“Throughout our history, Islam has contributed to the character of our country, and Muslim Americans, and their good works, have helped to build our nation — and we’ve seen the results. We’ve seen those results in generations of Muslim immigrants — farmers and factory workers, helping to lay the railroads and build our cities. Muslim innovators who helped build some of our highest skyscrapers and who helped to unlock the secrets of our universe.”

–President Barack Obama, 2013.

Barack Obama rejected “any attempt to stigmatise Muslim Americans” in the aftermath of the terror attacks in Brussels, calling such views as espoused by some Republican presidential candidates “contrary to our character, to our values, and to our history as a nation built around the idea of religious freedom”. In the aftermath of the attacks, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump caused controversy with a promised clampdown on immigration and repeated advocacy of the use of torture against terrorist suspects. Texas senator Ted Cruz called for law enforcement to “patrol and secure Muslim neighbourhoods before they become radicalised”, adding, “The days of the United States voluntarily surrendering to the enemy to show how progressive and enlightened we can be are at an end.”

For Obama, ostensibly, the most important partners are American Muslims. As flawed as his policies have been, the next in line may not have such a moderate stand. We may live to appreciate Obama for such statements, if the American public opinion keeps shifting towards the right in the future.