I am a Muslim immigrant and I feel safe in Trump’s America

Published: January 24, 2017
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I believe that I am safe and secure in Trump’s America. PHOTO: REUTERS.

On the chilly January day when President Trump took his oath as the 45th president of the United States, I was filled with mixed emotions of excitement and uncertainty. Generally, minorities, particularly Latino and Muslim immigrants, are especially concerned because of statements President Trump made against them during his campaign but I believe that I am safe and secure in Trump’s America.

I got several phone calls and text messages from family members and friends in Pakistan who were worried about my future in the US. I particularly remember the screen of my phone becoming bright and reading a message from my friend Ghias,

“Are you okay, Hassan bhai? It is a bad time for Muslims in the US.”

I closed my eyes and started to think, “Am I really unsafe in Trump’s America?” I picked up my phone and replied, “I am absolutely safe here.”

According to US Attorney General Loretta Lynch, there was a 6% increase in hate crimes in the States last year. But it should be remembered that not all hate crimes are against Muslims or other minorities. This number also includes hate crimes against Trump supporters. For example, a recent social-media video, widely viewed, showed four African American young adults verbally and physical assaulting a white guy with an intellectual disability. While there may be some incidents of hate crimes that go unreported, fake and over-reporting of hate crimes occur as well.

Last month, my friend, Roy Johnson, was accused of Islamophobia while having lunch at a local restaurant in Brooklyn, New York. He was waiting for his food to be delivered when a young Arab girl with a headscarf, sitting at an adjacent table, started to chat on her smartphone. She spoke loudly and was holding the phone away from her face. Roy gently asked her,

“Would you mind moving to a corner, you are very loud?”

The young girl took it as an offence against Islam and retorted,

“We Muslims, are not leaving this country – like it or not, we are here to stay!’’

She left Roy speechless. In his wildest imagination, he did not think his words could be interpreted as anti-Islam.

The irony is that Roy is a registered Democratic voter and one of the rare Americans who have regularly interacted with many Pakistanis in the past. He has driven me and my mother to Friday and Eid prayers and has fasted during Ramazan in respect for his Muslim friends. Moreover, he has let many physicians, their families, artists, and musicians from Pakistan stay in his house while they visit New York.

On the other hand at a national level, there have been several false reports of Islamophobia. In one false report, an 18-year-old Muslim girl accused three men of trying to take off her head scarf in a New York subway. In a similar false report, a University of Louisiana female Muslim student reported that she was harassed by young men who were wearing Donald Trump’s hats. These incidents did not happen.

There is a little doubt that Muslims live under clouds of paranoia and mistrust in a larger American society. The followers of radical and militant Islam are responsible for the current blame against Muslims in the US. The Boston marathon bombing, an NYC bomb blast, terrorism in Ohio State University, the San Bernardino shooting, and the deadly attack on a night club in Orlando were all orchestrated by Muslim radicals. These events have caused grave damage to the peaceful image of Muslims in America.

In my personal life, I am often more sceptical about meeting a new Muslim. I worry that person may have some militant mindset or maybe he is an undercover agent for a surveillance agency. For me, the odds of getting into trouble with some unknown Muslim ‘friend’ are higher than worrying about the policies of the state about Muslims.

President Trump has not mentioned banning Muslim immigration since his election. His nominee for Attorney General has opposed a national Muslim registry. Trump has even considered a Muslim, Zalmay Khalilzad, for a cabinet position. Only time can tell what his real policies towards Muslims will be.

There is a history of many nativism movements in the history of the United States. Irish, Italian, Chinese, and Japanese have faced severe discrimination, based on race, culture and sometimes religion. The lesson Muslims should learn is to integrate into the social and normally tolerant fibre of the society more than complaining about persecution. Meanwhile, I continue to feel safe in the United States and I trust, no matter who is president, this country will be run by the rule of law.

