Donald Trump Accidentally Rallies the U.K. Against Islamophobia

His comments have sparked a backlash against discrimination of Muslims.

Donald Trump; Parliament building in London. (Photos: Jonathan Drake/Reuters; Getty Images)

Dec 9, 2015· 2 MIN READ
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

Britain seems to have found unlikely inspiration in the fight against Islamophobia: Donald Trump.

Although Trump’s proposal to block all Muslims from entering the United States has been condemned around the world, his subsequent comments during a Tuesday-morning interview on MSNBC seem to have really angered British citizens. “We have places in London and other places that are so radicalized that the police are afraid for their own lives,” said Trump.

An online petition asking Parliament to ban Trump from the U.K. because of his “hate speech” has amassed more than 304,000 signatures since it launched on Tuesday. The petition, which is hosted on the U.K. government website, easily has surpassed the 100,000-signature requirement needed to trigger a debate in Parliament.

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“The UK has banned entry to many individuals for hate speech. The same principles should apply to everyone who wishes to enter the UK,” reads the petition. “If the United Kingdom is to continue applying the 'unacceptable behaviour' criteria to those who wish to enter its borders, it must be fairly applied to the rich as well as poor, and the weak as well as powerful.”

Using the hashtag #TrumpFacts, Brits took to social media to have a little fun with Trump's claim.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn took to Twitter on Tuesday to ask Brits to "unite against racism." London Mayor Boris Johnson also spoke out against the remarks. "As a city where more than 300 languages are spoken, London has a proud history of tolerance and diversity and to suggest there are areas where police officers cannot go because of radicalization is simply ridiculous," said Johnson in a statement on Tuesday.

Although a formal debate on the petition hasn’t been scheduled, the issue was raised during a session of Parliament on Wednesday morning.

“It’s my understanding that the Home Secretary has banned 84 hate preachers from entering the U.K. Will the government lead by example in considering making Mr. Donald Trump number 85?” asked Member of Parliament Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh.

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Chancellor George Osborne responded that he didn’t believe a ban was in order. “I think the best way to confront the views of someone like Donald Trump is to engage in a robust democratic argument with him about why he is profoundly wrong about the contributions of American Muslims and indeed British Muslims,” said Osborne. “And that is the best way to deal with Donald Trump and his views rather than trying to ban presidential candidates.”

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Trump’s views seem to represent the sentiments of plenty of Brits. There was a 300 percent increase in hate crimes against Muslims in the U.K. in the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks. A report released in late November from the U.K.-based Islamic Human Rights Commission found that an “environment of hate” is the norm for British Muslims.

Nearly 60 percent of Muslims surveyed for the report “felt they had experienced being treated with suspicion or being wrongly accused of something.” Two-thirds said they had experienced verbal abuse because of their background, up from 39.8 percent in 2010, and just over half said they believe politicians condone discrimination against Muslims in the U.K.