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Trump’s election leaves American Muslims reeling and scared

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Enas Almadhwahi, an immigration outreach organizer for the Arab American Association of New York, stands for a photo along Fifth Avenue in the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn, Friday, Nov. 11, 2016, in New York. American Muslims are reeling over Donald Trump’s victory, wondering what the next four years will bring after a campaign in which he proposed creating a national database of Muslims, monitoring all mosques and banning some or all Muslims from entering the country.

On the morning after the election, Alia Ali had a sickening feeling as she headed to her job as a secretary at a New York City public school, her hijab in place as usual. Ali is a Muslim who lives and works in one of the most diverse places in the U.S., and yet the ascension of Donald Trump to the White House left her wondering how other Americans really viewed her.

“Half of America voted one way and half of America voted the other, and you’re like, ‘Which half am I looking at?’” she said. “You become almost like strangers to the people you’ve worked with. Is this person racist? Do they like me? Do they not like me? Because that’s what this election has done.”

American Muslims are reeling following the election of Trump, whose campaign was rife with anti-Muslim rhetoric and proposals that included banning Muslims from entering the country and heightened surveillance of mosques across the nation. Now, among many of the 3.3 million Muslims living in the U.S., there is significant fear, along with some reports of harassment; one hijab-wearing student at San Diego State University said she was briefly choked by suspects who made remarks about Trump’s victory.

“There are lots and lots of people who aren’t going out of the house,” said Eboo Patel, a Muslim who heads the Interfaith Youth Core, a Chicago-based organization that works with colleges and government officials to build interreligious relationships.

At New York University late last week, hundreds of people sat shoulder-to-shoulder on a grand staircase of a student center to express solidarity after the word “Trump!” was scrawled on the door of a Muslim prayer space at the school. Students spoke of friends who wore headscarves or other traditional clothing and were afraid to take public transportation home for fear of being harassed.

Sana Mayat, a 21-year-old senior who wears the hijab, said the election made her realize “there was a large part of this country that didn’t want me here.”

“There is an intense state of anxiety about the future,” said Rami Nashashibi, a parent of three and executive director of Chicago’s Inner-City Muslim Action Network, which has been inundated with calls seeking support since Election Day. “I grappled with the conversation I had to have with my children.”

The outcome was especially bitter following an unprecedented voter registration drive by American Muslims, including get-out-the-vote sermons at mosques and the creation of a political action committee, Emerge USA, to mobilize Arabs and Muslims.

Enas Almadhwahi, a 28-year-old Yemeni immigrant who has been in the U.S. since 2008, became a citizen this year and voted for the first time. To mark the occasion, she brought her 7-year-old daughter, along with some co-workers.

“At that moment, I was so happy,” said Almadhwahi, who lives in Brooklyn, New York, and works at an Arab-American community organization. The next day, when she told her daughter Trump had won, the girl cried. A friend had told the little girl that if Trump won, it would mean they couldn’t talk anymore.

“Everything feels like it’s upside down,” Almadhwahi said. “I still like to hope Trump will change his words about Muslims.”

Trump’s policy plans remain a mystery, but his administration could radically reshape the Justice Department, which has been an ally under President Barack Obama in protecting Muslim civil rights. Trump could also repeal a key Obama program that prevents the deportation of some immigrants, including Muslims, living in the country illegally.

Muslims had far from a perfect relationship with the Obama administration. For years, the president kept the community largely at arms-length, sending surrogates to meet with them amid a stubborn misapprehension, fueled in part by his critics, that Obama, a Christian, was secretly Muslim. Many U.S. Muslim leaders were uncomfortable with his foreign policy in Iraq and elsewhere, and objected to his program to fight extremism at home, saying the focus on Muslims ignored other threats from right-wing, anti-government extremists.

Still, Muslim leaders had built solid ties with many government officials. Now, they face not only the loss of those connections, but potentially a closed door to their concerns.

“The friends we have are going to be fewer,” said Farhana Khera, president of the California-based civil rights group Muslim Advocates, which has represented clients suing over the New York Police Department’s surveillance of American Muslims. “I think we’ll be very much in a defensive posture.”