 

 

Hassan Majeed (MD)

Hassan Majeed MD

The author is working as a child and adolescent psychiatry fellow at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, NY. He is a marathon runner and his interests include art, culture, travel, gender, human rights, mental health, and education. He tweets @HassanMajeedMD (twitter.com/HassanMajeedMD)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Feroz

    Very few immigrants want to assimilate the way you did. Often they want to carry their excess baggage along with them as well as a mindset which made their own country a hell to live in.Recommend

  • Rohan

    The young girl is playing victimRecommend

  • Nouman

    Stockhome syndrome…..you should know much better than myself.Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    We Muslims, are not leaving this country – like it or not, we are here to stay!’’

    The lady was simply declaring your posture about the so called Trump America. The trumpers have no scruples about bigotry, racism or equal rights of the citizens(Period).

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • wb

    As if Muslims do or ever did in 1450 years!!!! Four Exclamation marks.Recommend

  • numbersnumbers

    Whereas Muslims have immaculate scruples about bigotry, racism or equal rights of citizens (period)! NOT! Recommend

  • Oats

    I think the author was implying that the woman was quick to jump to conclusions because she has probably already faced countless instances of derogatory comments or dirty looks about being an Arab woman in a head scarf. Arabs and Iranians are among the most disliked groups among Americans so she probably has endured a lot. I have seen Europeans give dirty looks and bad treatment to Muslim refugees in Europe the same way.Recommend

  • Ahmadi

    She is right.She cannot be safe in her country nor the freedom of sitting alone in a cafe..never in an arab nation.Why would she go back?Recommend

  • Critical

    Its better to a Muslim in Trump America than being a “wrong” sect of Muslim in an islamic countryRecommend

  • Saad Nazim

    This might help you with screening at immigration, but far from actual facts. I’m gobsmacked how occasions literally countable on my fingers you’ve quoted with with such grandeur where American Muslims have acted up.

    Also, you ought to read journals outside medicine to be more accurate with your claims about a bigot called Trump, he plans to ID Muslims and he will do so! Just to quote an extract from his inauguration speech, “radical Islamic terrorism” that he plans to eradicate. FYI; his definition of Islamic terrorism is every Muslim, hence the need to ID them.

    Finally, how condescending can one be to specifically point Muslims to integrate with community while claiming how diverse and welcoming America’s ethos is to immigrants, also let’s not forget these “Muslims” are equally Americans but perhaps some Americans are more equal than others…Recommend

  • Arealgirl88

    Thank you for this article. I encourage more Muslims to speak with self reflection as you do. It’s stupid to perpetuate grievance culture.Recommend

  • AntiStupidity

    Mr Hassan lives in a bubble. I am American pakistani and live in US in vastly diverse area. Such hate crimes are rare here as compared to a lot of states but just because i personally do not face it i will not make an assumption without giving any statistic data to support my claims. Truth is that just because you are so isolated from actual muslim community to know their grievences doesn’t justify that things are very well for muslims overall. From his own words he is more suspicious of other muslims he meet. In simple words he would rather meet someone who is not muslim is a clear indication there may not be a lot of muslims around him. He blames muslims not to assimilate enough in other words anything you do which you may be deemed as muslim is actually a hurdle in assimilation.Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    Muslims have played their part in history, brought down walls and barriers across the land disregarding the geographical lines of the cultural divide! Now is the turn of others to rebuilt the broken walls and the sand castles too knowng well that no matter whether the knife is above or under the mellon, it is the mellon which gets cut in half.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Ahmed

    The author seems to be using single personal stories as examples to get his point across. Clearly he has very little understanding of what different members of the Muslim diaspora have been experiencing in recent times in the United States. And also how the American ‘rule of law’ has always targetted people of faith and color, and how now this ‘rule of law’ is being used to harrass muslims and people of different groups.Recommend

  • Observer

    Obama has caused so much damage to this country that it would take a while to repair that. He was a third world charlatan who won due to reaction formation in his supportersRecommend

  • wb

    That narrative is against the historical facts. In layman’s words, a bunch of lies.

    All Muslim countries today have come into existing after erasing the local religions, cultures, languages.
    Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    I have seen Europeans give dirty looks and bad treatment to Muslim refugees in Europe the same way.

