His views on Islam may have caused outrage across the world, but Chris Burn meets one young Muslim who is still prepared to give his vote to Donald Trump.
DonalD trump may not be the obvious figurehead for improving US race relations. Following last December’s California shootings, which saw 14 people killed by a Muslim couple believed to have been radicalised, the tycoon decided he had the perfect answer to the country’s security issues.
Issuing a campaign statement, he called for a halt to Muslims entering the country, adding that the “total and complete shutdown” should remain until the US authorities could “figure out” Muslim attitudes to the US.
Criticism from the White House and Trump’s fellow Republicans was swift, but there was more to come. This summer, the presidential hopeful invited further outrage when he mocked the mother of a dead US Muslim soldier. Ghazala Kahn stood in dignified silence as her husband made an emotional speech at the Democratic National Convention about their son who had been killed by a car bomb in Iraq aged just 27. However, Trump suggested Mrs Kahn may not have been allowed to speak.
However, it seems his views have not put everyone off. Ziyad Azeez, a Muslim student from New York who is studying in Washington DC, has said he almost certain to support Trump as he votes for the first time in a Presidential election. He admitted his views were ‘uncommon’, but insisted he was not alone in supporting the Republican candidate, pointing to a poll earlier this year which suggested 11 per cent of the nation’s 3.3m Muslims were backing Trump.
“He has made mistakes,” says the 21-year-old. “He shouldn’t have said what he did to the Kahn family after that speech and I think he got it wrong when he said ‘Islam hates us’. But overall I think he is anti-terrorism rather than anti-Islam.”
Trump did later soften his position on a total ban, and Ziyad said he was supportive of his refined position, which has seen him call for a tougher new screening test for arrivals to the US. Trump does, however, still want an outright ban on immigrants from countries with a ‘history of terror’.
“When it comes to the vetting policy, I think that is a good position, vetting people from parts of the world. He is anti-terrorism and takes a hard line stance on terrorism. That is where he is coming from.”
While Trump’s attitudes to Muslims have attracted widespread ridicule, much of the rest of his White House wishlist has struck a chord with many Americans who feel let down by the current administration and who feel that Hillary Clinton will only offer more of the same.
“I am supportive of much else that Trump says,” adds Ziyad, who is a registered Republican. “My biggest issues are the Supreme Court, immigration, terrorism and the issue of political correctness. I don’t trust Hillary Clinton.
“Look at her approach to law and order or foreign policy. With the Democratic party it seems the cops are wrong and the criminals are right. Everything is upside down about the Democratic party. I don’t want to live through eight years of Hillary Clinton, hearing about scandal after scandal. Look at her record in Libya, Iraq and Syria. She is more hawkish than President Obama - that is a very bad thing. People are tired of war, tired of unnecessary interventions.”
The news that the FBI has reopened its investigation into Clinton’s use of a private server has given Trump an unexpected boost. Latest polls suggest that while Clinton is still the favourite to become the 45th American president, there are fears with the Democrat Party that she might yet snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
“I think Trump could pull this off,” adds Ziyad. “There will be a state that might cause a surprise. I want to make my own vote count.”