DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A top security official in Dubai warned Friday of a "clash of civilizations" if U.S. Republican candidate Donald Trump becomes president, the latest sign of disquiet across the Middle East over the businessman's comments about Muslims.
Trump refused to back away from his recent statement that "Islam hates the West" during a Republican debate Thursday night in Miami, which came after he called in December for a ban on Muslims entering the United States.
Trump said he wouldn't stoop to being "politically correct" by avoiding such statements.
Lt. Gen. Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, the deputy chairman of police and general security in Dubai, took to Twitter to respond. Referencing political scientist Samuel P. Huntington's theory that future wars would be fought between cultures, Tamim warned that a Trump win could see him face Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
"If Trump beats Hillary (Clinton), that means that the scenario of the clash of civilizations created by Samuel will come to light at the hands of the candidate and al-Baghdadi," Tamim wrote.
Trump has for years looked to do business in the Middle East, particularly in the Gulf and the emirate of Dubai. Trump has lent his name to two high-profile Dubai golf course projects and an ongoing real estate development, and sought for years to expand his hotel chain into the region.
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."
In Lebanon, Abdelsalam Shalash, a resident of the capital, Beirut, said Trump is trying to win by playing on people's fears.
"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."
Newspaper columns and editorials in the region roundly have criticized his comments.
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.
Associated Press Writer Zeina Karam in Beirut contributed to this report. Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellap .