I keep getting asked: why are you Muslim when Islam hates women and is intolerant of other religions? It’s a question I’m asked quite often by Trump Supporters. It baffles me, hearing a Trump supporter ask, "how can you support a movement that demonizes other religions and treats women so horrible?” Because that is my question for them, How can you support a person and a movement that is bigoted towards other religions and sexist towards women?
When I step back and reflect upon it, it blows my mind. We are both looking at each other asking the same exact question.
I clearly feel like I am right and that they are wrong. I believe people are misinformed about my religion. That they take out of context quotes, or misquotes, or misinformation and form an inaccurate picture about my religion. I feel that people take all of this wrong information and use it to stereotype my entire religion.
And then I hear the same feelings echoed back to me from the other person. They feel that my opinion on Trump comes from out of context quotes, or misinformation, and etc. They share with me that yes, there are extremists who support Trump, but that the everyday Trump supporter is a good person.
The mirror reflection of the conversation just stuns me.
I understand the difference of where we stand in regards to privilege and power. I'm defending my religious identity rather than my political opinion. Trump is the president of the U.S. and has all the power that goes with that. Whereas, Islam, in the context of the U.S., does not have systemic power or privilege.
As an individual, I feel massive amounts of fear because of Islamophobia. The question is heavy on my mind, what will it mean to be a Muslim in a Trump nation? Already I have seen the consequences: People having their hijabs torn off, Muslims being yelled at and attacked in the streets, a man was planning a massive shooting on the Mosque/Masjid I attend, and threats of forced registration. I feel this fear everyday. And it must be said, I am an extremely privileged Muslim. I walk around everyday and people have no idea I’m Muslim. I can’t even begin to imagine the fraction of what someone feels who is visibly assumed to be Muslim.
I’ve shared this with many Trump supporters over the past few weeks. And then they tell me, well that’s the way they feel about Islam. That they live in constant fear of terrorist attacks, or their rights being taken away by sharia law, or of ISIS, and that its unsafe to be a Christian in this world.
I tell them that’s crazy. All of those things are exaggerated and fear mongered by the media and politicians. ISIS has nothing to do with Islam. And then they tell me that I’m crazy. That I’ve been brainwashed by the media and fear mongers and that all the things I’ve heard about Trump are lies.
This leaves me reflecting, what next? Where do we go from here? What is an effective way forward? When we both are staring at each other feeling the exact same way: "I’m right, you’re wrong. My people suffer because you’re people are crazy. I am justified in my feelings and correct in my facts."
My intention of this post is to share these thoughts that have been bouncing in my head and then listen. And so I’ll conclude with, what are your thoughts? What does this mirror conversation mean? What comes next?