US Muslims warned not to wear hijab after Donald Trump’s shock election victory

Anti-Muslim rhetoric prompts fears of a new wave of Islamophobia across the US

Benjamin Kentish
Wednesday 09 November 2016 22:38 GMT
Donald Trump has pledged to ban Muslims from entering the USA
Donald Trump has pledged to ban Muslims from entering the USA (JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP/Getty Images)

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American Muslims have expressed “tremendous levels of fear” after Donald Trump was unexpectedly elected as the 45th President of the United States, with some saying they had been warned not to wear their hijabs.

The Republican has consistently criticised Muslims and during the campaign pledged to ban them from entering the USA, promising a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims” entering the country.

Many social media users responded with anxiety to his shock victory, with one Twitter user saying her mother had ordered her not to wear her hijab for fear of racist reprisals.

The tweet captured the sense of anxiety among US Muslims, many of whom fear a rise in Islamophobia in the US under Mr Trump's leadership.

As well as promising to ban Muslims entering the US, the new President-elect previously told countrymen that “Islam hates us” and claimed the religion is defined partly by “tremendous hatred”.

He also claimed the mother of a Muslim US soldier killed in combat was “not allowed to speak” at the Democratic convention because of her faith, despite there being no evidence that this was the case.

A spokesman for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations said American Muslims were anxiously waiting to see what would happen following Mr Trump’s election.

He told The Independent: “There are tremendous levels of fear given the anti-Muslim rhetoric we have seen from Donald Trump during this campaign.”

“Now we have to wait and see if it was all an act or if he’s really going to carry out these bigoted policies”.

“We will continue to defend the civil rights of all American regardless of who is in office. “

The organisation’s Executive Director, Nihad Awad, added: “The American Muslim community will continue to mobilize to challenge bigotry, to uphold justice and to protect the freedoms and rights of all Americans”

“American Muslims are here to stay. We are not going anywhere, and will not be intimidated or marginalized.”

It was a view shared by the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, which represents half a million Muslims in and around Chicago.

The organisation's spokesman told The Independent: “Many are disappointed and there is certainly some fear because of the vitriolic rhetoric towards Muslims we witnessed during the campaign”.

“This rhetoric is nothing new. What is new is how far he has gone with it. That is the shocking thing.”

"There is a climate of Islamophobia here that the Muslim community has been dealing with, particularly since 9/11, so this is not the first time we’ve heard this type of rhetoric. What is different is what was said, the way it was said and threats that were made – that is in many ways unprecedented.”

Despite the concerns, the spokesman emphasised there was “a lot of hope” because of the work that has been done to promote civic engagement among US Muslims.

This was important because it gave the Muslim community "confidence that their voice could be heard", which "has eased the stress”. 1 million Muslims across the US were registered to vote in this election – double the number who registered in 2012, he added.

British Muslims also expressed concern about the impact of Mr Trump’s victory.

Harun Khan, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Great Britain said: ““The people of the United States have clearly spoken and I congratulate Mr Trump”.

“There is however, a justifiable concern about his election. It is hugely worrying that a man who has openly called for discrimination against Muslims and other minorities has become the leader of a superpower nation.

“We hope the bombast and rhetoric we have seen from Mr Trump in the last few months gives way to a more reconciliatory approach. The President-elect must demonstrate that his election is not a green light for bigotry for the rest of the world.”

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London and a practicing Muslim, called on the new US president to “do everything in his power to unite people and bring divided communities back together”, according to the Evening Standard.

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