CAIRO – Living for decades South Carolina’s Islamville, hundreds of Muslims families no longer feel safe for their lives amid increasing anti-Muslim rhetoric led by Republican presidential hopefuls and Donald Trump on their top.
“Of course we feel uncomfortable and unsafe,” Ramadan Saeed Shakir, the mayor of Islamville, told The Guardian.
Shakir was talking about the feelings of an all-Muslim town of about 300 people located in the northern woodland of South Carolina.
For them, Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric was sowing fear for their safety in case he won the presidential race.
Located in York County, Islamville is a collection of homes with no shops, businesses, or high street.
Shakir, 36, has lived in Islamville since the community was established by the Muslims of America organization 34 years ago.
There are sister towns across the US, including Islamberg in northern New York, which serves as the headquarters of Muslims of America.
“It’s very sad that one of our national presidential candidates is speaking so much ill will about Islam and Muslims. Not just American Muslims but around the world,” Shakir said.
“It’s unfortunate that the media is giving him that platform,” Shakir said of Trump.
“He’s no different from Jon Ritzheimer, the KKK, any of these bigots.”
Ritzheimer is currently being held over his part in the armed occupation at the Malheur wildlife refuge in Oregon.
Muslim fears maximized after a recent survey for Trump’s backers in South Carolina, 80% supported banning Muslims from entering the US, while 62% agreed that there should be a national database of Muslims, according to a Public Policy Polling study.
The figures were lower for every other Republican. Only 44% of Trump supporters believed it should be legal to practice Islam in the US, compared with 33% who thought it should be outlawed.
Criticism for Trump’s rhetoric was not limited to Muslim citizens in Islamville.
“Donald Trump doesn’t need money for political backing. He’s got his own money so he doesn’t have to watch what he says and be politically correct,” said Ken Moran, 46.
“He’s got my vote hands down. And my wife.”
Moran was drinking Bud Light in the Wing King cafe, which serves chicken wings.
“Everyone should have the choice to practice their own faith,” he said.
“For me, you always form your own opinion. I don’t stereotype, I don’t group people. But at some point some organization is going to feel offended or targeted about any topic.”
Matt, a Christian young man who refused to give his second name, said he does not support Trump either.
“I really wouldn’t say he’s much for Christians either,” said a 22-year-old man called Matt.
“I think he’s just for what Donald Trump wants.”
“Everybody needs to be shown an amount of grace,” he said. “It’s ridiculous that he’s making people feel that way. He’s not going to get my vote.”
Ronnie Bailes, the owner of Men’s Shop, a clothing store that has been open since 1948, was puzzled by Trump’s support.
“I’m just amazed he’s still got the votes,” he said. “Most of us are perplexed by this.”
Bailes did not believe that Trump was speaking for the majority of his fellow South Carolinians.
“It’s just his rhetoric. There are too many good southern ladies and gentlemen who believe in civil discourse,” he said.