Trump border controls no borderline issue in Arab world

Trump border controls no borderline issue in Arab world
Updated 03 November 2016

Trump border controls no borderline issue in Arab world

Trump border controls no borderline issue in Arab world

JEDDAH: Donald Trump’s controversial declaration that, as president, he would ban Muslims from entering the US prompted a global wave of anger — not least, of course, in the Arab world.
But in an ironic twist, it appears that people in the Middle East and North Africa actually support Trump-style border controls when it comes to their own countries.
The Arab News/YouGov US election MENA poll, commissioned by this newspaper, questioned 3,017 people about their views on the key policies held by Trump and his rival for the US presidency, Hillary Clinton. The candidates’ names were, crucially, not specified in the poll questions.
A surprise finding was that 90 percent of the respondents said they did not mind extra border restrictions or measures if they felt their country’s security was under threat from a certain nationality or group.
That means that border control, along with the issue of abortion, was one of the issues on which Arab citizens broadly agree with Trump — despite just 9 percent of respondents overall saying they would vote for the Republican candidate if given the chance.
Commentators acknowledged the irony of the findings — but said that it was understandable that Arab citizens might be concerned about national security.
“There is an irony there for sure,” Ziad Asali, president and founder of the American Task Force on Palestine, told Arab News.
“But I can see that the last couple of decades have threatened the status quo in the Middle East, the MENA region, as far as the borders are concerned.”
The commentator said that the issue of border controls is likely to resonate with people in the Arab world “more than ever.”
“It has been a new experience for the people, this idea of having porous borders where people come in and leave without government approval, consent or even consultation,” Asali said.
Lee Smith, a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute in the United States, said that border control was an issue worldwide.
“Border control is a concern of all sorts of people around the world at different times. Saudi Arabia has borders. And I can understand why people in Saudi Arabia would think that patrolling one’s borders is an important thing,” he told Arab News.
“If that’s one of the concerns of different Middle Eastern citizens I certainly understand that. Everyone should be concerned about their own borders and whether or not they are being protected.”
Trump prompted waves of headlines globally when he last year called for a “complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”
Asali said that such statements were typical of an election campaign marred by previously “unspeakable” discourse.
“The tone of this campaign in general has been unique and unparalleled in the past, as far as how many issues that would fall under ‘political correctness’ have been shattered,” he said.
“The unspeakable has become spoken — and has been defended publicly.”