theguardian : Peter Thiel takes Donald Trump’s Muslim ban ‘seriously but not literally’

The billionaire tech investor in a speech painted a dark picture of America as he praised the GOP nominee as a ‘political outsider’ who would reverse US decline

 

 

Peter Thiel has defended his support of Donald Trump, dismissing concerns about the Republican nominee’s anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim campaign positions as the result of the media “taking Trump literally” but not “seriously”.

Thiel used a speech Monday at the National Press Club in Washington to praise the Republican candidate as a “political outsider” who would reverse America’s decline.

“It is not a lack of judgment that leads Americans to vote for Trump,” the PayPal co-founder and billionaire tech investor said, referencing the presidential candidate’s boast that he could sexually assault women without consequence. “We’re voting for Trump because we judge the leadership of our country to have failed.”

Thiel’s speech came in response to a firestorm of criticism in Silicon Valley over his pledge to donate $1.25m to the Trump campaign on 15 October. The timing of the donation, just days after numerous women made allegations of sexual assault or misconduct against Trump, prompted many within the tech industry to call for companies such as Facebook and Y Combinator to sever ties with the investor.

Thiel acknowledged the criticism in his speech, complaining that “louder voices have sent a message that they do not intend to tolerate the views of one half of the country” and pointing out that an op-ed in the Advocate said Thiel was “an example of a man who has sex with other men” but was “not a gay man” because of his politics.

“The lie behind the buzzword of diversity could not be made more clear,” he said. “If you don’t conform then you don’t count as diverse, no matter what your personal background.”

“Diversity” is a charged concept for Thiel. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, who has Thiel on his board of directors, defended his politics as an important part of his company’s diversity. In his 1995 book The Diversity Myth: Multiculturalism and Political Intolerance on Campus, Thiel wrote: “Real diversity requires a diversity of ideas, not simply a bunch of like-minded activists who resemble the bar scene from Star Wars.”

 

In his speech, Thiel painted a dark picture of America, referencing the country’s “overpriced healthcare system”, student debt crisis and stagnant wages for American workers. He criticized free trade policies that he said had resulted in “the heartland [being] devastated” and lambasted the “wasting of trillions of dollars of taxpayer dollars on faraway wars”.

He categorized the country’s problems as a series of “bubbles” akin to the housing bubble or the dotcom bubble and criticized the “heedlessness” of the elite in ignoring them. Current “bubbles” threatening the country include the “trade bubble”, “war bubble”, “immigration bubble” and “globalization bubble”, he said.

“It shouldn’t be surprising to see people vote for Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump, who is the only outsider left,” he said, later adding that he would have liked to see Trump and Sanders face off in the general election “because I think both of them viscerally felt the decline”.

Throughout the speech, and during a later question-and-answer session, Thiel glossed over some of Trump’s most prominent and controversial statements.

Asked about Trump’s statements proposing the construction of a wall on the US-Mexico border and a ban on all Muslims entering the country, Thiel suggested that Trump supporters do not actually endorse those policies.

“I don’t support a religious test. I certainly don’t support the specific language that Trump has used in every instance,” he said. “But I think one thing that should be distinguished here is that the media is always taking Trump literally. It never takes him seriously, but it always takes him literally.”

The billionaire went on to define how he believes the average Trump supporter interprets the candidate’s statements. “I think a lot of voters who vote for Trump take Trump seriously but not literally, so when they hear things like the Muslim comment or the wall comment their question is not, ‘Are you going to build a wall like the Great Wall of China?’ or, you know, ‘How exactly are you going to enforce these tests?’ What they hear is we’re going to have a saner, more sensible immigration policy.”

During his speech at the Republican national convention, which Thiel attended as a keynote speaker, Trump was interrupted with chants of “Build a wall.”

Thiel also defended Trump’s failure to release his tax returns, saying that we know enough about the candidate’s business dealings. “We can debate how many zeros he has in his net worth, but he has a lot,” Thiel said.

The investor, who initiated a secret legal campaign against Gawker after the publication outed him as gay, asserted that “we have a less talented group of people” running for office today because of the media taking transparency in a “toxic” direction.

He also defended his secret funding of the lawsuit, brought by the wrestler Hulk Hogan, that bankrupted the now defunct media website Gawker. Thiel accused a former Gawker editor of being “an aspiring child pornographer” and called the entire publication a “singularly sociopathic bully”, and portrayed his backing of the lawsuit as an act of charity.

“If you’re a single-digit millionaire like Hulk Hogan, you have no effective access to our legal system,” he said.

