On CNN, Two Muslim Activists Explain How Trump's Rhetoric Can Lead To Backlash Against Muslims And Other Minorities

Sadyia Khalique: Trump's Islamophobia Is “Dangerous” Because “Anti-Muslim Statements ... Lead To An Increase In Hate Crimes”

From the December 8 edition of CNN's New Day:

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ALISYN CAMEROTA (HOST): What did you think when you heard Trump put out his statement saying he “is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the U.S. until our country's representatives can figure out what's going on?”

SADYIA KHALIQUE: Well first of all thank you for having me here. It's unconstitutional, it's un-American and it's not what you would expect a president to say, a future president to say, because he's attacking the Bill of Rights, which upholds the freedom of religion. And it's also dangerous.


KHALIQUE: Dangerous because you see we forget the correlation between statements like this, anti-Muslim statements, which lead to an increase in hate crimes. So you're seeing Muslims being attacked as a result of these, where young people or average Americans are coming out and utilizing, oh I support Trump or I support the fact that Muslims need to be deported and they'll come and attack Muslims.

CAMEROTA: Have you seen that more?

KHALIQUE: Yes, we have. Since Paris we've seen a lot of attacks on young Muslim women. Just recently this weekend we saw a young man being attacked and also a store owner being attacked, assaulted and called by the attacker, I'll kill Muslims.

CAMEROTA: Haroon, what is it like to be a Muslim in America today?

HAROON MOGHUL: It's under siege. I think that's the feeling, is that terrorists are attacking us as Americans, all of us. One of the victims in the San Bernardino shootings was a Muslim. And at the same time, after the attacks happen, then we face backlash because it's assumed that we're somehow complicit in it. And Donald Trump's rhetoric goes in that direction when he says things like you should kill the families of terrorists or ban all Muslims from entering the country. It's in effect saying that all of you are responsible for this. And at the same time, as if that's not bad enough, groups like ISIS are at war with the world's Muslims because we reject their ideology, we refuse their caliphate.

CAMEROTA: Trump is using words that are confusing and sometimes scary to Americans who are not Muslim. He's saying jihad, he's saying sharia. He uses them almost as synonymous with extremism. So what don't Americans understand about when they hear sharia and jihad? What should Americans know about how American Muslims practice these things?

KHALIQUE: I think it's important to know that American Muslims are your average Americans. To identify them or discriminate them by words such as terrorism or jihad or even call us the other, is, if anything, a way to scapegoat us. So we have to remember that Americans are your average firefighters, we're your police officers, we're your teachers. We're in your schools and your colleges, and we're just like any American standing up against any type of terrorist attacks.

CAMEROTA: Donald Trump's supporters tend to agree with him when he says provocative things. His poll numbers tend to go up. Here's just a sampling of how people, his supporters, responded after he made these comments yesterday. Listen to this.


CAMEROTA: Haroon, how do you break through his messaging to get to average people and say just what Sadyia just said?

MOGHUL: I think the way to break through is by appealing to people who don't listen to him and look at how security basically becomes a cover for an idea, something like racial purity, right? So when it came to Mexicans, which was only a few months ago, he said they're rapists, they're murderers. Some of them, he coyly suggested, might be good people, and then he proposes a wall. Then he talks about deporting huge numbers of Americans and their families. A Black Lives Matter protester shows up at one of his rallies, he's beaten up, Trump suggests that maybe he deserved it. On all these different issues Muslims are just the latest in this wave where he's going everywhere from anti-Semitic to anti-black to anti-Latino, where he uses security to justify policies that basically mean what he wants to do is privilege one kind of American and anyone else who doesn't fit that category basically is here on a probationary basis. It's not just Muslims.


CAMEROTA: Are you heartened to hear of the other Republican rivals coming out against it?

KHALIQUE: I think the key word is unity. We have to understand that in order to combat any form of terrorism or any act of violence, we have to stand united. And that's, again, the American principles. American Muslims stand with all faiths and all politicians who are supportive of Muslims and their rights and advocating for Muslim-Americans. So we have to stand united and remember tolerance in the time, in the crisis that we are facing right now.

CAMEROTA: And standing united, Haroon, does this mean -- does there need to be a march on Washington? Does there need to be some sort of visible symbol of combating this in your mind?

MOGHUL: From the Muslim community?


MOGHUL: Look, this is a debate that's really happening right now, where a lot of people are asking what more can we do? Unfortunately one of the realities is that we feel like being out in public might make us targets. And there's this frustration that you've got these extremists who are hiding even from their own families who are able to do this kind of damage, and we wonder what can we really do about this? And the sad fact is that even as we fight this kind of rhetoric, it's a very slow battle and it's going to take time to produce results. And in the meantime, we feel honestly a little bit like we're torn between people who assume we can't be American and then people who assume we can't be Muslim.


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