New York: On the morning after the election, Alia Ali had a sickening feeling as she headed to her job as a secretary at a New York City public school, her hijab in place as usual.
Ali is a Muslim who lives and works in one of the most diverse places in the US, and yet the ascension of Donald Trump to the White House left her wondering how other Americans really viewed her.
“Half of America voted one way and half of America voted the other, and you’re like, ‘Which half am I looking at?'” she said.
“You become almost like strangers to the people you’ve worked with. Is this person racist? Do they like me? Do they not like me? Because that’s what this election has done.”
American Muslims are reeling following the election of Trump, whose campaign was rife with anti-Muslim rhetoric and proposals that included banning Muslims from entering the country and heightened surveillance of mosques across the nation.
Now, among many of the 3.3 million Muslims living in the US, there is significant fear, along with some reports of harassment; one hijab-wearing student at San Diego State University said she was briefly choked by suspects who made remarks about Trump’s victory.
“There are lots and lots of people who aren’t going out of the house,” said Eboo Patel, a Muslim who heads the Interfaith Youth Core, a Chicago-based organisation that works with colleges and government officials to build interreligious relationships.
At New York University late last week, hundreds of people sat shoulder-to-shoulder on a grand staircase of a student center to express solidarity after the word “Trump!” was scrawled on the door of a Muslim prayer space at the school.
Students spoke of friends who wore headscarves or other traditional clothing and were afraid to take public transportation home for fear of being harassed.
Sana Mayat, a 21-year-old senior who wears the hijab, said the election made her realise “there was a large part of this country that didn’t want me here.”
“There is an intense state of anxiety about the future,” said Rami Nashashibi, a parent of three and executive director of Chicago’s Inner-City Muslim Action Network, which has been inundated with calls seeking support since Election Day.
“I grappled with the conversation I had to have with my children.”
The outcome was especially bitter following an unprecedented voter registration drive by American Muslims, including get-out-the-vote sermons at mosques and the creation of a political action committee, Emerge USA, to mobilize Arabs and Muslims.