Mixed reaction to Trump from prominent Muslim Americans

How do Muslim Americans feel about Trumps presidential victory?

A woman wearing a Muslim headscarf walks past people holding U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump signs before the annual Muslim Day Parade in the Manhattan borough of New York City
'The bottom line is that Trump's election is a slap on the face of American media which feeds on anti-Arab, anti-Muslim racism more than Donald Trump ever did.' [Stephanie Keith/Reuters]

After a divisive presidential campaign, Donald Trump became the 45th US president-elect, securing the 270 electoral votes needed to win the election on Tuesday night. Muslim Americans greeted the news with a mixture of emotions, with some reacting positively and others with great concern. 

The leader of the Republican Muslim Coalition, Saba Ahmed, told Al Jazeera that she is super-excited that Republican candidate Donald Trump had won the presidency.

“The Republican Muslim Coalition is looking forward to working with president Trump.”


While most Muslim Americans appeared to have been insulted and turned off by Trump’s offensive remarks against the community, especially when he said he wants to “ban Muslims from coming to the US” should he win the elections, Ahmed argues that Muslim Americans should put that behind them and “stop playing victims”.

Muslims in this country should become “more proactive and have strategic outreach to the Republicans,” she said. “We cannot afford to remain partisan and support only the Democratic Party.”

But for Moussa ElBayoumi, who heads the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR) branch in the state of Kansas, Trump’s win is unsettling due to the anti-Muslim sentiments he expressed during his presidential campaign.

Elbayoumi called on president-elect Trump “to respect the United States constitution and the values upon which it is built”.

If the new president failed to live up to his duties as a president of all Americans regardless of their racial, religion and national background, Elbayoumi said, “CAIR would stand ready to defend the civil liberties of all American citizens, including Muslim Americans”.

Basil al-Qudwa, who teaches economics at Al Huda University in Houston, Texas, on the other hand, sees no immediate threats coming from a Trump administration against Muslim or Arab Americans.

Qudwa thinks that  Muslim American numbers in the US are comparatively small and statistically insignificant. He argues that Trump’s win is not an anomaly given the economic stagnation in the US over the past decade.

“Once you have economic crises in a society, nationalism spikes which then leads to the emergence of populist leaders such as Trump.”

Latinos stand to lose the most during a Trump administration, Al Qudwa argues, because of their numbers.

Other issues Trump used to energise his supporters, such as building a wall on the border with Mexico and deporting illegal aliens, are more prominent.

Arab-American journalist Ray Hanania, who supported Trump all along, faults the mainstream American media for misleading and conditioning the public that Hillary Clinton win would be an inevitable conclusion.

“Trump’s rhetoric has been exaggerated by the media to help Clinton – the quintessential insider – hold on to power, ” Hanania said.

Hanania also argued that Trump received more support from women, Latinos and blacks than Mitt Romney did in 2012, which shows how deceptive American mainstream media were.

“The bottom line is that Trump’s election is a slap on the face of American media which feeds on anti-Arab, anti-Muslim racism more than Donald Trump ever did.”

Hanania’s optimism about Trump was not shared, though, by fellow Chicagoan Shadin Maali, a well-known social activist. Maali said she was in a state of disbelief.

“How is it possible that here in America in 2016 could a man who has based his campaign on hatred, bigotry and divisiveness win the hearts and minds of so many American people?” she said.

Follow Ali Younes on Twitter: @ali_reports

Source: Al Jazeera