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World

Web Desk
August 12, 2017
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Bannon’s remarks ‘he learned to fear Muslims when he visited Pakistan’ raise questions

Bannon’s remarks ‘he learned to fear Muslims when he visited Pakistan’ raise questions

WASHINGTON: White House Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon’s interview in which he said ‘he learned to fear Muslims when he visited Pakistan’ has raised a lot of questions as according to a report by The Intercept the US official never visited Karachi except he was probably in Hong Kong.

Bannon’s own narrative about how he came to fear Muslims is politically important. He is one of the most openly anti-Muslim officials in US President Donald Trump’s chaotic entourage and is reported to have overseen the drafting of the controversial Muslim travel bans that Trump issued in his first weeks in office.

According to The Intercept, Bannon told the journalist Joshua Green, whose new book about President Donald Trump’s senior counselor is a best-seller, “It was not hard to see, as a junior officer, sitting there, that [the threat] was just going to be huge,” Bannon said. He went on:

We’d pull into a place like Karachi, Pakistan – this is 1979, and I’ll never forget it – the British guys came on board, because they still ran the port. The city had 10 million people at the time. We’d get out there, and 8 million of them had to be below the age of fifteen. It was an eye-opener. We’d been other places like the Philippines where there was mass poverty. But it was nothing like the Middle East. It was just a complete eye-opener. It was the other end of the earth.”

There were few problems with Bannon’s version as the port of Karachi was not run by the British in 1979.

Karachi, which is the commercial hub of Pakistan, had a population that was well short of 10 million (it was about half that) and is not usually considered part of the Middle East.

But the biggest problem is that the destroyer Bannon served on, the USS Paul F. Foster, never visited Karachi while Bannon was aboard.

The vessel did not stop at Karachi during its 1979-1980 deployment, six sailors who served on the Foster with Bannon told The Intercept.

Also, a map of the Foster’s port calls that was published in its “cruisebook” shows stops in Hawaii, Guam, the Philippines, Christmas Island, Hong Kong, and Singapore — but not Karachi.

Bannon has drawn a large amount of criticism for his exclusionary stances on race, religion, and immigration.

It seems possible that Bannon may have consciously or subconsciously transposed the non-Muslim crowd he saw in Hong Kong and turned it into a Muslim crowd he did not see in Karachi.

This raises the question of whether Bannon’s underlying anxiety arises less from a threat purportedly presented by Muslims and more from a general anxiety about non-white foreigners, whether Muslim or Buddhist or any religion, The Intercept report concludes.

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