 

Source : https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/oct/31/peter-thiel-defends-donald-trump-muslim-ban-mexico-wall

 

 

Indian sports star boycotts Iranian competition over Hijab requirement

An Indian sportswoman has backed out of a shooting competition in Iran over the host’s requirement all female competitors must wear hijabs.

Heena Sidhu, a commonwealth games gold medallist, tweeted an explanation why she would not take part in the Asian Airgun Shooting Championship in Tehran in September.

The defending champion of the competition, Ms Sidhu said the requirement for the shooters to dress in accordance to Islamic principles was not in the spirit of the sport.

The competition’s official website clearly states all athletes must wear clothes in compliance with the rules of the Republic of Iran.

The 27-year-old told Times of India: “Forcing tourists or foreign guests to wear ‘hijab’ is against the spirit of the game. Since I don’t like it, I have withdrawn my name.

“You follow your religion and let me follow mine. I’ll not participate in this competition if you are going to force me to comply with your religious beliefs.”

In a series of tweets, Ms Sidhu denied being a revolutionary but declared her pride in her sport as it brings people together from different cultures, backgrounds, sexes, ideologies and religion.

 

The competition’s official website clearly states all athletes must wear clothes in compliance with the rules of the Republic of Iran.

The 27-year-old told Times of India: “Forcing tourists or foreign guests to wear ‘hijab’ is against the spirit of the game. Since I don’t like it, I have withdrawn my name.

“You follow your religion and let me follow mine. I’ll not participate in this competition if you are going to force me to comply with your religious beliefs.”

In a series of tweets, Ms Sidhu denied being a revolutionary but declared her pride in her sport as it brings people together from different cultures, backgrounds, sexes, ideologies and religion.

 

The Rio Olympics saw a number of female athletes covering their heads including US fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first ever American to wear a hijab to the Olympics.

She won a bronze medal in the rgw Women’s team sabre fencing.

 

Source : http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/indian-sportswoman-heena-sidhu-iran-hijab-airgun-shooter-headscarf-a7387766.html

 

 

Nawazuddin Siddiqui: Muslim Bollywood star out of Hindu play

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Far-right nationalists have forced Bollywood star Nawazuddin Siddiqui to cancel his performance in a Hindu festival “because he is a Muslim”.

Some members of the Shiv Sena said they were against “a Muslim actor going on stage in a Ramlila”, a theatre festival based on the Hindu religious epic Ramayana and performed across India.

The actor had said performing in the Ramlila was “his childhood dream”.

The Shiv Sena often resorts to violence and threats to push its agenda.

The dramatic folk re-enactment of Hindu god Ram’s victory over the 10-headed demon king Ravana celebrates the triumph of good over evil.

Villages across India stage their own performances, and spend a long time rehearsing and preparing for the event.

 

Siddiqui, who was performing the Ramlila in his village Budhana in northern Uttar Pradesh state, was forced to cancel his appearance minutes before going on stage, after the Shiv Sena told organisers that they did not want him to act.

“In the 50-60 year history of the Budhana Ramlila, no Muslim artist has set foot on the stage. We couldn’t allow that now. It’s about tradition,” Shiv Sena member Mukesh Sharma told The Times of India.

Siddiqui has said however, that he is confident of performing in the Ramlila next year.

The Shiv Sena party is a junior coalition partner in the western Maharashtra state government, which is ruled by India’s governing BJP.

The party was founded in 1966 to keep south Indian migrants out of Maharashtra state and to halt the spread of Islam.

Over time, it has acquired a reputation for promoting religious and ethnic chauvinism while allegedly targeting minorities, especially Muslims.

Trump has shifted away from complete Muslim ban: Pence

 

By Steve Holland | WASHINGTON

Donald Trump has backed away from a total ban on Muslims entering the United States, vice presidential running mate Mike Pence said on Thursday, a shift from one of the Republican presidential candidate’s most provocative proposals.

Trump’s call last December for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” followed an Islamic State-inspired mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, by a husband-and-wife team.

Critics have called the proposed ban discriminatory and probably a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of religion, and Democrats have used Trump’s policy to declare him a bigot.

In recent months, Trump has said he would suspend immigration from countries where Islamist militants are active but has left vague as to whether this amounted to a narrowing or an expansion of his original policy position.Pence said in a round of television interviews that if elected on Nov. 8, Trump would suspend immigration from “countries that have been compromised by terrorism.”

Asked if this amounted to a ban on Muslims, Pence said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show: “Of course not.”

On CNN’s “New Day,” Pence was asked why, given that he had been against the ban before becoming Trump’s running mate, he was not opposing it now.”

“Well, because it’s not Donald Trump’s position now,” replied Pence.

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Alistair Bell)