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Trump Wants ID Badges for Muslims But He’s Behind the Times


Over the past few days, many have expressed alarm about Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s remarks saying he would “absolutely” consider special ID registration for Muslims. But what seems to have been missed in the controversy is the fact that such a registration system already exists in quite a robust form.

The fact of the matter is the federal government already has many well-established programs that profile Muslims. Everything from the TSA’s secret No Fly List to the NYPD’s controversial Muslim Surveillance program consist of registries of Muslim individuals the government deems necessary to catalog and monitor. Often the Muslims being tracked in these registries have no suspected link to terrorism or any other illegal activity.

Since 2002, for example, the NYPD’s Muslim Surveillance program had a broad mandate to monitor Muslim community leaders, Muslim students, mosque attendees, even Muslim business owners. A large database was created to store all the information gathered on Muslims, including daily reports on certain innocent individuals. All this surveillance was deemed necessary by the NYPD because they believed that Muslims, by virtue of their religious beliefs, are more prone to become “radicalized” and, hence, engage in terrorism. (Of course, in reality, only a small percentage of domestic terror attacks are perpetrated by Muslims, and even those attacks stemmed from political motivations more than religious belief.)

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The NYPD Muslim surveillance program is one example, but its underlying logic is shared by many other federal agencies. Through Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing, it has been revealed that the NSA has multiple programs that specifically target Muslims for continuous monitoring. One program that was active between 2002 and 2008 monitored the email activity of thousands of American Muslims, some of whom were Muslim leaders, prominent Muslim attorneys, and overall upstanding US citizens. Another program gathered data on the internet browsing activity of Muslims in an attempt to harm the reputation of Muslim “radicals” who view sexually explicit material online.

We should also not overlook the fact that the NSA has been bulk data collecting the internet activity, telephone communications, social media behavior, etc., of hundreds of millions of individuals worldwide. All that data has been stored in searchable databases. This means that if an elected president or any other government body decides to mass register and track Muslims or any other minority or target group, they can do so at the flip of a switch. The data already exists in their databases, so it then becomes a trivial matter to filter all that data in order to focus on any particular group. That is the danger of mass surveillance and data collection. It is one small step away from becoming the kind of secret registry so many Americans associate with the Nazi program against European Jews.

Other federal programs that are alleged to profile American Muslims include the Department of Homeland Security’s Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) initiative. The ACLU and many Muslim groups believe that CVE unjustly profiles the American Muslim community and Muslim places of worship in its attempt to counter “homegrown radicalization.”

The infamous FBI informant and entrapment program, that many, including Rolling Stone, have described as “inventing terrorists,” also relies on profiling Muslim community members and infiltrating mosques that otherwise are not suspected of any wrongdoing, let alone radicalization.

In the final analysis, many today may be shocked and justifiably scared by Trump’s suggestion to profile and register Muslims. But the reality is, this kind of tracking and monitoring of American Muslims has been happening since 2001, mostly in secret, by numerous powerful federal agencies. Sure, no one has thus far required Muslims to carry special ID badges, but a physical badge is not strictly essential to the purpose of keeping second-class citizens under the thumb of draconian governmental authority. If Trump wants to a special registry for Muslims, he is fourteen years too late.

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  1. Peter

    November 21, 2015 at 4:19 AM


    Doesn’t Islam already demand that Muslims dress differently? So the most Muslims in the USA are easy to identify due to who they dress already.

    Both Donald Trump’s arguments and yours are both stupid.

    It would be like the Government demanding that a crescent moon be sewn onto every burka so the Government can Identify you as Muslim.

    Muslim distinctive dress norms of both men and mainly women, does more to isolate and identify as being Muslim, than any ID card demanded by a fool will ever achieve.

    • Daniel Haqiqatjou

      November 21, 2015 at 4:04 PM

      Which argument are you saying is stupid? Minority groups often have characteristics that distinguish them from others in the population. That is not the same thing as being labeled by a government agency, profiled, and tracked.

    • KeithB

      December 14, 2015 at 9:31 PM

      No, Islam doesn’t dictate dress in the manner you’re thinking of. There are some restrictions for both sexes such as women not being able to wear low cut v-neck blouses that show lots of cleavage, but wearing something like a burqha is tribal tradition only. Muslims normally wear what is cultural or traditional for the area in which they live or originate from. If anything Muslims should wear clothing that allows them to assimilate easier in the areas in which they’ll be living.

  2. francis Ayala

    November 21, 2015 at 11:17 AM

    The age of Internet devices and Islamic extremism have created a quandary. Trump’s idea may protect your family from explosives, chemical gas, or nukes someday, but also threatens the long term freedom of everyone. So, now we ponder physical security vs weakening our privacy laws. How will these people be stopped without information on them?

    • francis Ayala

      November 21, 2015 at 2:54 PM

      PS I’m not speaking of badges–only of broader electronic surveillance, which has some logic to it.

