Some local Muslims fearful under Trump administration

Maximino Cisneros,

On July 18, the United States Supreme court upheld President Donald Trump’s travel ban with minimal revisions on which foreigners would be allowed to enter the United States. The revisions include allowing foreigners into the U.S. who have clear ties to organizations and individuals in the country.

According to the original Executive Order 13769, there will be a 90-day suspension of the entry of citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Trump listed the countries in his executive order due to their alleged terroristic activities that could potentially threaten the United States. The original executive order remains the same after its review and revisions by the Supreme Court.

Ironically, the court decision corresponded with the U.S. celebration of its independence. The annual Fourth of July celebration of independence elicits patriotism and pride for the United States, often citing an appreciation for diversity and tolerance. It is also a time when homage is paid to U.S. citizens and their politicians. However, President Trump’s divisive language and policies towards the 3,300,000 Muslims in America, according to the Pew Research Center, have evoked alternative feelings.

The 4th of July and the travel ban have become the subject of a larger debate of whether Muslims can assimilate to the American lifestyle.

“To me I feel like there is a different air surrounding the nation in general,” Suhayla Hassan, a 19-year-old Muslim college student said. “But I feel that people are using the 4th of July to try and escape the fact that Trump is president while some people are avoiding any type of patriotism because of the crazy stuff he’s trying to pass like the travel ban. They want to avoid being associated with the government.”

Suhayla and her sister Kameela Hassan reside in Castro Valley. Their family immigrated from Fiji, an island nation located in the Oceania region of the Southern Pacific Ocean.

There are 250,000 Muslims living in the San Francisco Bay Area, according to a Bay Area Muslim study by Farid Senzai, a Santa Clara University Assistant Professor, and Hatem Bazian, a UC Berkeley Professor.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations is a Muslim advocacy and civil rights group located in Washington D.C. They monitor government activities and legislation and respond on behalf of the American Muslim community.  According to their 2016 study, the major contributing factor to anti-Muslim bias incidents is ethnicity and or national origin. Anti-Muslim incidents is a term used by the CAIR that covers religious discrimination and defamation whereas hate crimes are looked at separately.

The study is conducted annually by the CAIR after collecting data each year from thousands of complainants when they contact CAIR through various media including email, telephone and their online complaint system. They take those complaints and utilize them as data for their research.

It is ironic for the United States to be parading about being “The Land of the Free” when so many of its own citizens are not free to be themselves.

Suhayla reflected to a time when she was with her mother at a store while an angry woman shouted, “Go back to your country!”

“I have personally felt harassed by things people have said to me,” Rehana said. “It makes me sad that things that they see on the internet, they believe. Mistakes and wrongdoings that individuals make don’t define an entire religion and when people take the liberty in believing that, the world will never get anywhere.”

It is absolutely unacceptable for any individual to go through any situation where they are subjected to distasteful comments and insults as well as being a victim of a crime solely because they might be different than what is considered “normal” in the U.S. According to the same 2016 study by the CAIR, anti-Muslim hate crimes have increased 44 percent and anti-Muslim bias incidents 57 percent increase in throughout 2015.

They compared their study to the reports of CSU San Bernardino researchers which were 78 percent increase in 2015 hate crimes targeting Muslims once reviewing official hate crimes data for twenty states.  

In November 2016, The New York Times published FBI data which revealed that attacks on American Muslims rose in 2015 to about 67 percent over 2014. The CAIR received 4,282 reports of potential bias incidents cases in 2016. The staff determined that 2,213 or 52 percent of these reports contained an identifiable element of religious, ethnic or national origin bias.”

“Since Trump has entered office, I feel that certain people believe that they are more entitled than others, both in politics and society,” said Kameela, a 16-year-old high school student.

President Donald Trump has provided the proper platform and motivation with the travel ban for many people who have no interest in improving American-Islamic relations. It has consequently lead to Muslims who are outside and in the United States, to be marginalized and singled out for simply looking and being different.

“All that hate [Trump] portrayed in his campaign and even when elected is rubbing on people and making people think it’s okay to hate and to feel more entitled than others,” said Rehana.

If President Trump continues the implementation of the travel ban, it could cause a greater divide between the United States and its Muslim community. It will go against the very qualities that make the country already great, diverse and tolerant.