad Ali Jr and his mother appeared on CNN to talk about their grilling for 2 hours by the immigration authorities when they arrived from Jamaica at Fort Lauderdale airport in Florida. “What is your religion?” mother and son were questioned again and again. When both answered “Muslim,” they were further interrogated.

There was a time, decades ago, when the famous Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci not only unhinged bullies like Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Gen Ziaul Haq but got them to grovel at her feet! At the zenith of their glory, these demagogues with oversized egos, lusted after her to be interviewed and canonised as heroes of Islam before the world. They wooed, charmed, flirted and even stooped to conquer the hot-tempered Latin storied for her fierceness.

Fallaci, who died in 2006, became a recluse, living alone in a Manhattan apartment. A couple of years before her death, she broke her ten-year silence against Islam. Calling herself a writer and refusing to use the word “journalist” anymore, Fallaci divided her life between New York and Florence. September 11, 2002 after the collapse of the World Trade Center, Fallaci came out of retirement to write books and articles attacking Islam. Her writing spewed xenophobia, racism, and visceral paranoia in her controversial book The Rage and the Pride. Her anger and her cringing against Muslims exposed her ignorance of Islam. The same way as Trump and his supporters do today.

“I leave shreds of my soul on every experience,” wrote Fallaci when she was revered as an ace TV interviewer. Her persona radiated credibility that commanded respect. But her tendentious book The Rage and the Pride turned out to be too facile, too overwrought with touchy-feely sentiments to resonate deeply. “She assumes all the roles herself: a pitiless Cassandra, the tragically wronged heroine, the warrior who will turn vengeance into a scourge, burning the non-believers and laying waste to their lands with her violence and her passion. If she could find a way to hand out arms to her readers after they put the book down, she probably would,” wrote a testy book reviewer.

Her bigotry and polemics made her say things like “Italy for Italians” and her hate for Muslim immigrants made her portray them as invading and violating her native Florence: “Terrorists, thieves, rapists, ex-convicts, prostitutes, beggars, drug-dealers, contagiously ill” who have transformed Italy into “filthy kasbahs”. She even took a swipe at Yasir Arafat, stereotyping Arabs as dirty.

Fallaci was so anti-immigration, so anti-Islam that she singled out countries like Pakistan, Albania, Sudan, Bangladesh, Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria and Nigeria, calling the immigrants from these countries as “intruders who contribute to the drug trade and patronise prostitutes who spread AIDS.” Full of hate, fire and fury, she wondered whether Osama bin Laden paid all the Islamic immigrants passage to the West “for the mere purpose of establishing the Reverse Crusade’s settlements and better organising Islamic terrorism.”
For Fallaci each and every Muslim on the face of the earth is a “threat”!

Her book Interview with History was a bestseller for years. She once said that “The only ones [of her interviewees] I’ve had a civil relationship with, remain poor Ali Bhutto, the first prime minister of Pakistan, who was hanged because he was too friendly to the West, and the most excellent king of Jordan: King Hussein. But those two were as Muslim as I am Catholic.”

Prime Minister Bhutto’s famous interview with Fallaci was widely telecast on Pakistan Television. But few know that his blabbing got him in trouble. His loose lips gave away things to Fallaci about Indira Gandhi which almost put the Simla Agreement in jeopardy. We’re told that an alarmed Foreign Office frantically contacted the then Pakistan’s Ambassador to Italy, Brig Hamid Nawaz (father of the current Minister for Law and Justice and Minister of Climate Change and Shahid Hamid, senior counsel in Panamagate scandal case) over a weekend and sent him scurrying post haste in search of Fallaci all over Italy. Finally, the flustered envoy found Fallaci and begged her to expunge those remarks from her interview. She refused point blank and told our Ambassador to go take a flying leap!

Donald Trump is a clone of Oriana Fallaci. He is convinced that keeping people out from the six Muslim countries will keep America safe. But the most recent leaked report by the Homeland Security Department finds insufficient evidence to support claims that citizens of the seven and now six banned Muslim-majority countries pose a terror threat to America. The report concludes that citizenship was an “unlikely indicator” of terrorism threats to America, and that ‘few people from the countries Mr Trump listed in his travel ban have carried out attacks or been involved in terrorism-related activities in the US since Syria’s civil war started in 2011.’

The three-page report, while challenging President Trump’s claims of Muslims as terrorists said 82 people the government determined were inspired by a foreign terrorist group to carry out or try to carry out an attack in America, just over half were US citizens born in the country who were radicalised. “The others were from 26 countries, led by Pakistan, Somalia, Bangladesh, Cuba, Ethiopia, Iraq and Uzbekistan. Of these, only Somalia and Iraq were among the seven nations included in the ban.”

Pakistan is sadly quoted in the report as being one of the countries from where the odd terrorist originates to carry out attacks in America.

Afghanistan is another such country… Omar Mateen, an Afghan-American killed 49 people in a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, last year. The 29-year-old shooter identified himself as ‘Mujahideen’ who pledged his allegiance multiple times to the IS.