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DONALD TRUMP proved a conversation starter even at the holiest of sites for Muslims, Reuters reported.
Muslim pilgrims from the world over thronged Saudi Arabia’s Mecca for the annual haj last weekend and the controversial US president and his policies that target Muslims and immigrants were a regular conversation topic.
“People are irritated, angry, sombre, a little bit worried,” said Yasir Qadhi, an Islamic scholar who traveled from Tennessee for his 14th pilgrimage.
“No one that I know is happy [with] the current circumstances or the current administration. No one, not a single person in this entire gathering.”
Meanwhile, Malaysian pilgrim Abdul Azim Zainul Abideen said the US president should stop what he called his attacks on Islam.
“We don’t have anything against any Americans or non-Muslims,” he told Reuters.
His sister, 27-year-old Anisa, said she was worried by reports of an uptick in violence against Muslims in the US “just because of wearing hijab (headscarf) in the streets or just because you have a beard”.
During his presidential campaign, Trump famously proposed barring Muslims from entering the US. When he took office, he wasted no time in implementing temporary bans on people from several Muslim-majority countries, which have since been blocked by courts that ruled they were discriminatory.
His administration has denied any intention of religious discrimination in the travel ban, saying it is intended purely as a national security measure.
Many American Muslims say his stance has fueled an atmosphere in which some may feel they can voice prejudices or attack Muslims without fear of retribution.
The haj, a five-day ritual which retraces the journey the Prophet Mohammad took 14 centuries ago, is a religious duty for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it.
Between two and three million Muslim pilgrims travel to Mecca every year to perform the haj; it is the world’s largest annual Muslim gathering.
Additional reporting by Reuters
**This article first appeared on our sister site Travel Wire Asia