    I am a European too and live in a country which has allowed over two million mostly muslim asylum seekers. The arab woman need not wear a scarf if she wants to avoid a dirty look.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Rex Minor

    The north american continent is made up of immigrants, who are diverse in ethnicity and their cultures. This is a great advantage versus the one in other countries of the world. The lady need not go back and should try to integrate wherever she feels comfortable. The trumpers are also the bunch of migrants who came earlier.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Rex Minor

    All Muslim countries today have come into existing after erasing the local religions, cultures, languages.

    This is true not only for muslims but christians too who all brought enlightenment to the peoples of the world previously worshipping the avatar Gods except for those in the Far East who somehow escped their wrath on accout of reincarnation in the deep rainy forests and the mountainous regions of Himalayas and beyond.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Patwari

    The truth is, this is a Bullpucky blog. Can’t say how much of it is invented
    and how much was made up…..on a bad hair day.
    First of all, you DO NOT ask a restaurant customer to move to a corner
    because he/she is loud. No, you don’t do that, in ANY country. It would
    be better if YOU move away from there. Even the village idiot can tell you
    this. The rest of the blog is pablum. And you can see the pandering.
    The author claiming to be an ‘alleged’ doctor should try speaking in his
    native language, Urdu/Punjabi/Sindhi/Hindi,…while seated in an airplane.
    Say on Southwest airlines, Delta Airlines, United Airlines and see how fast
    they TAKE HIM OFF the plane. With security/police all over him.
    Then he will be singing a different tune, with a full orchestra and playback singers.
    “doctor” please get a life. Then writing silly blogs.Recommend

  • Reddy

    first islam the way muslims define it self is the issue,you don’t like the america or any other country the way it is but muslims want it to be the islamic america/UK/germany,most of them make no bones about it eithe,ppl lost patience with muslims world over,there is a dutch PM candidate whose single point agenda is to throw muslims out ,same is the case with france,in UK gelly beans in a school canteen was banned cuz some idiot thought it offended islam…now ppl are offended by islam,want it out… integration is the least of muslim problems which never gonna happen anyway,i know half of this comment will be edited diluted cuz it’s not you wanted to hear but it is the truthRecommend

  • liberal-lubna-fromLahore

    Another blog title that sounds exclusively like an express tribune title with anti Pakistan sentiments

    Author is obviously coming from a privileged point of view. He doesnt live in the ghettos of Texas where immigrants die daily from shootings and drug crimes.

    We have minorities in privileged spots as well who have it a LOT BETTER than you have it there.

    Oh you feel safe? Wait till you get deported by Trump

    Tell that to the Pakistani family who lost an elderly member of their family RANDOMLY stabbed by a white man in their own BACKYARD

    Tell that to the Pakistani wife whose husband was randomly shot and killed by a psycho white man while going on his way to work.

    Tell that to the international Pakistani student who was randomly killed on his own campus because some thugs were just looking for trouble?

    Of course the author would be unaware of such news because they like to live in denial.

    Problem is asylum seekers just could not rise above the competition in Pakistan. They constantly got job rejections and got poor grades in school. Now that uncle sam has granted them their precious asylum in the states, their only hobby is to spew hate against their motherland simply because they had it tough there.
    They have it tough here in US as well. Oh yes. But they wont admit it because then they are neither of Pakistan nor of US. They belong no where and have no place to call home.

    I am all for Pakistanis progressing and being successful abroad but this is no way to do it, that you just have to bash your home country first in order to feel better about your own miserable lives in the states.

    Shame on your sirRecommend

  • wb

    Not true. Again, a bunch of lies. Christianity at best erased religions in some cases, although they did not erase cultures and Languages.

    Enlightenment came to west only after they rejected Christianity and embraced secular sciences who were killed and persecuted by the church.

