Central Ky Muslims React to Trump Inauguration With Vigilance, Education, Kindness

Jan 20, 2017

On Friday, Donald Trump, who has no elected or military experience and is known for his inflammatory remarks about minorities will become the 45th president of the United States.  

As WEKU’s Cheri Lawson reports, some area Muslims are responding with vigilance, education and kindness.

Cheri: Dr. Nadia Rasheed was born and raised in New York City 57 years ago. She believes in America and its freedoms.

Rasheed: “I always kind of think that the best place in the world for me to practice Islam is America because I have the right of religious freedom.”

Cheri: The anesthesiologist and her husband have lived in Lexington 26 years. She’s active in Central Kentucky’s Muslim Community.

Rasheed didn’t vote for Trump but says, despite his remarks about her religion, she will look at his presidency as a new chapter and continue teaching people about Islam and answering questions about Muslims.

Rasheed: “A lot of Americans really haven’t met their Muslim neighbor. Sometimes when you only see what’s going on on television which is only a very minority of the 1.5 billion Muslims in the world, it’s a problem when all you watch is news and that’s your idea of Muslims. But when you get to meet your Muslim neighbor you say, ‘Hey, they’re just like me.’”

Cheri: But her concerns about Donald Trump’s rhetoric go beyond his words about Muslims and Islam.

Rasheed: “What bothers me is really the way he treats women, what he has said about women, what he said about a lot of things. It’s not just the Islam thing. What he said about a disabled reporter. Who talks like that? Is he serious? We’re going to see what’s going to happen and what he’s going to do. But we’re watching and we know our rights and we are citizens of this country and we will stick up for our rights and other minorities rights.”

Cheri: Since the election, hate crimes against immigrants and minorities, including Muslims across the country have increased, according to the The Southern Poverty Law Center and the Council on American Islamic Relations.

Roula Allouch is a Northern Kentucky attorney and national board chair for CAIR. She’s concerned about increasing Islamaphobia  along with hate crimes directed at anyone.

Allouch: “One of the positives that we’ve seen has been the coming together of people of different back grounds and faith communities and those who stand against all those forms of hate. Unfortunately, I do think there’s been a specific  target and increase on attacks against the Muslim community.”

Among voters who supported Donald Trump was Kentucky native and Muslim Michael Pack.  Pack was a third generation coal miner who lost his job.

He and his wife Siska who is from Indonesia, have two children. They feel supported in their Eastern Kentucky community.

Pack: “People discriminate out of ignorance. We’ve had people stare at my wife and my wife would give them an opportunity to ask a question and it comes about, ‘Why are you wearing a hijab?’ And it’s not necessarily a discrimination that they stare at her, it’s more a curiosity. If you don’t give them an opportunity to ask, then the curiosity may go into resentment. Give the people an opportunity to ask.”

Siska Pack chose not to vote in the election but believes Americans should give Donald Trump a chance. Her family is bi-racial and Muslim. Siska says she prays for those who are discriminated against.

Siska:  “For our safety, for everybody’s safety. You’re not a Muslim, I’m still praying for you. This is America.  This is how we are. I’m from Indonesia, you’re from England, from Canada or Mexico, wherever. This is what America is.  It’s a melting pot.  Everybody’s here.

Dr. Nadia Rasheed encourages everyone to get to know someone who is from a different faith or race.  One place she recommends is the monthly Christian-Muslim Dialogue in Lexington.

Rasheed: “The best way to understand another religion, another group, another ethnicity is to really sit and have a cup of coffee or tea and just talk and we’ll see, boy, we have so much in common.”