Ivanka Trump, daughter of U.S. President Donald Trump and member of his administration, recently visited the United Arab Emirates to take part in the Global Women's Forum.
During her visit, Miss Trump met with women business leaders, delivered a keynote speech on female empowerment, and visited the country's largest mosque. She made sure to take a few snapshots of her visit to Abu Dhabi's famed Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, and just as the protocol has it, she donned a hijab.
She did it as a sign of respect to the rules of the mosque, not out of respect for Muslim women. The latter may seem like an arrogant claim made by a woman (me) who lives in a tiny land situated hours by plane from the UAE. But looking back at Ivanka's history, whether by blood (her father) or by conscious decisions, that claim is really just a modest one.
Miss Trump works for her father's administration and is part of his ruling system which has marginalized Muslims at full speed. No one has forgotten about Trump's draft executive order that favored the banning of people from certain Muslim-majority countries. After being revised several times, a third version of the so-called travel ban actually went into effect on Dec. 8, 2017. And Miss Trump didn't distance herself from such an administration. No, she chose her job and power over equality.
This travel ban broke families apart and led to a rise in Islamophobic attitudes in the U.S. If Miss Trump thought those Islamophobic narratives would be brushed aside with a head garb, well, she was wrong.
Trump (aka Ivanka's father) is an Islamophobic bigot. His role as president means his words matter to the people and he's been using his power to spread hate against Muslims. Miss Trump doesn't seem to be doing anything in her power to change that. So via the well-known transitive law, she is complying with his strategies.
The number of immigrant visas issued to nationals of the stated Muslim countries (Iran, Syria, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia) significantly dropped following the ban. Last year, it was revealed that 31,000 people have been denied entry under Trump's travel ban. The ban in place resonates with all Muslims, regardless of whether their country is on the list.
The anti-Muslim rhetoric has been painting a different environment for Muslim-Americans, and it only got worse under Trump's presidency.
Yet, Ivanka shamelessly visits Muslim-majority countries and pretends to be "respectful" by complying with the laws of the spaces she visits. In November 2019, she visited Morocco to preach women's rights to a community she probably thinks lacks "white empowerment." Just months later, she visited yet another Muslim country (the UAE) to do pretty much the same thing. Putting her sense of entitlement aside, the real issue at hand is the hypocrisy of her visits.
Muslims in the aforementioned countries welcomed her with open arms, but why can't the U.S. welcome all Muslims in the same manner? It's true that Morocco and the UAE are not among the banned countries, but it's not about who is on the list and who is not. It's about treating all Muslims in the same manner. It's about disassociating terrorism with an entire community.
What is Miss Trump doing visiting Muslim-majority countries if the administration she's associated with fears, hates, and synonymizes Muslims with terrorists? Even worse, an administration that has prompted a spike in hate crimes against Muslims in the U.S.
A 2018 study published by researchers at the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom revealed that Trump's anti-Muslim tweets were a reliable predictor of the level of attacks against Muslims during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, and onward into the first few months following his election. Over the years, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has reported an unparalleled rise in bigotry targeting Muslim-Americans, immigrants, and other minority groups since he was elected president.
Ivanka Trump has attempted to flaunt support towards the Muslim community in the U.S. and even wished them a "happy Eid" last year. But her hypocrisy hasn't slid past people in the past.
"Your father is bigoted against Muslims of all nationalities. Your duplicity is despicable," one user wrote in response to her Eid tweet.
Ivanka's official title is "Senior Advisor to the President," but as the BBC points out, the fact that she is the president's daughter suggests her role is much bigger than just the name. She has defended her role in her father's administration previously and has voiced support for the president as well, saying she believes he is "helping all Americans."
Maybe she meant only people who fit his mold of what an American should be. She has even backed her father against charges of racism after he obviously said racist things. So is her judgment on such issues really credible? If she can't tell the difference between a racist and non-racist ... can she really tell the difference between Islamophobic decisions and inclusive ones?