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How Do British Muslims Feel About Trump's Victory?

"I will make a point of boycotting travel to the US over the next four years. I want to spend my money in more tolerant countries."

by Nilu Zia
10 November 2016, 12:00am

Source: CNN

This article originally appeared on VICE UK.

Donald Trump will be the 45th president of the United States. Buoyed to power by a tide of hatred and white supremacy, he has made his distrust of Muslims clear throughout his election campaign, most famously promising to ban any followers of Islam from entering the US.

British Muslims already have a sense of how a Trump presidency might feel. When the UK voted to leave the European Union there was a rise in open racism, hate crimes and xenophobia. The majority of these attacks were aimed at Muslims, who had somehow become part of the Brexit narrative, despite the European Union being a bloc of largely white Christian countries.

I spoke to some of Trump's least favourite people, young Muslims, about what their thoughts and fears are in light of the election result.

AMROU, 26

VICE: Amrou, how are you feeling?
Amrou: At first I genuinely thought I'd dreamt it, and then when I saw it all over the news I felt a cold horror all over my body. Now I feel numb – this election has confirmed so much of the fascist xenophobia that has been developing in recent years, xenophobia that I have experienced. His being elected has confirmed what I've been feeling for many years. Now I feel fired up to change shit.

Are you worried for Muslims?
I'm worried about xenophobic attacks and systemic oppression all over the world, carried out by people who feel legislatively validated by the most important politician in the world. I feel terrified and upset for all Arab and Muslim kids growing up in the world, and what they might have to experience growing up.

Does this make you feel closer or further from your identity as a Muslim?
I'm no longer religious, but it makes me want to be much more vocal about my Muslim upbringing, heritage and Arab culture. In fact, I want to dedicate a lot of my art and work around that in the coming decades to make sure a positive image of Arab and Muslim identity is visible in our society.

Are you worried about travelling to the US now?
When I was 13 years old I was detained in an American airport for four hours on the assumption I might be a terrorist. I had hoped the ensuing decades would change things, but now I feel it's worse. I'm genuinely paranoid that all my anti-Trump chat online will stop me from entering New York, a city where I have lots of friends and do drag. Also, being that my surname is Al-Kadhi, which strongly resembles a certain brotherhood, I am just quite worried that I'll have to be humiliated at the airport every time I try and visit. It's a really disempowering experience.

RUQAIYA, 23

VICE: How did you feel when you saw the election result this morning?
Ruqaiya: I felt shocked, really; kind of in disbelief that racism and all round bigotry has been legitimised and personified through this man. I feel scared for all of the Muslims, black, Latino and visibly non-white people who are going to be the target of attacks from newly empowered white supremacist Trump supporters. But I'm also kind of just feeling like this has been a long time coming. Racism in the US didn't start with Trump's election campaign. Maybe this series of events will provoke a necessary change.

Do you think there is going to be noticeable change straight away?
I worry non-white people are literally going to be attacked on the street. People will be scared to leave their homes. Little kids are gonna internalise so much fear and hate.

Does it make you want to identify more or less as a Muslim?
It doesn't impact the way I self-identify as a Pakistani Muslim. But in some ways it's more necessary now than ever to be defiantly, unapologetically Muslim and to stand firm in the face of hatred. I guess that's easy for me to say, though, as a non-hijab-wearing light-skinned Muslim woman living across the pond. I'm worried for the more visible Muslim Americans and especially children who will feel scared and vulnerable in their identity in such a hostile environment

Do you travel to the US?
I do travel there from time to time, and it does make me anxious now to visit in the current climate. There is just an overwhelming feeling that Muslims are not welcome

HANEIH, 26

VICE: How do you feel right now?
Haneih: I feel shocked and sad by the outcome. It's not even so much about Trump himself becoming president, but rather the thought that the majority of Americans voted for someone whose values are aggression, sexism and racism.

What will a Trump residency mean for Muslims?
I think something similar to what we saw post-Brexit: there will be a period of heightened racism towards not just Muslims, but also people of colour. There will probably be more racially-aggravated attacks on these minority groups

Do you travel to the US much? Are you worried about Trump's claims he will ban Muslims entering the country?
Me and my husband were actually due to travel to California next week, but because of other circumstances our plan changed. Now that Trump is in power I'm very happy that we're not going any more, and I think I will feel this way for a while.

NOOR, 22

VICE: How did you feel when you woke up this morning?
Noor: I was absolutely devastated. I'm currently studying politics and writing my dissertation on how Trump has manipulated the media and political primaries to secure the nomination. I never thought his tactics would work. It's the opposite of how every previous campaign has been run, so it's baffling to me.

What will a Trump presidency mean for Muslims?
He has isolated one of the largest religions in the world, which is a regression from western ideals. In the west we purport to be a forward-thinking and tolerant group which condemns the Middle East for their leaders and policies, but we see now it's the same here. I believe that Muslims will feel unsafe and unable to express their freedom of religion, which is a constitutional right.

Does it make you want to identify more or less with your heritage?
During school I felt unable to speak about my heritage following fears that I may be referred to as a terrorist, as I had received racial comments calling me a "Paki", and had been told to "go back to my own country". Now, as a 22-year-old woman who surrounds herself with educated friends, I am unashamed of my heritage.

I will make a point of boycotting travel to the US over the next four years. I want to spend my money in more tolerant countries.

Do you travel to the US and does this make you worried about travelling there in the future?
I travelled to Florida with my family last year. We went through standard security in Glasgow airport, then once we were waiting at the gate we were all stopped and searched again and were unable to board the plane whilst they completed "random searches". This is the first time I was racially profiled by an establishment and it made me angry that I was directly targeted. I think the US is a beautiful country and would like to go back, but would make a point of directly boycotting travel there over the next four years because of the vast proportion of Americans that voted for him. I want to spend my money in more tolerant countries and not feel fear if I were to travel there.

KARIM, 21

VICE: How you doing Karim?
Karim: What I felt initially was not so much shock, because yet again it was white people sabotaging society, but more so distress. How can it get to the point where the only alternative to Trump was an anti-black career politician who has had relationships with states guilty of funding the same violence and terror that the US is purportedly fighting? Collective consciousness and morality were held hostage by having to pick between a candidate who said she wants to bomb Iran, and another who epitomises privilege to an extent where sexual assault allegations are ignored, while in total focus is his political existence – which in itself is a venomous caricature.

What do you think a Trump presidency will mean for Muslims?
Institutionalisation and normalisation of violence. It's a betrayal of their American citizenship.

If you were an American Muslim, would you leave the US?
If I was living in the US I think I'd try and stay, because I'm hoping he gets impeached. But low-key, the prospect of cutting out of the place might not be a bad shout. To be honest, it's all a bit mad and I think this has been overdue. We can't act brand new over how this is; it's been happening longer than this election's lasted.