    Looks like your knowledge is not only rudimentary, but extremely corrupt.Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    You sir must be living in your bubble of alternative facts unless they teach you fairy tales instead of history! The Queen is the head of the anglican church in the UK whereas the vatican, the worlds richest institutions is situated in Rome, in control of the European catholics as well as those in Amercas. The leading culture as it is called in Europe reflects christian values and not secular or those practiced in godless cults It s a pity that christopher Columbus did not discover India but Americas where the accompanying spanish army annhilated the avatar Gods and christened the entire folks.

    Rex Minor .
    PS
    Secular Governments were first introduced by Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini in Germany and Italy after the concord with the Vatican, each operating independent of each other and this agreement is valid today, all institutions run by the church are independent of the Government to this date.Recommend

  • np

    How do you know she was a citizen?
    Do non-Muslims living in Saudi Arabia have equal rights as Muslims to pray or practice their own culture openly? Are the OPEC countries providing asylum?Recommend

  • gp65

    US was secular much before Hitler came on Horizon.
    And a man who killed 6 million Jews for no reason other than their religion was secular? Seriously? Where do you get these ‘facts’ from?Recommend

  • wb

    Sir, you clearly appear to be afraid of the history of Europe. European revolution did not start with the church. It was started by those who opposed the church. Europe did not get to where it is today because of regressive church. They got to where they’re today because they opposed religion.

    Rest of your tautology is irrelevant here. You might as well have written Einstein came up with theory of relativity and made as much relevance to the topic as most of your comment.Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    US is the only non muslim majority country which practces prohbition in a number of bible belt states. It depicts Moses on its supreme court building and displays genesis on the dollar. Hitler was not a secular nor Germany present leaders, but its Governments act independent of the authority of church. L

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • rex Minor

    I have not been to Saudi Arabia but it would seem that the will of the King is the law of the land. The Kings daughter is seen driving her sport car in Florida while she is apparently not permitted to drive in her own country.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Rex Minor

    Your kind sir rely on make believe stories despite the opportunity we have to learn from one another in todays globalised knowledge communities.
    Have a nice day.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Patwari

    The blog is ridiculous. And a joke. Pathetic.
    You can add:
    Tell this to the families of 27 Sikhs [men and women AND children]
    who were killed in a Gurdwara [temple] because a white supremacist
    gunman thought they were Muslims, because of the beards and turbans!1
    [some died months later from their injuries] this happened in Wisconsin.
    Tell this to the off duty Muslim policewoman whose hijab was wrenched
    from her head and cursed and slapped by an anti Muslim sicko.
    [she was picking up her child from school !!] In New York!!!
    Tell this to the Sikh taxi driver who was shot dead in Washington DC.
    because he was mistaken for a Muslim.
    Tell this to the Muslims whose mosques were vandalized in Texas and Oklahoma.
    Tell this to the Muslims of Florida where a crazy preacher burned the Holy Quran. Resulting in worldwide backlash !! And riots. You remember?
    Tell this to the Muslims of 7 mosques in California where pig’s heads were
    left!!
    This so called doctor is out of touch and reality.Recommend

  • siesmann

    The natives of North and South American Continents won’t agree with you-however many are left.Recommend

  • siesmann

    Close to half of Trump’s executive orders are anti-Muslim-many of them specifically so.. And it has been only a week into his administrations.Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    US was secular much before Hitler came on Horizon.

    Secular must have a different definition in Indian dictionary.
    Donald’s parents were Germans too and after his sworn in with religious ceremonies and help me God to protect the countrys constitution. his initial acts against mexicans and muslim immigrants must be reflecting the secular spirit of the country. You should go to the blacks and tell them that America is secular.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • liberal-lubna-fromLahore

    and now the 6 muslims who are DEAD in a mass shooting in Quebec
    and that MUSLIM boy who was pushed to his death on train tracks of New york subway in a RANDOM hate crime because a person thought he was a muslim.
    Yes, New York, where these fake liberals desperately seek asylum to.

    Death is inevitable. God exists. 2 basic belifs paki liberals seem to have forgotten.Recommend

  • Sajid Naqvi

    As a non-sunni I have to agree with Dr Majeed.Recommend