Trump’s lasting legacy: Muslim Americans, fearful and feared

Trump’s lasting legacy: Muslim Americans, fearful and feared

Trump’s lasting legacy: Muslim Americans, fearful and feared

America has endured four of its most brutal and turbulent years in history. The Trump Era has finally ended. But will the bigotry that has been normalised under his Presidency live on?

In the aftermath of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, America has endured four of its most brutal, turbulent, and hate-filled years in history. The Trump Era: a period defined by ignorance, bigotry and violence towards America’s marginalised communities. Donald Trump has fuelled and ultimately normalised this blatant hate-filled rhetoric as part of the national Republican Party, and on a wider scale. He made history as the first U.S. President to be impeached twice, and the first to incite the level of insurrection that led to the white supremacist attempted coup on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, in which five people were killed.

And at midday on January 20, 2021, the Trump Era finally ended. A moment in American history which heralded hope for its marginalised groups; not only is Trump out of the Presidential Office, but suspended from Twitter, and other social media accounts. Yet it is feared that the bigotry that has been normalised under his Presidency will live on.

Muslim communities have been affected by Trump’s political rise. Half of Muslim Americans say it has been harder to be Muslim in the U.S. over the past four years. Many have expressed extreme levels of fear of Islamophobia, which has gone mainstream under the Trump administration. “There is a climate of Islamophobia here that the Muslim community has been dealing with, particularly since 9/11, so this is not the first time we’ve heard this type of rhetoric. What is different is what was said, the way it was said and threats that were made – that is in many ways,” wrote one Twitter user. “The least racist person that you’ve ever encountered,” Trump described himself to The Washington Post in 2016; yet this is an account of his long history of Islamophobic bigotry and its impact on Muslim communities in America.

Donald Trump has insinuated that President Barack Obama was secretly a Muslim on a multitude of occasions, a delusion that now resonates with high percentage of U.S. Conservatives. In 2015, Trump shockingly agreed with a supporter who claimed that “we have a problem in this country; it’s called Muslims,” at a campaign rally, who continued on to say, “when can we get rid of [Muslims]?” In the same year, he vindictively alleged that “thousands and thousands” of Muslims cheered in New Jersey when the World Trade Center collapsed on 9/11.

In 2017, one of Trump’s first moves after taking office was enforcing the “Muslim Ban”, barring the entry of foreign nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries from to the U.S., which the JAN Trust has discussed in a blog prior; including Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. This policy also saw the suspension of all refugee arrivals. President-Elect Joe Biden has claimed that one of his first actions, following his inauguration, will be to reverse this ban. Serving a racist agenda rather than a national security purpose, it was yet another abuse of power by the Trump administration designed to further marginalise minority groups.

Examples of Trump’s anti-Muslim bigotry go on and on, from retweeting a series of anti-Muslim videos by Jayda Fransen, one of the leaders of the far-right group Britain First, to falsely claiming that “Islam hates us,” in March 2016. A study published in 2019 by Warwick University titled ‘From Hashtag to Hate Crime: Twitter and Anti-Minority Sentiment’, highlighted that Trump is more likely to tweet about Muslims on days when he plays golf. Furthermore, Trump’s tweets also predict more anti-Muslim Twitter activity of his followers. Minnesota congresswoman Ilhan Omar, for example, has drawn links between tweets by Trump targeting her Muslim faith to “an increase in direct threats on my life – many directly referring or replying to the president’s video”. The mainstream acceptance of the anti-Muslim bigotry under Trump’s presidency is clear, and an increase in hate-crime as a result.

“It’s not opinion to state that the president has used his platform to demonise minority ethnic immigrants, it’s a fact”, wrote Sabrina Siddiqui for The Guardian.

How has this rising anti-Muslim hostility in the U.S impacted the experiences of Muslim communities? The reported number of anti-Muslim hate crimes has doubled since Donald Trump’s presidential campaign compared to the presidencies of Barack Obama and George W. Bush. In a survey from 2017, 75% of Muslim Americans believe there’s a lot of discrimination against Muslims in the United States. The Trump Era has ultimately fuelled the fire of Islamophobia in the U.S. Yet across the U.S, Muslim Americans have continued to speak out about their Islamophobic experiences, with a record number of Muslim voters than any previous presidential election. The normalisation of this anti-Muslim bigotry cannot and will not be perpetuated any longer.

JAN Trust hopes to allay Muslim women’s fear of xenophobia across the world by providing a safe space for them to integrate within British society. To find out more about our work, go to https://jantrust.org/.