American Twitter users have been using the hashtag “I will register” to signal opposition to the register of Muslims supposedly being considered by President-elect Donald Trump. This comes after a member of Trump’s transition team, Kris Kobach, told Reuters that the reinstatement of a database of immigrants from Muslim-majority countries is on the table.
The hashtag originally emerged last November, when Trump had expressed his support for the registration of Muslim American citizens. In the face of opposition, his campaign team quietly dropped this extreme measure.
However, it seems that it has reemerged in a form the American public is more likely to swallow. The new proposal, if Kobach’s remarks are anything to go by, would register immigrants from certain countries, not American citizens from a particular religion.
If the suggested registry was implemented, it would not be unprecedented. In fact, the Bush administration held a very similar database for ‘counter-terrorism’ after the 9/11 attacks. Bush's register recorded young male immigrants from a list of what he considered 'dangerous countries', all but one of which were Muslim. It was used to deport hundreds of Muslim men for civil disobediences, rather than terrorism offences, and raised considerable criticism for being discriminatory.
Non-Muslim Americans have used Twitter to express their opposition to the proposal, and their willingness to register as Muslims in order to resist the effective implementation of the registry.
A number of religious communities made their voices heard, including the Sikhs:
My faith teaches me to fight injustice and oppression whenever it occurs. I will not stand by as Muslims are dehumanized. #IWillRegister— Simran Jeet Singh (@SikhProf) November 16, 2016
As well as Christians:
And people of no religion:
I have no skin in the religion game but #iwillregister to stand against hatred and bigotry.— RESISTANCE (@TwoMiddlesUp) November 17, 2016
Some highlighted the unconstitutional nature of any discriminatory legislation.
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." #iwillregister— Henry Youngblood (@ApologeticUSofA) November 16, 2016
Others took the opportunity to highlight similarities between Donald Trump’s proposed policies towards Muslim and the anti-Jewish oppression that took place in Nazi Germany leading up to the Holocaust, which ultimately led to the murder of six million Jews:
Trump himself has called for “extreme vetting” of Muslim immigrants to the country, as well as a temporary ban on immigration from Muslim countries. His first ten days as President-elect have seen a sharp rise in islamophobic incidents, which have been largely condemned by rights campaigners. Nonetheless, it seems that islamophobic discrimination might well be made a feature of government under Trump, if the appointment of Islamophobic conspiracy-theorist Steven Bannon as a senior aide is anything to go by.
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