Human rights activists and politicians on both sides of the political divide in the United States have complained that President Donald Trump’s foreign policy is biased towards the country’s religious right, Politico foreign correspondent Nahal Toosi wrote in an article published on Thursday.
White House officials have vehemently denied any bias, but many point to the Trump administration’s trademark foreign policy cause, the protection of global religious freedom, which is a favourite of American Christian conservatives.
One of the highest profile goals Trump has pursued along these lines has been freeing Andrew Brunson, a U.S. evangelical pastor who was arrested for alleged collaboration with outlawed organisations in Turkey, where he had been preaching for decades.
Brunson’s arrest has been a particularly sore point in Turkey’s relations with the United States, and Trump placed sanctions on two Turkish ministers said to be involved in his arrest and doubled tariffs on Turkish metal imports this summer after a deal to secure his release broke down.
However, by concentrating on the evangelical Christian pastor, focus has been taken off other U.S. citizens imprisoned on equally dubious charges, such as Turkish-American scientist Serkan Gölge.
Meanwhile, the discourse on humanitarian efforts abroad has leaned notably towards Christian issues, said Toosi. Trump’s administration has declared that Christians living under the extremist jihadist Islamic State have faced genocide, for example.
However, the administration has been markedly silent on the plight of the Rohingya, a mainly Muslim ethnic group that has faced massacres and mass displacement in Myanmar at the hands of the Buddhist dominated military, she said.
“Critics said that while Pence, Pompeo and others in the administration may mention a range of religious groups in their speeches, they tend to emphasize Christians in the language they use, the actions they take and the settings they choose. Few administration officials visit U.S. mosques to announce policy moves, for instance,” Toosi wrote.
“The critics also note that, in addition to being friendly toward Christian causes, Trump has expressed hostility toward Muslims, even proposing during the 2016 presidential race that they be banned from the United States,” she added.
Trump has moved to implement a highly controversial travel ban on citizens from seven Muslim majority countries after making a so-called “Muslim ban” a part of his election campaign in 2016.