The head of a leading civil rights organization has urged Muslim Americans to “stay strong” following the election of Donald Trump.
Trump made a number of Islamophobic remarks during his presidential campaign, including his infamous demand that the U.S. close its borders to all Muslims attempting to enter. He later modified that position to a suspension of immigration from countries where there is a “proven history of terrorism” against the U.S. or its allies.
And in yet another proposal he called for Muslim neighborhoods and mosques to be monitored as said he would reinstitute banned torture techniques against terror suspects and their families.
As shocking as those proposals are, Muslim Americans are now more anxious than ever as Trump readies himself to take control of the White House next year, raising the possibility that his anti-Muslim proposals could become reality.
The Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said Muslims, like other Americans, belonged to the U.S. and contributes to American society.
“We are not going anywhere. No one can uproot us from our country and we have to remain positive and hopeful,” Nihad Awad said. “We should not allow fear to paralyze us.”
He described Trump’s victory as a “surprise” for many Americans, but said the country accepted the outcome because it was the result of a democratic process.
As Americans, Awad asked the billionaire real estate developer turned president-elect to be presidential and assure Muslims and all minority groups that he would not enact policies “based on ethnic background, religion or country of origin.
“This is what the Constitution and the law of the country say: equal protection and equal treatment,” Awad said.
Trump, who will be sworn in alongside his vice president on Jan. 20, has a responsibility to make sure he will not discriminate against Muslims but show respect, according to Awad.
Asked whether he expected Trump to change, Awad said if the past is any indication, “Donald Trump will continue to be Donald Trump” by being “bigoted” and “offensive” against several minority groups.
“We hope that this will not be the fact because this country is built on institutions, on separation of powers, on the rule of law,” he said.
But in case Trump continues with Islamophobic rhetoric and enacts policies detrimental to Muslims while in the Oval Office, Awad said his organization has strengthened ties with other minority groups in preparation for a worst scenario — a possible crackdown on minorities and on the Muslims community.
He promised his organization would walk hand in hand with American Muslims because he said he believes God is the almighty and will reward those who are patient and do good deeds.