Since the election, mosques and Muslim groups have organized community meetings and conference calls focused on how to move forward. The Indiana-based Islamic Society of North America, the largest communal Muslim group in the U.S., issued a statement inviting Trump to engage with the community, saying “many American Muslims are traumatized by the result of the election and the fear of what is to come.” The group said there was no immediate response from Trump’s office.

Sheik Omar Suleiman, resident scholar at the Valley Ranch Islamic Center in Irving, Texas, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, an anti-defamation group, distributed suggested sermons for juma, or Friday prayers at mosques, stressing Quranic verses about remaining strong in the face of hardships.

“Have hope in the people because Allah may turn their hearts toward you,” was among the verses they cited.

Faisal R. Khan, founder of a youth advocacy and peace organization near Chapel Hill, North Carolina, attended four Trump campaign rallies over the last year, in part to protest but also to speak with the Republican’s supporters. Khan lived years ago in the Midwest, where he knew people who had grown resentful over losing Rust Belt jobs, and said he understands what drew so many working-class whites to the president-elect.

Khan has created a Facebook page called “Talk To Me America,” hoping to start a conversation that can combat anti-Muslim bias.

“Peaceful protest is good, but at a certain point, we have to sit down and talk,” he said. “At the end of the day, we’re all human beings. We’re all Americans.”

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    • How is any worse than any other religion? Did you see the movie on Scientology or the cult in Lanikai? I am not Muslim but if really is not much different from any other major religion.

      • boots, how big is that Religious movement? is it of the Islam/Muslim scale? It’s size is probably the size of the KKK, we all know everyone with a sane mind in America denounces that cult. SEE the BIG picture, open your mind. lol

      • Ever studied the life of Muhammad, Boots? The founders of the world’s great religions were peaceful – not so Muhammad. The more devoted a Buddhist, Jew or Christian becomes the more peaceful he or she is. Not so with with a Muslim as the more devoted a Muslim becomes, he/she becomes more “radical” and prone to violence.

      • I can recommend a really good course over at the UH that can enlighten you about Islam and Muslims. Its ok to be ignorant, but please do not post untruths such as it “not being much different”. Please educate yourself.

      • What other religion straps bombs to themselves and attacks only innocent people in the name of their religion? What bothers me the most about these Muslim american comments is their inability to understand the security concerns of ordinary american citizens. America has been attacked 3 times from within by Muslims in the last 3 years alone with over a hundred innocent americans killed. How many times must it happen before Muslim americans understand this point of view?
        Only they know who has been radicalized, only they know the who, what, when and where of the next attack. They need to step up and report extremism in their mosques to the FBI if they are to be accepted as americans. To date, this has not happened and I think Trump needs to call them on it. They are in the best position to stop Islamic terrorism. They are either part of the solution or part of the problem. They need to decide which.

    • Whatever Islam/Muslim or whatever, that Religion treats women as 2nd class humans. Why can’t Liberals believe what is the truth in the MidEast where it’s practiced? Where’s the Women Rights Group in America condemning the Muslim/Islam Religion? Democrats ran Hillary’s campaign on being the 1st women President and for pro-women, but where’s the denounciation of the Muslim/Islam Religion treating women like that? Politicians are Liars! no matter what political faction they belong too. imo

  • These women need to start to fight for their rights – its a shame that in this day they have to cover up for their men. They are simply brain washed into believing that they have to wear burkas and cover everything but their faces.

  • those ahat are not criticizing and reporting radical islamist terrorists
    are complicit in terrorist activities and should be treated as supporting terrorism
    lets see american flags in front of mosques

    • The ban Trump proposed was temporary until adequate security protocols could be instituted to screen out potential terrorists. Nothing wrong with that. One simple screening tool would be to have all Muslim immigrants sign a document pledging their loyalty to the US Constitution instead of Shari’a since the two are incompatible.

      • Really? Where did you get this utterly shibai idea?

