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‘Radical Islamic Terrorism’ becomes an important issue in the ongoing 2016 US Campaign

President Barack Obama has consistently refused to describe attacks by Muslims in the U.S. as "radical Islamic terrorism,"

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President Barack Obama, left, speaks to members of the media in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, June 13, 2016. source: VOA
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  • The fight over how to describe Muslim terrorist acts in the US has affected the country’s 2016 presidential race in the aftermath of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history
  • President Barack Obama has consistently refused to describe attacks by Muslims in the U.S. as “radical Islamic terrorism”
  • Clinton said she had no problem using the term “radical Islamism” as the impetus behind terrorist attacks carried out by Muslims

The fight over how to describe Muslim terrorist acts in the United States has quickly consumed the country’s 2016 presidential race in the aftermath of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, with Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump offering divergent thoughts.

President Barack Obama, a Democrat nearing the end of two terms as the American leader, has consistently refused to describe attacks by Muslims in the U.S. as “radical Islamic terrorism,” so as not to denounce the entire Muslim religion and its 1.6 billion adherents around the world.

He maintained that stance, even as U.S. authorities say an American-born Muslim who was the son of Afghan parents shot 49 people to death and injured 53 more at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, early Sunday. In the hours after the mayhem ended with police killing the suspect, Omar Saddiqui Mateen, Obama described Mateen’s assault as “an act of terror and an act of hate.”

Obama’s Republican critics have often belittled his parsing of the language in describing terrorist attacks, saying it represents weakness in combating a mortal threat to Americans, even as he has ordered a steady round of armed drone attacks against suspected terrorists in the Mideast.
Donald Trump. wikimedia commoms
Donald Trump. wikimedia commoms

Trump, the brash billionaire real-estate mogul who surged to the top of the Republican presidential field with a call to block Muslims from entering the country, dared Obama to change his language about Muslim-launched attacks as the extent of the Orlando carnage became known.

“Is President Obama going to finally mention the words radical Islamic terrorism?” Trump tweeted Sunday, June 12. “If he doesn’t he should resign immediately in disgrace.”

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In another tweet, Trump said, “Appreciate the congrats for being right on Islamic terrorism, I don’t want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!”

Hillary Clinton. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Hillary Clinton. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Clinton changes rhetoric

Until Monday, Clinton, the U.S. secretary of state during Obama’s first term in office from 2009 to 2013, had also rejected use of the term “radical Islamic terrorism.” But in the wake of the Orlando attack, she altered her description of such terrorist actions.

Clinton, in several news show interviews, said she had no problem using the term “radical Islamism” as the impetus behind terrorist attacks carried out by Muslims. But she said that words mattered less than actions to combat terrorism and that the United States cannot “demonize, demagogue and declare war on an entire religion.”

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“I have clearly said many, many times we face terrorist enemies who use Islam to justify slaughtering innocent people. We have to stop them and we will. We have to defeat radical jihadist terrorism or radical Islamism, whatever you call it,” she told one interviewer.

“And from my perspective, it matters what we do, not what we say. It matters that we got bin Laden, not what name we called him,” Clinton said.

Clinton, seeking to become the first female U.S. president, said that if Trump “is somehow suggesting I don’t call this for what it is, he hasn’t been listening. I have clearly said we face terrorist enemies who use Islam to justify slaughtering people. We have to stop them and we will. We have to defeat radical jihadist terrorism, and we will.” (VOA)

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Why Does Trump Separate Families, A Policy Or A Law?

A video released Monday by Customs and Border Protection

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In this photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, people who've been taken into custody related to cases of illegal entry into the United States, rest in one of the cages at a facility in McAllen, Texas, June 17, 2018.
In this photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, people who've been taken into custody related to cases of illegal entry into the United States, rest in one of the cages at a facility in McAllen, Texas, June 17, 2018. VOA

The Trump administration at least since April has been separating children and parents who enter the United States illegally at the border — that much is supported by the numbers. But much of everything else surrounding the practice has become mired in confusion.

Here is what we know:

In recent weeks, news stories of children in detention centers have circulated more widely, and the numbers of detained children have grown.

Department of Homeland Security officials told reporters Friday that between April 19 and May 31 of this year, nearly 2,000 (1,995) children were separated from their parents or other adults with whom they were traveling.

A video released Monday by Customs and Border Protection shows what appears to be humane conditions at a shelter site for children, but many worry that this video, the only video that has been released from within one of the detention centers, may not accurately depict them.

A policy or a law?

As criticism over the separation of parents and children at the border grows, the Trump administration has struggled to explain the policy.

Trump, himself, said the practice is the result of a law passed by Democrats, which has forced his administration into separating parents and children.

But there is no such law.

Rather in May, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a “zero-tolerance” policy, which means that those detained entering the United States illegally would be criminally charged. This approach generally leads to children being separated from their parents because the law requires it.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks about religious liberty at the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center's annual leadership mission in Washington, June 13, 2018
Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks about religious liberty at the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center’s annual leadership mission in Washington, June 13, 2018, VOA

On Sunday, senior policy adviser to the Trump administration Stephen Miller told The New York Times that the crackdown “was a simple decision by the administration to have a zero-tolerance policy for illegal entry. Period.”

Administration officials, including Miller and Sessions, have defended the separation of families, saying that having children does not exempt anyone from the consequences of breaking the law.

“If you cross the border unlawfully, even a first offense, we’re going to prosecute you. … If you don’t want your child to be separated, then don’t bring them across the border illegally,” Sessions told a gathering of the Association of State Criminal Investigative Agencies.

The administration has said the new practice is directed at combating a “surge” of unlawful border crossings. But the “surge” appears to be numbers marking a return-to-normal after a dip last year.

Not a new idea

Though the practice of treating all people who cross the border unlawfully as subject to criminal prosecution is new under the Trump administration, it is built on existing policies from the Bush and Obama administrations.

Amid a surge of unlawful migration from Central America to the United States in 2014, the Obama administration considered many plans to deter illegal border crossings, including separating parents and children. Ultimately, Obama decided against separations but did expand the detention of immigrant families. New facilities were opened along the border, which held women and children for long periods of time before their cases were processed.

Following widespread criticism after photos of detained women and children, accompanied by testimonies of people being held for extended periods, a federal judge in Washington effectively ruled that asylum-seeking mothers could not be held for longer than 20 days, leading to what has been called a “catch and release” system where adults were released with GPS ankle monitors tracking their movements until their cases could be heard in court.

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen speaks at the National Sheriffs' Association convention in New Orleans, Louisiana, June 18, 2018.
=U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen speaks at the National Sheriffs’ Association convention in New Orleans, Louisiana, June 18, 2018. VOAU.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen speaks at the National Sheriffs’ Association convention in New Orleans, Louisiana, June 18, 2018.VOA

But this “catch and release” system has been heavily criticized by Trump and his administration.

Also read: Trump Launched A New Attack On Mueller Probe In Russia

“This get out of jail free card for families and groups who pose as families has spread,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen. “The word of this has spread. The smugglers and traffickers know these loopholes better than our members of Congress. I’m sad to say that from October 2017 to this February, we have seen a staggering 315 percent increase in illegal aliens fraudulently using children to pose as family units to gain entry into this country. This must stop,” she said. (VOA)