Like millions of voters and minorities, the upset victory of Donald Trump on Tuesday night was not a pleasant situation for the seven-million-strong American Muslim Community that was at the receiving end during the 2016 controversial presidential election campaign. Hence, an urgent question for the American Muslims is how they will be treated by the forthcoming administration of Donald Trump.
With this in mind, nine Muslim and Arab civil advocacy groups held a joint press conference in Washington DC on Wednesday to offer reaction to the election of Donald Trump as the nation’s 45th president. They were joined by the National Council of Churches of Virginia.
Muslim groups have called upon the President-elect Donald Trump to respect the rights of all Americans and pledged to work with the new president to strengthen the nation. The Muslim groups also called on President-elect Trump to unite all Americans under the Constitution.
The Muslim groups emphasized that they fully cherish the democratic process of the country in which they endeavored to participate this election season by launching voter registration campaigns and drives to motivate the Muslim voters to go out and cast their vote.
The press conference was attended by Nihad Awad, National Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic-Relations (CAIR); Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, Director Outreach at Darul Hijra Islamic Center, Falls Church, Virginia & Government Affairs in-charge of Muslim Alliance of North America (MANA); Ilhan Cagri of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC); Rev. Steven Martin, Communications Director of the National Council of Churches of Virginia; Naeem Baig, President of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA); Rafiuddin Ahmed of the Muslim Association of Virginia; Abul Fadal Nahidian, Imam of Manas Mosque & School, Virginia; Christian Szrinski, Media & Communications Director of American Muslims for Palestine (AMP); Aseel Elborno, Executive Director of Muslim American Society (MAS), Washington DC; and Colin Christopher, Deputy Director of Government Affairs at Darul Hijra Mosque, Falls Church Virginia.
The impromptu press conference by major Muslim civil advocacy groups was held in the background of rising anti-Islam and anti-Muslim rhetoric by the Republican leaders during the 2016 election season. Trump has targeted Muslims since the early days of his campaign, calling for a ban on them entering the U.S., and suggesting that they carry identification cards coupled with a promise to monitor American mosques.The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) reported an “unprecedented spike” in Islamophobic hate crimes “attributed at least in part to statements and policy proposals made by public figures like Donald Trump.” A Georgetown University report confirmed CAIR’s statement, saying there were 53 attacks against Muslims in December 2015. Meanwhile, only two such attacks happened at the start of the election season.
Nihad Awad, National Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) told the press conference “as citizens of this great nation, we accept the result of the democratic process that has bound us together as one nation.”
“Regardless of who won or lost yesterday’s election, American Muslims are here to stay. We are not going anywhere, and will not be intimidated or marginalized,” declared Nihad Awad of CAIR which is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization.
The CAIR official went on to say that the American Muslim community will continue to mobilize to challenge bigotry, to uphold justice and to protect the freedoms and rights of all Americans. In this respect, he added, American Muslims will increase outreach to their fellow citizens of other faiths and backgrounds to build bridges of mutual understanding and cooperation.
He assured the frightened Muslim community that his organization will continue to be a fearless and principled defender of the Muslim community, regardless of who leads our nation. “To those in the American Muslim community who are fearful of the future, know that America is your home and you have the same rights and responsibilities as all other Americans. Rest assured that CAIR is here for you, your family and your children.”
Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, Director Outreach at Darul Hijra Islamic Center, Falls Church, Virginia, said we support the political process of this country and recognize the work done by each individual community in upholding the values and principles of a democratic process.
He hailed the acceptance speech of Donald Trump and hoped that “we will move together as one nation, a call for national unity, a commitment to rebuild the social fabric and cohesion of America and to stand for civil rights and civil liberties of everyone.”
As an American, as an African American and as a Muslim, we believe in these values and principles and intend to hold every elected official to the standard of democracy, Imam Johari added.
Ilhan Cagri of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) said last night represented a shift in American landscape and exposed a deep division in our nation. “This presidential campaign did not create these divisions but reminding us how changing demographics in our country have created fear and hysteria in some leading to unrest and a fractured society,” she added.
We accept the result of the election because we believe in the principle of democracy and peaceful transfer of power, Ilhan said adding: Engagement is needed now more than ever and MPAC will redouble its efforts for seeking common ground with the left or right, those who are disfranchised and left out.
Rev. Steven Martin, Communications Director of the National Council of Churches of Virginia, expressed concern over the level of fear in the American Muslims who are very worried about their future and about their economic future. “We hear daily incidents of hatred and bias against our Muslim brothers and sisters.”
“We are deeply respectful of the democratic process and it is necessary to stand behind our leaders and we pledge to do so,” Rev. Steven Martin said adding: But we also call upon leaders, those who are newly elected, to exercise their power with compassion, with care and with deep concern for all Americans so that no one is left behind. So that we all prosper. It is this kind of America where we all be able to exercise true faith, a faith that is found in freedom.
Naeem Baig, President of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), called on the forthcoming administration to ensure the safety and security and freedom of worship of all minorities and their places of worship, particularly of those who are threatened. “We also urge the Department of Justice to keep an eye on known hate groups and individuals who are now organized, vocal and networked. In the event of hate crime, the law enforcement should act quickly and decisively,” Naeem added.
Christian Szrinski, Media & Communications Director of American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), expressed the hope that Donald Trump’s administration will promise to treat each citizen and resident of the US with equality and justice. “There is lot of fear among the Muslims and other impacted communities but we know that when we come together and work for the democratic process that will help the nation healing and moving forward.”
Muslims should not be singled out and subjected to surveillance and marginalized by threatening to close our mosques and carry special ids or ban Muslims from entering the US, Christian said adding: “We also seek equal treatment of African Americans, Latinos, immigrants and other communities. They should enjoy the same privileges like other Americans.”
Just two days after Trump’s election, reports of anti-Muslim attacks spike
Less than 48 hours since Donald Trump became the president-elect, reports of Islamophobia are already on the rise, according to Think Progress.
Attacks on Muslim Americans were already high before Trump clinched enough electoral college delegates to win the presidency on Tuesday night, with hate group experts attributing the uptick to his candidacy. But the situation appears to have worsened since his win.
Here are just a few examples of Muslim American reporting instances of harassment and assault this week.
At New York University, Muslim students reportedly awoke to discover that the door to their prayer room had been defaced with the word “Trump!”
This morning at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, Muslim students found “Trump” scrawled on the door of their prayer room, realizing that our campus is not immune to the bigotry that grips America. We awoke on November 9th to a chilling wakeup call. And as we open our eyes and start to move and organize in the face of these new realities, we ask for your support.
At San Jose State University, a campus-wide alert sent to students reported that a woman had her hijab forcibly removed by a “fair skinned male” with such force that it “caused the victim to lose her balance and choked her.”
According to campus police, a student at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette was beaten, robbed, and had her hijab ripped off by two men, one of whom wore a white “TRUMP” hat. The suspects reportedly beat the woman with “something metal.”
A Muslim woman in Albuquerque, New Mexico claimed on Twitter that a Trump supporter tried to pull off her hijab at her university. She said school officials are now investigating the incident.
A Muslim woman reported that a woman verbally and physically attacked her at a Walmart, tugging at her hijab while saying that such headwear “is not allowed anymore.” She then reportedly suggested the woman hang herself.
Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Chief Editor of the Journal of America (www.journalofamerica.net) email: asghazali2011 (@) gmail.com