Concerned US and Canadian Muslims weigh in on rising Islamophobia

While Trump's ban has been rescinded and the Quebec shooter apprehended, the shock doesn't subside so easily.
Published February 11, 2017

Last month, North America witnessed instances of blatant Islamophobia and religious and racial hatred.

Not long after the new American president Donald Trump announced a visa ban on seven Muslim-majority countries and a hold on the intake of Syrian refugees, a mosque in Quebec City, Canada, was attacked by a shooter that killed half a dozen worshippers.

Trump's ban has since been made non-functional by a court and the Quebec shooter apprehended, but the shock doesn't subside so easily.

The following is a selection of reactions by's readers in Canada and the United States after what happened in their respective countries.

"Inshallah this madness will be stopped"

Maggy Antebi-Wilson, psychotherapist, Ottawa, Canada.

"I am Canadian, Jewish, born in Egypt, raised in Montreal and married to a Protestant from Scotland. Our children are proud to be enriched by so many different cultures.

I, like many Jews, decry the horrible terrorist attack on the mosque in Quebec City which claimed the lives and well being of so many, including the sense of security and peace of mind of the community.

Like many of my generation, my parents fled persecution in Nasser’s Egypt, a country which my parents loved and where they had felt welcome. The Cairo synagogue where my parents were to be married was burned to the ground. Fortunately, it was empty at the time. By comparison to the annihilation of our European brethren at the hands of Hitler and his Nazi murderers, our journey was relatively easy.

Once in Quebec, suspicion and intolerance of the ‘other’ amongst a small group of racist pure laine [those of 'pure' ancestry] was present. In those days, when the Catholic church still held sway, we were not allowed to attend French schools although we were French speaking. Sal Juif (dirty jew) and swastikas were part of our experience. On the whole, however, Canada was and is a great and welcoming country.

Sadly, the former government of Quebec, Marine Le Pen in France, Trump in the US and others have fanned the flames of hatred against Muslims. Terrorism perpetrated by Al Qaeda, IS, Boko Haram, Assad and others towards fellow Muslims primarily, but also towards others, has contributed to the creation of a very hostile environment for law-abiding Muslims in our country and elsewhere.

Inshallah, this madness will be stopped.

"These policies and speech do not represent us"

Hasanat Kazmi, software engineer, California.

"I live in California and the current political climate has made things very uncertain for Muslims and Pakistanis. I follow Pakistani media and although the media in Pakistan portrays as if everything is going south, I would like to share what my neighbours just sent me:"

"I worry about tomorrow"

Mahnoor Maqbool, MA Psychology in Education, Teachers College, Columbia University.

"Last semester, my biggest worry was what grade I would get in my next assignment. This time around, I worry about whether I am even going to be here tomorrow. It scares and saddens me to know that so many others just like me have been denied the opportunity to live the dreams they worked so hard to achieve."

"I am angry!"

Minahil Asim, PhD candidate Education Policy, UC Davis.

“I am angry! My husband and I discussed moving back to Pakistan and we are both grateful to have that option. This entire thing just shows how ridiculous people were who said not to take Trump seriously.”

"I feel really unsafe"

Natasha Barlas, Masters/CAGS Applied Educational Psychology, Northeastern University.

"I am terrified because despite hearing about Islamophobia, this is the first time I feel that I am personally targeted. There are people who have worked really hard to build their lives here and they are not allowed to come home. For the first time since moving to the US, I feel really unsafe and it feels as if I can’t plan my future."

"These policies have heightened my concerns about my future"

Tehreem Arif, M.S. Enterprise Risk Management, Columbia University.

"As a Muslim student studying in the United States, I believe Trump’s discriminatory policies regarding the Muslim community are very disturbing. These policies have heightened my concerns about my safety and future in the country."

"It makes no sense"

Arman Ashraf, M.S. Development Psychology, Columbia University.

"It makes no sense. The choice of countries for this ban, the time duration – nothing makes sense. But I don’t feel any less unsafe than I did when I first moved here. I never expected a warm welcome being Pakistani and Muslim. I would just like to see how Trump’s foreign policy shapes up now. I feel horrible for the people who have been detained at airports and who find themselves suddenly belonging nowhere."

"I am inspired by how people have responded"

Abbas Shahid, Integrated Marketing, New York University.

"I am frustrated by how the ideals an entire country claims to embody can be forgotten, and such blatant discrimination can be made lawful overnight. However, I am also very inspired by how the people of New York have responded. They stood up even though they were not directly affected by this policy. I am frustrated, but at the same time I want to express my gratitude for getting to live in a city with a strong sense of community and responsibility.”

"I am stunned"

Asif A. Hasan, M.S. Mental Health Counseling, City College of New York.

"I am not concerned or scared for myself, but I am stunned by the way people are being treated across the country – people who had proper visas. I am also concerned for those Pakistanis who are looking for jobs here."

"We are living in a different America now"

Abdullah Bajwa, PhD Candidate Mechanical Engineering, Texas A&M University.

"Seeing the collapse of liberal America right in front of my eyes has been heart-wrenching. President Trump was sworn into office on a Friday and I saw a police officer stationed outside the local mosque during the Friday prayers. This was only the second time during my stay that there had to be an officer present during the prayers. The first time was in late 2016 when the mosque was shot at in the middle of the night. The ensuing outpouring of love from the local community didn't let the incident get to us. We shrugged it off as an act of a deranged individual. But seeing the officer outside the mosque on inauguration day for no apparent threat gave me a much-needed dose of reality. It was then that I realised that things aren't going to be the same anymore. We were living in a different America now."

"The Executive Order meant to create division but it created unity"

Mohsin Fareed, Philadelphia.

"It is true that every action has a reaction, but sometimes, actions bear unwanted reactions. Trump's Executive Order meant to create division but it created unity. The long-term consequences of this order are yet to be established, but it is clear that currently it has created harmony and support in favour of Muslims. American people are seeing the tolerant aspect of Muslims. This is in direct contradiction of what the media has been portraying about Islam and Muslims."