Saba Ahmed, the founder of the Muslim Republican Coalition who endorsed American presidential candidate Donald Trump last January, says she will not withdraw her endorsement of him despite his offensive comments about women which became public last week.
On Friday, The Washington Post newspaper published a recording of Donald Trump speaking about women in offensive and lewd terms.
While Ahmed describes Trump’s comments as “very offensive to women”, she nevertheless defends Trump, saying that those comments “do not represent who he is”.
Speaking to Al Jazeera on Monday, Ahmed said she still hoped to see a Republican in the White House, and urged Republican Muslims to stick with the party’s official nominee.
She said Trump’s performance at Sunday night’s debate with Hillary Clinton was “strong” and that he made excellent arguments regarding the challenges confronting the nation, especially concerning the economy.
Arab and Muslim Americans are facing a dilemma between choosing a candidate who has repeatedly insulted them and said many negative things about them, and another who, while not saying the same things, has not been supportive of their rights and issues that affect their lives.
“In this election, we are forced to choose between which head of the dragon is less evil or more appealing,” says Amal Kassir, an Arab American social activist from Denver, Colorado.
Kassir said: “The hypocritical thing in this latest controversy is that the country went into an uproar only when Donald Trump insulted and degraded powerful and rich white women”.
Without naming names, she says those who are abandoning the Trump ship now and “denouncing his comments about white women, endorsed and supported him when he degraded and insulted blacks, Latinos, Muslims and refugees.”
She says Trump is not good for America, even though he might not be able to do what he said he would do against Latinos or Muslims.
“But the scary thing is that if he was elected, it means that his bigoted messages have gone mainstream, and the next thing you know is we have armed gangs in front of our churches and mosques.”
The Middle East question
For Ray Hanania, a Palestinian-American journalist from Chicago, the issue is not about Trump’s offensive comments about women, which he denounces, but about change.
Hanania says that the question of morality is a moot point in American politics.
“For us, Arabs and Muslims, the real objective for us is change, and Trump represents a better chance for our community to introduce real change in the policies of the US government especially in the Middle East,” he told Al Jazeera.
As for Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, Hanania, a Democrat, says she is no better than Trump when it comes to offending women.
“Trump said lewd things about women, but Bill Clinton actually did bad things to women and Hillary defended him for it,” he says.
Hanania also criticises President Barack Obama, labelling him a failure because, according to him, he failed to achieve any progress in the Middle East.
Obama succumbed to Israeli pressure and abandoned his own peace efforts, Hanania said.
The difference between Democrats and Republicans, he says, is that Democrats would typically give you “happy talk, while Trump, the Republican, is blunt and insulting.
“But both are essentially the same”.
Follow Ali Younes on Twitter @Ali_reports