As Trump’s America is only days away, it is important to acknowledge how many millions of Americans are devastated from the outcome of the 2016 election.
One of the primary reasons for this response stems from the public concern about how the leadership of the Trump administration will affect the millions of Muslim citizens and immigrants across our nation.
This question remains a mystery driven by speculation, but most importantly the radical claims he has made throughout his campaign. Trump began by proposing a ban on Muslim immigration, then an immigration ban on certain countries and now “extreme vetting.”
His policy proposals reflect a shifting nature of his campaign promises. He justifies these proposed policies by referring to the ongoing threat of terrorism — largely motivated by Islamic extremism. However, in the eyes of many, Trump’s intended policies are unethical.
Yet, such immigration bans have occurred throughout U.S. history. The 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act and follow-up 1922 Chinese immigration act essentially banned East Asian immigration based on race. By 1943, this legislation was repealed due to the Magnuson Act. In order to get a better sense of how the passing of such legislation would personally affect Muslims in the U.S., I interviewed two Muslim international students studying in the U.S. and asked them how they feel about Trump’s intended policies.
Moctar Diarra is originally from Mali, a country in Western Africa. He moved to the U.S. in June 2003. His father, a Malian diplomat, was hired to work for the U.N. as the Special Adviser on Africa and as the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries, and Small Island Developing States, eventually being appointed Secretary General to Ban-Ki-moon (Secretary-General of the U.N.) in January of 2008.
As a Muslim international student living in the U.S., Diarra felt as if that the election of Trump alone, based on the numerous claims he has made, has fundamentally re-shaped his perception of American culture. To him, the outcome of the election reflects a tendency for Americans to generalize too quickly: “America loves to label instead of communicating and understanding each other. There are a lot of misunderstandings that turn into ill will or even hate.”
Mamoun Mohattane is a Moroccan Muslim living in the U.S. and studying at Boston University where he is currently a sophomore. As a Muslim, he felt surprised like many others that Trump was elected. However, it did not change his previously held opinions about American culture. “It did not change any ideas I had about the American culture. Voting is a right and I won’t judge people who voted for Trump,” Mohattane said.
The election of Trump has redefined the meaning of what it means to be American for Diarra, while Mohattane has not allowed the result of the election to modify his previously held opinions about American values and culture.
In regards to Trump’s intended policies, Diarra feels strongly that he could be facing much adversity in years to come as an international student living in the U.S. With much of his family still living in Mali, religious differences could become a legitimate cause for drastic immigration legislation to be passed in the coming years.
“I hope that the progress that the country was on track to make doesn’t get erased or veer off the path,” Diarra said. “I hope the anti-Muslim ban that would stop my family from coming to visit me doesn’t happen, as Mali is listed among them.”
Mohattane spoke mostly of religious profiling in regards to Trump’s intended policies. “If profiling works and there aren’t any terrorist attacks or at least fewer, and there’s a direct correlation between meaning that they stop terrorist attacks thanks to profiling; then I’m fine with that,” Mohattane said. “If it is directed towards Muslims, there’s a reason. The terrorists are Muslims. Some might think it is racist, I don’t think it is, I think it’s realistic.”
Mohattane’s viewpoint indicates acceptance or even endorsement of Trump’s intended policies if they are pushed through. He would not be opposed to the profiling of Muslims in America, as he feels that terrorism in the U.S. has largely been caused by Muslims. He feels as though Muslim extremists unfortunately identify with Islam, and that if Trump’s proposals are the necessary steps that America as a society has to take to protect its citizens from extremism, then they should.
While Trump’s intended policies remain unclear, millions of individuals within the U.S. feel that the freedom they are entitled to could be stripped away. The voices of these two Muslim International students studying in American Universities in a period of sheer incertitude reflect how Muslims around the U.S. feel personally affected by the radical claims of our next president.