By Desirae Gooding
Fatimah Mozawalla remembers election night well. Being a serious student at Hofstra University, she had been wracked with worry over an organic chemistry exam she would take the next day. Mozawalla now worries for her younger sister, 6. Terrified and grief-stricken after Trump’s victory, the little girl told her: “We have to leave America.”
“To hear a six year-old child say that, it’s very scary,” she said. “A child shouldn’t be scared.”
Mozawalla says that this fear is not necessarily of the president-elect himself, but rather of the bigotry that has followed him. Anti-Muslim hate crimes have increased by 67 percent, according to an FBI report released this week.
“[Trump] preaches that he wants to unify our country,” she said. “I think it’s really important for moving forward and for the future, to inspire his followers – and inspire those who voted for him, and who really look up to him – to stop committing these acts of hate.”
“[Muslim-Americans] are Americans first,” Dr. Diann Cameron-Kelly, Social Work professor at Adelphi University, said. “Therefore, they should be treated with all of the dignity and respect that you would treat any other American with.”
Muslim-Americans should not be fearful, Cameron-Kelly said. “We don’t know what Mr. Trump is going to do and therefore, we should be hopeful that he will abide by the Constitution and [do] what is appropriate for the citizenry,” she added.
“I understand that Muslim-Americans are scared, but [Trump] cannot possibly go through with some of the [outrageous] things he called for, like banning Muslims,” Fuad Faruque, biology major at Stony Brook University, said.
Farque said that Trump is a far better choice for the country economically and that he welcomes the president-elect.
An irony in Trump’s words was seen by Rosheen Awais, a psychology major at Hofstra University. Awais admitted to having been afraid.
“Hearing that someone who doesn’t want the same people that actually makes America – that makes America great,” Awais said. “he doesn’t want those people in the country, he wants to deport them.”
Awais has lived in this country her whole life, her parents run a perfumes business here, she receives an education here and there is nowhere else she can go. “This is my home,” she said. Awais claimed that despite making jokes about ‘returning home,’ her parents are deeply worried for her, as well as their own, safety following Trump’s victory.
“My mom tells me: stay safe,” Awais said. “She tells me: ‘Pretend you’re talking on the phone when you’re driving a car,’ or ‘Walk with someone when you’re going to and from, so no one comes and harms you.’”
In spite of the fear, Awais seemed to see a silver lining. “It was scary because now you think there’s an authority that says that minorities aren’t acceptable, or that we don’t want minorities in America,” she said, “But, minorities – all different kinds of people – are the kinds of people that make up America. I feel confident that we can make change, now that we have a stimulant to cause change.”
Uniting as a country is the key to moving forward, said Mozawalla. To do so, the alienation of certain groups must end.
“It’s essential if Trump wants to unify America, to make sure that he doesn’t marginalize these communities: the African American communities, the Hispanic communities, the gay communities, the women,” Mozawalla said, “Working together and unifying America is the only way to move forward.”