    • Daniel Haqiqatjou

      November 21, 2015 at 4:09 PM

      No, mass surveillance does not make us safer. Bulk data collection means that the communications of actual criminals are buried deep within all the rest of everyone’s communication that has been collected. There are more effective and efficient ways to gather intelligence on terrorists than spying on innocent people.

  3. Aksa

    November 23, 2015 at 3:28 PM

    Donald Trump may be an insane egomaniac unfit for office but he never asked for “ID badges for Muslims”

    • Daniel Haqiqatjou

      November 23, 2015 at 3:49 PM

      According to one interviewer who was the source of the story in The Hill, Trump “remained open toward registering U.S. Muslims in a database or giving them special identification identifying their faith.”

      Trump has not disputed that attribution, which you would think he would do if he really was opposed to the idea. The Snopes article is just arguing that there is nowhere on record that Trump literally said, “Muslims should wear special IDs.” That doesn’t mean he did not in fact say that — it just might not have been recorded verbatim in the interview and only summed up. And even if he didn’t literally say that, it doesn’t mean that he does not agree with that kind of a measure given that he has been asked about it multiple times and, hence, had multiple opportunities to explicitly rule it out by saying, for example, “I don’t believe Muslims should wear special IDs,” but he has refused to make that kind of statement.

      • Aksa

        November 24, 2015 at 11:11 AM

        Translation: “Just because he didn’t say that doesn’t mean he doesn’t mean it”. Which I would counter: “just because most Muslims don’t verbally support Islamic terrorism doesn’t mean they don’t support Islamic terrorism”. If I said that you’d call me a bigot and you’d be right. We cannot know the heart of a person; all we can look to is their recorded actions and words.

      • Daniel Haqiqatjou

        November 25, 2015 at 1:45 PM

        First of all, that is not a correct translation of what I wrote. The Hill maintains that Trump *did* say he was on board for Muslim IDs.

        Second of all, your analogy is not apt because Muslims are constantly denouncing terrorism. Trump has not denounced the idea of racially profiling Muslims. In fact, he has repeatedly asserted his intention to do so if he becomes president.

        Third, I agree we should be focused on Trump’s recorded actions and words and there is plenty of racist, anti-Muslim, anti-black recorded words we can scrutinize, including what he is reported to have said to The Hill and others.

  4. Tricia

    November 25, 2015 at 9:24 AM

    Trump wanting ID badges for Muslims is just as bad as Hitler having the Jews wear yellow Stars of David. Even if he didn’t say those exact words, Trump has made his beliefs very transparent. Xenophobia and bigotry spew from Trump’s mouth whenever he speaks. It makes my heart heavy to know that people’s misconceptions harbor fear and hatred.

  5. Isaac Ibrahimi

    December 18, 2015 at 8:27 PM

    Hey guys,

    This is a good article. There is just a question that i have that has been bugging me for sometime now, and I really hope someone answers it. It ties into the whole idea of religious persecution and current events.

    Is it true that the Prophet (pbuh), upon conquering Mecca, gave the polytheists a 4-month grace period to convert to Islam or to face expulsion from the Arabian peninsula? Also, is it true that he gave 10 of the Meccan polytheists the choice between converting to Islam or the death penalty? I saw this on some Sufi sites. Can someone please share their knowledge with me concerning this?


    • Waleed

      September 22, 2016 at 3:11 AM

      I recently watched Dr Yasir Qadhis Seerah series on youtube so I think I can reasonably answer one question. Also, youtube “Yasir Qadhi Seerah”, and either watch the entire series or just watch the parts related to the conquest of Mecca, because he tackled these questions of your with far more facts and details than I can even remember.

      Regarding the second question about the list of people in Mecca who must choose between “converting to islam or facing the death penalty”, this is was not the case. What happened was is that during the conquest the Prophet issued permission to the muslim army that they must/may kill 10 specific individuals upon sight. No need for trial or anything, these individuals can be executed upon visual confirmation. The question is why? The reason for this decision is that these 10 individuals had gone beyond doing simple evil. Some of these people had publicly converted to Islam,only to then betray the muslims by say killing a muslim and then fleeing to pagan Mecca for protection( they were murtads). Basically, these people had comitted crimes that were on the level that would make even the pagan, tribalism thumping arabs feel disgust (they had crossed all red lines so to speak).
      However, despite this permission, the majority of these 10 people somehow or another managed to convert to Islam before they got caught. And because after entering Islam all your previous sins are wiped clean, these people were then forgiven despite their numerous heinous crimes.

      Regarding the first question,my memory is not as clear on this specific question regarding the 4 month period.So again I reccomend you check out Dr Yasir Qadhis Seerah for an in depth answer.

      May Allah forgive me for any mistakes made here.
      Hope I answered at least one question.

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