In December 2015, Donald Trump issued a statement that called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” A few months earlier, he called Latino immigrants drug dealers, criminals and rapists. During his campaign for presidency, Trump has made several other bigoted and misogynistic remarks that have alienated many. The Islamophobic, racist, xenophobic and misogynistic rhetoric adopted by Trump throughout his campaign has had a negative impact on minorities and women not just in the US, but also globally.
An NBC poll conducted in December 2015 for example, showed that one in four Americans supported Trump’s ban on Muslims entering the United States. In March 2016, more than half of the American population supported this idea. This is echoed amongst the younger generation too, as seen in a report issued in April 2016 which stated that Trump’s campaign was having a ‘profoundly negative effect on children and classrooms’ producing fear and anxiety among children of colour and intensifying racial tensions in the classroom. Teachers have noted an increase in bullying, harassment and intimidation of students whose races, religions or nationalities have been the verbal targets of candidates on the campaign trail.
The US presidential election this year has proven to be a difficult one, and has had a negative impact on many minority groups, also resulting in repercussion for those in Europe. The results from the European Referendum in the UK caused a ‘horrible spike’ in hate crime according to the Met Police, particularly targeting those of Eastern European backgrounds. A survey by Tell MAMA, a project that measures anti-Muslim hate, found a 326% rise in incidents post-Brexit including a situation where a woman’s hijab was pulled off in a busy London street.The normalisation of racial language and abuse may be something that will continue in the rest of Europe and become more deep-rooted as we see the possibility of far-right leaders such as Marine Le Pen and Norbert Hofer feel empowered by a Republican win and may create opportunities to make minorities more vulnerable.
In an uncertain time, we must emphasize how imperative it is to stand together, united. We may not know what the future holds, but we can probably expect one thing; the situation for many minority groups in society will become worse as young Muslim women consider taking off the hijab for their own safety.For us, the European Muslim youth and all who believe in fighting against racism and bigotry in every sense and believe in standing up for humanity, it is important to unite in solidarity. We cannot sit back and allow hate crimes to increase and for individuals to feel like they are in danger in their own country. We have to at least speak up and follow the heritage of our Prophet (pbuh), who taught us to stand up against all types of injustice. We need glimpses of hope and not greater powerlessness and hopelessness caused by racist beliefs and discriminatory structures. Let’s not build walls, instead, let’s build bridges. Let’s make it possible to live in an open society with equality, justice and peace. It may be difficult to rise up to the challenge in the current climate, but we have no other choice than to be resilient.