WASHINGTON – Fear and anxiety are now the dominant feelings overtaking American Muslim students since the election of new president Donald Trump, amid increasing hate crimes targeting the religious community across the country.
“I have faith in the American people, but you also saw hundreds of hate crimes happening around the nation after he was elected. It’s hard to be surprised,” Muslim Student Association president Abdelrahman Aboulatta told Daily News on Wednesday, January 4.
The election of Trump as the new US president, who first called for a ban on Muslims entering the US and scaled back later to “extreme vetting” of those coming from certain parts of the world, has been badly affecting the American Muslim community over the past weeks.
A rash of hate crimes against Middle Eastern immigrants and those of the Muslim faith were reported in the media in the weeks since the election ended.
Though he has not been a victim of any violence, Akbar Naqvi, a economics student, said the election shifted his view of America and how he is perceived by the general public.
“I haven’t personally experienced anything too bad,” he said.
“I’ve dealt with micro-aggressions and stuff. As time has gone on, I’ve slowly lost my faith that I am fully accepted in this country.”
The case was not the same for Muslim women who don the hijab.
“For me, it’s not as immediate a fear,” Aboulatta said.
“I have the privilege of not being immediately recognized as a Muslim man, but women, because of what they’re wearing, do not.”
For many American Muslims, Trump’s new picks for administration were not making things easier.
“He’s been very clear about his stance on Muslims and refugees with building the wall, and the Muslim registry,” Aboulatta said.
“He chose Katherine Tactaquin for his Homeland Security team, and she has problems with identifying Islam as a religion, she thinks of it more as an ideology. At least he’s been consistent.”
Anticipating a hostile administration targeting Muslims, many students decided to shift their routines to avoid hate attacks.
“My mother has told me, ‘don’t keep a beard.’ She’s told me, ‘be a little under the radar.’ We’re really at that point,” Naqvi said.
Abdelrahman, however, choose outreach as the best solution to unjustified fear.
“One thing I’ve tried to do is make a safe space where we can talk about it,” Abdelrahman said.
“It’s very stressful for a lot of people.”