        USA Constitution is the law of the land, always has, always shall be. No other law/legal standards can legally apply.

        Others can believe what they want, understanding our country, our laws rule. Don’t like it you know where you can go.

    • Not exactly. Some Muslim parents have informed law enforcement about family members acting illegally.

      Doesn’t just apply to Muslims. How many USA citizens did illegal acts, family members knew or should have known, did nothing?

      • too bad lately it’s been of Muslims committing terrorists acts against America. Maybe it is why we have people thinking li dat. Why do we have Black Lives Matter go against cops when their own kind(African Americans) are killing their own in inner cities? I cannot figure it out, cause you try telling the BLM’s members White lives matter, Yikes! They’re a bunch of RACISTS! themselves!

  • “Trump could also repeal a key Obama program that prevents the deportation of some immigrants, including Muslims, living in the country illegally.”

    Question, which countries currently accept immigrants ILLEGALLY?

    Let’s take care of our own citizens that need help(housing/jobs/medical)first.

  • If anyone is feeling discriminated against, it is Christian refugees from Syria. So far this year out of the total 10,801 Syrian refugees, just 56 are Christians. That amounts to 0.005%. You can draw your own conclusions.

  • Jesus couldn’t teach the MidEasterns 2000+ years ago, what makes the Liberals of America and in Europe think they can? Well, they can but it will take another 2000+ years to reprogram the backward Religions teaching. It starts with family, if their is hate in a family it itself will be taught to it’s children and it goes on and on, these kids grown will remember the spoken hate when they feel they’ve been treated wrong. This is no different than the KKK members rearing their own kids. It’s most been taught in raising a child cause they ain’t born with thoughts li dat.

    • Hell, let me add, a lot of us grew up in a racial hate society in WW2 and following there after. Do I see/hear the Japanese people teach “hate” as some MidEasten’s do? I’d have to say it’s in the blood/genes too as it plays a part, I feel the brain is not different than one’s physical ability but it could be taught a thing or too just like muscles, lol, is the brain muscles? There’s a limit to teach it… and plenny variables to sway the mind. lol Yikes!

  • …….there was a 6 year old boy crying his heart out and when the teacher had asked him,why he was crying? His response was:
    “It’s Because Trump WON and there will be no Free College tuition for us……Not Kidding! This is a true story!

    But Really?Who feeds this kid, stuff like this? I mean he’s only 6 years old right? What child this age keeps up with the current events? They are too busy playing “Candy Land” or Games on their Tablets!
    So who?…….The usual suspects are his Parents, who support the democratic party! The Left! This is shameful to the Max! They,the parents knows what they are doing is wrong and yet they persist!
    This child has no idea how the political world works and yet ,he’s crying like it was the end of the world! Braaaah!

    It’s relative to this story, because the MSM and it’s propaganda Machine still has the power to Brainwash the feeble minded Liberal base.And they are falling for it! Hook ,Line ,Sinker,Boat Truck and The Harbor included!

    Rush Limbaugh was right again! “If you think the Main Stream Media will fold and cooperate with the New/Trump administration,you’re WRONG,they’re already planning to take Donald Trump down”. Boy was he RIGHT Again! Indeed .he knows Liberals better than anyone! IMUA RUSH!

    • All brought on by the Liberals and Democrats that are like teenagers spending money they don’t have to add on to our National debt. What’s bad about handing out more money, it creates self-entitlement and once people enjoy the rewards of free handouts it is hard to do away with it.

    • MoiLee – If your comment was true, where is the credible reference link?

      Also fails the logic of even if Trump served 8 years, the crying boy would only be 14 years old. Also doubtful a 6 year old has a clue about college.

  • Had Hillary won… these “American” muslims would be celebrating.
    A majority of them are potential terrorists and not interested into acclimating into the American culture.

  • Many Muslims in America are paranoid. Well, guess what, non-Muslims are just as paranoid. Neither group really trusts the other. While non-Muslims must reach out, Muslims must also reach out. They need to police their communities and act accordingly.

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