WASHINGTON – Though 9/11 attacks have altered the lives of many American Muslims forever, 2016 election is giving them a worse nightmare, with the majority of Muslims saying it is harder to be a Muslim in today’s America, than it was even after 9/11.
Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, an American Muslim woman and founder of MuslimGirl.net has shared her feelings in an article published by Motto, a publication from the editors of Time magazine.
“As a young Muslim woman who was a child when the 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred, I’ve grown up during the rise of Islamophobia in America. I’ve been physically and emotionally harassed and endured suspicious stares from my fellow American citizens,” Al-Khatahtbeh wrote.
“Like many other Muslim-Americans, I’ve developed a thick skin. But none of this prepared me, or my community, for the hate and fear mongering that was unleashed when Donald Trump announced his presidential campaign last summer,” she added.
Over the past months, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has been accused of fueling anti-Islamic sentiment, pointedly calling for Muslims to be prevented from entering the United States in December last year.
The rhetoric has made a surge in anti-Muslim attacks.
In a 2015 hate crime statistics report, 16.1 percent of 1,140 religious hate crime victims were Muslim, up from previous years, despite the fact that overall hate crime numbers among other religious groups were declining, the FBI said.
Al-Khatahtbeh lamented that the biggest effect of this rhetoric actually falls on vulnerable Muslim women.
“This rhetoric affects the American Muslim community as a whole, but in particular it affects Muslim women. Because we are a visible religious minority, we are very vulnerable,” she wrote.
“Our headscarves have become the lightning rods of anti-Muslim sentiment in our society. The bigoted comments made about Khan, immigrants, and Muslim refugees make all Muslim women and anyone who looks like us “other.””
Al-Khatahtbeh has herself experienced these attacks during the past months.
“Days after Trump first proclaimed our country should ban Muslim immigration, a man on my train in Manhattan put his hands on my headscarf and asked if I would let him take it off of me later,” she recalled.
“Recently, while at my neighborhood Dunkin’ Donuts, a group of older white men walked in and sat at the table next to me. One of them was wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat. They said things like, “We were taught that if they shoot at us, then we f-cking shoot back,” and referred to someone they didn’t like as a “f***ing Muslim.”
“Scrolling through the news on his phone, one of the men exclaimed, “Another terroristic killer!” then looked at me and said, “A country united is a GREAT thing.””
Spreading his misguided fear of Muslims, Trump and his supporters were flaming hate crimes across the country.
“This election isn’t just about the next four years, or even eight — it’s about protecting an entire generation of little girls from having to spend the rest of their lives repairing the damages and undoing the stereotypes of Trump’s campaign,” Al-Khatahtbeh wrote.
“Trump has exploited the most un-American and undemocratic parts of our society for his gain.
“The fact that I am once again afraid to walk the streets of my American hometown leaves me deeply concerned for the future of our country.
“What makes America great again for Trump and some of his supporters is what makes it dangerous for Muslims and other marginalized groups — and there’s nothing great about that.”