People in the Middle East and the Muslim world at large were stunned and rattled when U.S. Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump added more fire to his anti-Muslim rhetoric, claiming that "Islam hates the West" last week.
This prompted a top security official in the United Arab Emirates to warn of a "clash of civilisations" between the West and Islam should Trump succeed in winning the White House this November, the Associated Press reported.
Lt. Gen. Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, the deputy chairman of police and general security in Dubai, U.A.E., took to Twitter to comment on Trump's latest anti-Islam rant.
Citing political scientist Samuel P. Huntington's theory that future wars would be fought between cultures, Tamim warned that Trump—should he win the November U.S. election—could find himself locked in a mortal conflict with Islamic State (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
"If Trump beats Hillary (Clinton), that means that the scenario of the clash of civilisations created by Samuel will come to light at the hands of the candidate and al-Baghdadi," Tamim wrote.
Trump is a well-known name in the Middle East, particularly in the U.A.E. because of his business projects in the region. He has two high-profile Dubai golf course projects and an ongoing real estate development. For years, he has also been trying to expand his hotel chain into the region.
But his efforts were severely stymied when politicians and media personalities started attacking him in December for his anti-Islam speeches.
An editorial published by the Lebanese English-language Daily Star newspaper said the thought that "a man whose knowledge of geography, history and theology is nonexistent may reach the Oval Office is terrifying and deeply concerning."
"A Trump White House would be detrimental to the American people, but as commander-in-chief of the world's most powerful country, his reach will affect hundreds of millions more," the newspaper said.
"It is no wonder that the world recoils from this prospect, and one can only hope that the United States will do too," it added.
Trump has refused to back away from his recent statement that "Islam hates the West" during a Republican debate Thursday night in Miami. He earlier called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States.
Trump said he wouldn't stoop to being "politically correct" by avoiding such statements.
Since his comments in December, a Mideast company, the Dubai-based Landmark Group, said it would pull all Trump home decor products at its 180 Lifestyle stores in the region as it "values and respects the sentiments of its customers."
Meanwhile in Lebanon, Abdelsalam Shalash, a resident of the capital Beirut, voiced his fellow Lebanese sentiments on Trump. "He is using propaganda to convince people that our enemy is either the Muslims or the Mexicans, and it's rallying up a lot of people because people are afraid," Shalash said. "And fear is one of the easiest concepts to make use of."