Donald Trump clearly has issues with Muslims. The latest example is his vow to ban all Muslim immigration to the United States, declaring he wants a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” Before that Trump had called for depriving American Muslims of civil liberties simply because of their faith by way of warrantless surveillance of Muslim Americans. And he has even gone as far as to indict all Muslims by declaring recently that “worldwide the Muslims were absolutely going wild” cheering on the 9/11 attacks.
But there’s one type of Muslim Trump really loves: The ones that make him big bucks. You see, if a Muslim can show Trump the money, then all those concerns he has with Muslims go right out the window of his private jet as he jets off to the Gulf to cash in.
For example, Trump loves Hussain Sajwani, head of the Dubai luxury real estate company Damac Properties. Trump has called the Muslim Sajwani a “good friend” and a “great man,” among other accolades. And in May 2014, The Donald even flew off to Dubai to spend time with his Muslim friend as they announced the massive real estate project they were teaming up to create in the United Arab Emirates.
And when I say massive project, I mean Trump-style “yuge!” This 42 million-square-foot development (the Pentagon is 6 million-square-feet) includes 104 villas and mansions that begin at more than $1 million U.S. dollars and climb to over $10 million a pop. The development also boasts the “Trump World Golf Club,” which Trump has described as a course that “will be bigger and better and stronger” than any other in the region. Interestingly, Trump has used almost identical words to describe how the U.S. military will look if he’s elected.
So how did Sajwani get Trump to forget that Muslims “worldwide” celebrated on 9/11? Simple, Sajwani paid Trump enough money to go from a scary Muslim to a “great guy.”
As Sajwani explained to the Dubai media, “We went to see him [Trump] and he signed with us.” While Sajwani refused to reveal the exact dollar amount Trump was paid, it must be big given that the Trump-named golf course has been dubbed the “centerpiece” of the project, complete with a luxury spa, restaurants, stores, etc. And just a few months ago, “Trump Private Mansions” went on sale starting north of $1 million each and are being touted as “the most distinguished address in Dubai,” with a view “overlooking the Trump International Championship” golf course.
While no one can find video of “thousands and thousands” of Muslims cheering on 9/11 in New Jersey as Trump claim happened, there’s plenty of video of Trump chilling with his Muslim BFF Sajwani. You can see the two laughing it up at the 2014 press conference in Dubai, riding in Trump’s special golf cart and posing for cameras as Trump gives a big thumbs up while praising Sajwani and Dubai.
Now while this may not trouble Trump, Sajwani was convicted in 2011 in an Egyptian court for getting an illegal sweetheart deal from an Egyptian government minster to buy government land he wanted to develop. Sajwani, who was tried in absentia, was sentenced to five years in prison, and the government minister who sold him the land was imprisoned for the crime of “squandering public funds.” Ultimately, however, the criminal conviction was “settled” in 2013 after a more receptive Egyptian government came to power.
But putting aside the criminal issue of Trump’s business partner, there are still questions about the working conditions for the migrant workers building these Trump homes. As most know, the working conditions for the migrant construction employees in Dubai can be horrific. Workers have been requited to work 14-plus-hour days in over 100 degree weather and live in barely habitable conditions.
In fact, at the 2014 press conference in Dubai announcing this project, a reporter from Vice asked about this issue point blank: “Mr. Trump, the workers who build your villas make less than $200 a month. Are you satisfied?” People in the room reportedly gasped at the question. Trump refused to answer, instead remaining stone-faced. The project’s publicist then told the reporter, “That’s not an appropriate question.”
But wealthy people in Dubai aren’t the only Muslims Trump adores. His company is looking at “multiple opportunities in Abu Dhabi, in Qatar, in Saudi Arabia.”
Trump teaming up with Saudi Arabia and Qatar is especially surprising given Trump’s purported concerns about Muslim terrorists. After all, 15 of the 19 hijackers who attacked America on 9/11 and killed nearly 3,000 Americans came from Saudi Arabia. Plus we all know about Saudi Arabia’s policies of oppression of women, even banning them from driving.
And the government in Qatar has in the past publicly funded the terrorist group Hamas and even allowed Hamas leader Khaled Meshal to live in the small Gulf country. But when big money is in play, Trump seems to ignore these issues.
I wonder how Trump palling around with Muslims in Saudi Arabia and Qatar will play with the GOP base? Will some Republicans and the media want more details about Trump’s Middle East deals and assurance that none of his business partners have made contributions directly, or indirectly, to terrorist groups? (Hamas is not even labeled a terrorist group in Dubai, so his partners could have legally supported the group.) Will they at least want to know if any of Trump’s Muslim business partners were cheering after the 9/11 attacks? And does Trump’s avowed ban on Muslims entering the United States also apply to his wealthy business partners?
Maybe they won’t care. Trump is the consummate salesman so maybe they understand that Trump would say one thing to Muslims he’s courting for their money and another to American voters he’s courting for their votes. After all, telling potential buyers what they want to hear is just good business.
Regardless of their reaction, the lesson for Muslim Americans is simple. If we want Trump to like us, we simply need to make it worth his while financially. Anyone want to join in me in starting a “huge” Kickstarter campaign to raise the money we need to get Trump to call us “good friends”?