On CNN, Muslim Leaders Explain How Trump's Muslim Ban Hurts Their Communities

Haroon Hoghul: “There's A Feeling ... That There's This Rise In Anti-Muslim Sentiment,” Which Is Now “Coming From More Senior Levels Of Our Society”

From the January 30 edition of CNN's New Day:

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ALISYN CAMEROTA (CO-HOST): Mr. Jaka, I want to ask you, because you have a huge community there, you are the chairman of the second largest, I believe, mosque and Muslim community in the country. So what is it like for your community? What has the response been to this travel ban? 

RIZWAN JAKA: Alisyn, thank you so much. Peace be with you. As the American Muslim community, we absolutely believe in national security, and we believe in the Constitution and upholding American values and democracy. And we believe that -- we actually had a Holocaust survivor at our mosque yesterday for Holocaust Remembrance Day and she said it very clearly, that we must welcome the stranger, as the Jewish community has spoken out, the Christian community has spoken out, that we must welcome people of all faiths and backgrounds. The refugees, the immigrants. And so we absolutely agree with the interfaith community that we must uphold the American values. I went over to Dulles airport after the Holocaust remembrance event and I spoke to people there and heard about stories about a U.S. citizen, his sons, who are green cardholders from Yemen, were made to turn away their green cards and they were turned back. Now they're stuck in Ethiopia. Christian Syrians were turned back. And so this executive order's unintended consequences or intended consequences has really causing a lot of challenges and concerns in the Muslim community, Christian community, Jewish community, and across the interfaith communities. 

CAMEROTA: Haroon, last night there was an attack on a mosque in Quebec City, Canada. Six people have been killed. We don't know much, we don't know from investigators yet exactly who the people were behind this, or if this was terrorism. But we do know from the ACLU that there has been a spike in anti-mosque activity ever since the San Bernardino attacks. Are Muslims scared right now? 

HAROON HOGHUL: Most people are really scared. And it's unfortunate but it's a reality. Pretty much every Muslim I know in the U.S. and Canada is really uneasy right now. There's a feeling of being squeezed from both sides that there's this rise in anti-Muslim sentiment. And now that it's coming from more senior levels of our society, it's much more acceptable. So bigots, racists are more emboldened. And then you've got extremist groups who target Muslims, or at least smear Muslims, because they justify their actions in the name of religion. So there's this feeling of the walls closing in. I'll say me personally, I was really overwhelmed this weekend when everything happened at JFK [airport], when the Iraqi interpreters who worked with the U.S. military were being detained. It is this feeling of what is happening right now? Where is this Muslim ban going? Is this the first step to something darker? But I will say, and something that I've seen this weekend, is there's so much good right now in this country. I mean the fact that people spontaneously came to one airport and then two and now, as the former governor said in a previous segment, 90 airports across the country, thousands of people all over the United States standing up. And that's something that I think a lot of people hold on to and have to realize and remember, is that we're actually the majority, that most Americans are not comfortable with this and where this is going and most Americans are willing to stand up against this kind of treatment.


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