Muslim Americans Increasingly Anxious Under Trump Admin.

by: Shantella Y. Sherman Special to the AFRO ssherman@afro.com
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Muslim Americans say they are victims of discrimination and are increasingly on guard in the wake of the Presidency of Donald Trump.

Just weeks after a Pew Research Center survey found that Muslim Americans perceive discrimination and persecution far more since Trump took office, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) recently asked Muslim Americans to guard their safety and that of their communities.

In this Dec. 2, 2016, file photo, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., listens during a forum on the future of the Democratic Party in Denver. Ellison issued a statement Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017, through the national party calling it “an outrage” that President Donald Trump hasn’t condemned the bombing of a Bloomington mosque on Saturday, Aug. 5. Ellison is the nation’s first Muslim elected to Congress. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

The call for vigilance came on Aug. 5, after an early morning bombing at a Minnesota mosque shattered the serenity of morning prayers. With one in five Muslim Americans identifying as Black, the realities of being Black and Muslim in America may present new and unexpected challenges.

CAIR’s research documented that two-thirds of Muslim Americans surveyed felt dissatisfied with the stereotypical ideas many Americans held about them and the lack of response from officials when they are faced with violence or discrimination. A whopping 48 percent of the 1,001 Muslim Americans surveyed said in the last 12 months, they had experienced at least one incident of discrimination.

Further, the Pew study found that many Muslim Americans reported feeling an increase in apprehension and anxiety beginning with the last days of the 2016 elections, which the report cites proved particularly volatile in its depictions of Muslims as outsiders and potentially dangerous. Similarly, CAIR found that incidents of violence and discrimination spiked by more than 50 percent following Trump’s election.

“It is time for the Trump administration to seriously address the growing anti-minority sentiment in our nation, prompted at least in part by his toxic campaign rhetoric, the appointment of Islamophobes to policy-making posts, and the introduction of Islamophobic policies such as the ‘Muslim ban,’” said Corey Saylor, director of CAIR’s Department to Monitor and Combat Islamophobia, said in a statement.

Saylor, who co-authored the CAIR report “The Empowerment of Hate,” said 16 percent of incidents occurred as a result of Muslim women wearing a hijab (headscarf), 11 percent followed Muslim-related rallies, community picnics, or other activities.

California Democratic Rep. J. Luis Correa recently faced criticism after hanging the winner of a high school art competition in his office which depicted the Statue of Liberty wearing a hijab. He has vowed not to remove the painting.

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), a Black Muslim, released an impassioned statement following the detonation of the bomb at Minnesota’s Bloomington Islamic Center, saying in part, no matter the religion or language of the Bloomington community, all are welcome. “Today, those values were attacked when terrorists detonated a bomb at the Bloomington Islamic Center . . . Hate is becoming too prevalent in our society. It spreads on social media and infects our discourse. We must counter it with love and the values we hold so dear.”

Trump’s relationship with the U.S. Muslim community sullied quickly following his statements calling for a shutdown of Muslims entering the country, and ordering a ban on travelers entering the country from six Muslim-majority countries. “There are many Black Muslims in this country, who do not feel safe openly identifying as Muslim – especially when many Whites are presenting themselves as hostile, aggressive, and violent towards non-Whites,” Arthur Doku, a Ward 5 resident and Muslim told the AFRO. “There are these microaggressions that, as a grown man, I could handle, but which concern me should my wife or children find themselves having to deal with them in my absence. Trump has made it acceptable to be a xenophobe and fear, to a point of violence, anyone who isn’t a White male.”

Doku said that his family has been trained to defend themselves using martial arts and other methods, but is hopeful that they will never have to use what they’ve learned.

CAIR-Minnesota, offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who bombed the mosque.

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