Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump isn’t exactly a stranger to saying and doing outlandish things, particularly when it comes to Islam.
But when he called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on,” lots of people started to think Trump had finally gone too far.
His comments about banning Muslims from entering the US sparked outrage across the world. White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters that Trump had effectively barred himself from the presidential race, while BuzzFeed told staff that calling Trump a “mendacious racist” is “totally fair.”
A petition has also been started in the UK to ban Trump from entering the country, following the comments. It has already gained more than 50,000 signatures.
Along with sparking outrage in the West, Trump’s comments about Muslims have, understandably, not been well received in the Middle East and other regions with large Muslim populations. This could turn out to be a big problem for Trump, who, despite wanting to stop Muslims coming to the US, seems happy to make money in predominantly Muslim countries, and has business interests across the world.
According to a report in the Financial Times, Trump’s interests in the Middle East include:
- Earning between £660,000 – £3.3 million ($1 million – $5 million) by licensing the Trump Towers brand to a major conglomerate in Istanbul, Turkey.
- He also earned roughly £1.7 million ($2.5 million) from a similar agreement with oligarch Anar Mamma in Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku, where a Trump Hotel and Tower have been built.
- The FT also reports that the Trump Organisation is in the process of creating two golf resorts and property developments in Dubai.
- Trump’s daughter Ivanka, who has a senior role in the Trump Organisation, recently said that the firm was exploring “multiple opportunities in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Saudi Arabia: the four areas where we are seeing the most interest.”
- Trump Home products are also sold in many department stores across the region, including in the Lifestyle chain, one of the biggest home stores in the Middle East.
Business interests getting crushed
There’s already some proof that Trump’s attitude towards the Islamic faith is starting to bite him in the Middle East. On Tuesday evening, Lifestyle group, which owns the Lifestyle chain of stores, said that it will stop selling Trump Home branded products in all of its 160 branches.
In a statement reported by both Quartz and the Independent, the CEO of the Dubai-based brand, Sachin Mundhwa said: “As one of the most popular home decor brands in the Middle East, Lifestyle values and respects the sentiments of all its customers. In light of the recent statements made by the presidential candidate in the US media, we have suspended sale of all products from the Trump Home décor range.”
While Lifestyle is the first company based in a Muslim country to formally distance itself from Trump and his anti-Islamic comments, others have already suggested that essentially alienating the entire faith is going to cause big issues for the brash billionaire.
Dubai businessman Khalaf al-Habtoor said that Trump’s comments are “unacceptable in my country, the UAE.” “Our system cannot accept an insult to our religion like this,” he added.
Habtoor, who was speaking to the Financial Times, said that Trump’s “brand is a liability, not an asset.” He also added that anyone in the region associating with Trump would be making a “huge mistake”.
Trump’s comments have already cost him business several times before. Most recently, America’s biggest Hispanic TV channel severed ties with Trump this summer after he made derogatory remarks about Mexican people, calling some of them “rapists.”
So far, only Lifestyle group has ended its association with Trump after his comments. Damac Properties, which is partnering with the Trump Organisation on its golf and property developments in Dubai, and whose CEO Hussain Sajwani is said to be a good friend of Trump’s, is currently standing by the organisation calling it “one of the premium golf course operators in the world.”
They would not however talk about Trump’s political views, saying: “As such we would not comment further on Mr Trump’s personal or political agenda, nor comment on the internal American political debate scene”.
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