News

How Do Swedish Muslims Feel About Trump's Victory?

"I would've left the US if I had the opportunity to do so. It's not safe for you to live there if you're not white."
16.11.16
Source: CNN

A slightly different version of 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.

European Muslims already have a sense of what a Trump presidency might feel like. In the aftermath of the terror attacks in Paris one year ago, there was a rise in open racism, hate crimes and xenophobia directed towards Muslims. We spoke to some of Trump's least favourite people, young Muslims in Sweden, about what their thoughts and fears are in light of the election result.

Anes, 23

VICE: Hey Anes, what are your thoughts on Trump's victory?
Anes: I feel very motivated to look after the people I love, and I worry for Muslims and other minorities who could be harmed because of this. Whether or not Donald Trump stands behind what he's promised during his campaign, the fact is that his victory comes from an angry mass voting for him. I also feel calm because maybe the next president has to consider the needs of all Americans. Hopefully, this only leads to reuniting the country a bit more, in the end.

What could a Trump presidency mean for Muslims in the world?
I think people in other countries will have to work harder to avoid a similar outcome in their countries, particularly where Muslims are a minority. Mostly, I think people will wait and see what happens next.

Annons

Does this make you feel closer or further from your identity as a Muslim?
Neither. But I think it will affect the way I speak about it. It's not like I won't mention my religion if we talk about it. But I will think about the way I talk about Islam. Especially with people who aren't personally connected with Islam. How can I find a way to get people to look beyond their prejudice? Are you worried about travelling to the US now?
No.

Anesa, 24

VICE: How did you feel when you saw the outcome of the election?
Anesa: It still feels like it hasn't happened. I'm going through the first stage of mourning.

What would a Trump presidency mean for Muslims?
I'm not sure. I don't think he'll make records of people or anything like that… But now when I think about it – I didn't think someone like Trump could become the president at all, so who knows? I fear that all the racist, sexist and xenophobic things he's said will be common in society. People will be able to say outrageous things and get away with it. Does it make you want to identify more or less as a Muslim?
Less. It kind of goes against my morals to "hide" who and what I am but I also think religion is a personal thing. My background and morals have nothing to do with anybody else. I am not ready to be outspoken about my background, but I will defend my religion if I have to. For example, if I'm ever put in a position where somebody wearing a hijab is being harassed, I will protect that person.

Annons

Are you worried about travelling to the US now?
Not really. I'm white and from southern Europe so I'm kind of "undercover" when it comes to racial profiling.

Mehdi, 25

VICE: How are you feeling, Mehdi?
Mehdi: To be honest, I'm not very surprised. I think it's similar to what's going on in Sweden with the Sweden Democrats. Trump represents what a lot of people are thinking but don't dare to say out loud. He played on a lot of people's fear and ignorance and turned it into a campaign. So it wasn't that shocking that he received support throughout the election. But in one way it's shocking that he actually won.

What will a Trump presidency mean for Muslims?
In Sweden, the Islamophobia isn't as in your face as it is in the US. It's more underground here. But it is very much there. I think that this will give people in the US the courage to display their hatred more openly, which is very frightening. I also think that it will affect the level of bigotry and hatred around the world. I know women in Sweden who have had their veils pulled off by strangers in public – I've even experienced it first-hand. It's probably going to be more of that, unfortunately.

Does it affect how strongly you identify as a Muslim?
Not really. I usually don't feel the need to talk about my faith, but if someone asks I'll always answer openly. I don't think that will change.

Are you worried about travelling to the US now?
I don't really think it will be an issue for me to go because my looks aren't how people expect Muslims to look like. I worry more about the safety of my sisters who wear a veil.

Lalo, 23

VICE: What are your thoughts on Trump being the next president of the United States?
Lalo: The thought of Trump scares me, but what's even scarier is that millions and millions of people in a developed democratic country voted for him.

What would a Trump presidency mean for Muslims?
I think that a lot of the racism and hatred that used to be limited to private spaces will become more socially accepted. If the president of the United States says all Muslims are potential terrorists, how are you supposed to stop people, media or police from saying and thinking the same thing?

Annons

Do you travel to the US and does this make you worried about travelling there in the future?
I've had a lot of trouble entering the US since the first time I went there. I'm always selected for the random security check and a 30-minute extra interview with their customs authority, but they're usually friendly. I often feel anxious before and humiliated afterwards, but I always get in. I guess the atmosphere will be different next time but I'm not worried. I still consider American people warm and friendly. Remember, the majority of people did vote for Hillary Clinton.

Amal, 20

VICE: What was your first reaction when you found out that Trump was elected the next president of the United States?
Amal: I was surprised, but happy at the same time. Trump being the president means that people will finally wake up and go against the white racist system the US is built upon. After Trump was announced as the president people went out on the streets and started protesting.

What do you think a Trump presidency will mean for Muslims?
Trump as the president will make life more difficult for Muslims all over the world but particularly for Muslims living in the Middle East and Africa. Muslims living in the West might see an increase in hate crimes and populistic political parties will rise faster than before.

If you were an American Muslim, would you leave the US?
Yes, I would've left the country, if I was given the opportunity. I don't think it's safe for you to live there if you're not white.

Annons

Interviews have been edited for clarity and length.

Additional reporting by Nilu Zia and Aretha Bergdahl.

More from VICE:

Swedish Muslim Women Talk About How It Feels to Be Constantly Spoken For

Donald Trump Just Called for Ending All Muslim Immigration to the US

This Swedish MP Thinks Young Muslims Don't Condemn the Paris Attacks