This is the first of a series of videos we will be linking on this page produced by American Muslims to counter the distortions they are forced to live with in an age of Islamophobia (click on pic for video)
A new survey from the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, or ISPU, offers a rare look at this changing community. The report covers interviews with nearly 2,400 American residents from diverse religious backgrounds, including roughly 800 Muslims. The data suggest that this rapidly growing group is strongly shaped by a few factors. U.S. Muslims are younger and more liberal than their neighbors. They tend to be fairly religious. And they are extremely anxious about what’s happening in America.
Over the past decade, the Muslim community has grown significantly. According to the Pew Research Center, their share of the U.S. population more than doubled between 2007 and 2014. The group now makes up roughly 1 percent of the populace.
Muslim identity has evolved along with their population size. George W. Bush-era conventional wisdom held that Muslims were a natural constituency for the Republican Party. By the 2016 election, that had radically changed: ISPU found that only 15 percent of Muslims in their survey wanted Trump to win over Hillary Clinton in November, including those who are not eligible to vote.
By Mohamed Abdulkadir Ali
Wednesday saw a significant blow to the Trump administration’s attempts to institute a Muslim ban. A Federal Judge in Hawaii struck down a revised travel ban, saying it was driven by “significant and unrebutted evidence of religious animus” as evidenced by comments made by the administration and Trump himself. As a Somali-American living and working in a large refugee community, this animus has long been apparent and has deeply affected me and those in my community.
Since the launch of his presidential campaign two years ago, Donald Trump seemed to have a particularly virulent animus toward us Somalis. In stops in Minneapolis, and Lewiston, all home to large Somali refugee populations, he referred to Somalis as a “disaster” to the communities they moved to, as a dangerous threat to their neighbors, and as potential terrorists. This was underscored by repeated calls to prevent Muslims from entering the country, warnings of the dangers of Muslim refugees, and denunciations of Islam as an enemy of America. Many in our community called it hate.
Why does he hate us” was an often repeated question.
When the executive order was announced in January, it was clear to many of us that its creation was driven by this hatred. Statements of securing our nation and preventing a terrorist threat, many of them baseless, could not cloak that this order was an amalgamation of Trump’s unique brand of cheap jingoism, xenophobia, racism, and Islamophobia. We were being targeted, because of our nationality, of the color of our skin, and of our religion. When the second version of the order was released, despite attempts to “water down” language targeting Muslims, it could not sterilize the intent. Two years of anti-Muslim speeches and rhetoric are well documented and videos of him railing against refugees and Muslims can be easily found on Youtube.
SAN JOSE — With signs that read “Ask me anything” and “Meet a Muslim,” dozens of young Muslim men and boys in the Bay Area and beyond stood in public places Saturday in hopes of combating Islamophobia simply by talking with people.
The first “Meet a Muslim Day” was held in at least 50 cities and 120 locations nationwide. In the Bay Area, Muslims participated in San Jose, Antioch, Mountain View, San Francisco, Pleasanton, Berkeley and Pleasant Hill. The event was organized by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association USA, a Maryland-based group that works with an estimated 5,000 Muslim boys and men spread across 70 chapters nationwide.
It was something Iftikhar Khan had never done in his life. The 38-year-old San Jose resident brought his son, Rizwan, 10, and neighbor, Raees Qadir,14. The trio stood on Paseo de San Antonio near the Fairmont Hotel downtown.
“A large percentage of America has never met a Muslim before. And the perception of Muslims is that we’re violent and dangerous — and people are afraid of us,” Iftikhar Khan said. “It’s not surprising, to be honest, that people have that perception because there is a lot of violence in the world, and a lot of it is perpetuated by Muslims. But the vast, vast majority of the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world are peaceful. Our religion means peace. Literally, the word Islam means peace.”
I am a Muslim. I do not pray. I do not fast during Ramadan. I drink alcohol and eat pork. I do not believe in God. But I identify as a Muslim. Islam is a large part of the world I grew up in; it is inseparable from home.
The world in which I grew up in Lebanon included practicing and nonpracticing Muslims. It also included many Christians. But my family is Muslim; so is our culture. Extended family celebrations often revolved around the Eids, for which we would buy new clothes and meet for elaborate lunches, the children excitedly hoping for money, the Eidiyya, from the grown-ups. During Ramadan, we met our cousins, many of whom fasted the whole month, for iftar, breaking the fast with them as soon as the muezzin finished his prayer.
When I think back on my grandmothers, I often remember them praying in a calm, naturally lit room in the back of the house. I would catch a glimpse of them through an open door, white translucent veils running down their shoulders, kneeling down on the prayer mat, murmuring words that intrigued me and that I longed to learn.
I never learned the prayers, but I listened to many stories from Islamic history told by my father, often refracted through the great Muslim historian Ibn Khaldun, whom my father liked to read and quote: deeds of the prophet, his relationship to his companions, the passing of political authority to the caliphs, the struggles that ensued. But I also learned the stories of the caliphs, and especially of the Shiite Imams Hassan and Hussein, at funerals, in which professional readers would recount them in a tearful voice, slowly rising up in pitch, until it turned into cries, sending the mourners into uncontrollable sobs.
A Muslim staffer on the National Security Council quit eight days into the Trump administration, citing President Trump’s travel ban as the motivating factor in a personal account published Thursday by The Atlantic.
Rumana Ahmed joined the White House in 2011 and said she decided to stay on with the Trump administration in the hope of giving “the new president and his aides, a more nuanced view of Islam, and of America’s Muslim citizens.”
“Like most of my fellow American Muslims, I spent much of 2016 watching with consternation as Donald Trump vilified our community. Despite this – or because of it – I thought I should try to stay on the NSC staff during the Trump Administration,” Ahmed wrote.
But she lasted just eight days, ultimately motivated to quit after the president signed an executive order on Jan. 27 temporarily banning travelers from seven predominately Muslim countries and halting entrance of all Syrian refugees. Enforcement of the order has been halted while legal challenges play out in court, and the administration is expected to release a revamped version in the coming days.
“I knew I could no longer stay and work for an administration that saw me and people like me not as fellow citizens, but as a threat,” Ahmed wrote.
She said the administration’s treatment of Muslims would fuel the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) by legitimizing its propaganda.
“The Administration’s plans to revamp the Countering Violent Extremism program to focus solely on Muslims and use terms like ‘radical Islamic terror,’ legitimize ISIS propaganda and allow the dangerous rise of white-supremacist extremism to go unchecked,” Ahmed wrote.
She also suggested national security officials have little sway in the new administration.
Page Pate is a criminal defense and constitutional lawyer based in Atlanta. He is an adjunct professor of law at the University of Georgia, a founding member of the Georgia Innocence Project, a former board member of the Federal Defender Program in Atlanta, and the former chairman of the criminal law section of the Atlanta Bar Association. Follow him on Twitter @pagepate. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.
(CNN)Before he was elected President, Donald Trump made it clear he wanted to keep Muslims from entering the United States. In fact, he called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” a stance he slightly modified during the campaign.
Now that he is President, it looks like Trump is trying to accomplish the initial shutdown he called for on the campaign trail.
On January 27, Trump signed an executive order that significantly restricts the rights of people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. This order is a thinly veiled attempt to discriminate against Muslims. Because the policy reflected in this order targets a particular religious group, even though it doesn’t cover every country in which Muslims predominate, it is unconstitutional.