A prominent American Muslim leader suggested earlier this month that American Muslims could face persecution similar to what the Jews endured in Nazi Germany.
Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, made the comparison during a March 23 speech at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., according to the Triad City Beat.
"The past two years, ladies and gentlemen, so many minorities have been attacked," Awad said. "Latinos. Mexicans. Women have been denigrated. African-Americans. People with disabilities. You name the minority, and they have been attacked in the past two years."
The Muslim leader blamed President Donald Trump and his "Islamaphobic" policies for the alleged "denigration" of minority communities.
Just weeks after taking office, Trump issued an executive order temporarily banning travel to the U.S. from seven Muslim countries in the Middle East: Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. A federal judge in Washington state halted the order, prompting the administration to later remove Iraq from the list of seven countries in a new, revised executive order. A federal judge in Hawaii put a restraining order on the revised travel ban.
“It is becoming dangerous because we see Islamaphobic policies are being produced, proposed and implemented," Awad said, according to the Winston-Salem Chronicle. "This is not only threatening to American Muslims, it’s threatening to what America is and our values."
Awad called it "unfortunate" that some people resort to what he called "fear-mongering for political reasons," noting, however, that "it works."
"Sometimes selling fear is effective. Fear is abhorred, is rejected by people with common sense," he said. "For people who don’t know, it is a very selling product. In fact, it is a very profitable business to sell hate."
The CAIR leader then likened the current environment for Muslims in the U.S. to what it may have been like early on for Jews in Nazi Germany:
We have seen it unfortunately in the past 100 years. We’ve seen it in Germany — what hate and hate-mongering start and what they lead to. The Holocaust in Europe did not start with acts of violence. The Holocaust started with false propaganda against Jews in Europe.
Some 6 million Jews died during the Holocaust, including as many as 1.5 million children, according to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
About 1 percent of the U.S. population — or about 3.3 million people — identified as Muslim as recently as 2015, according to Pew Research Center. That share is projected to grow to 2.1 percent by 2050.