Donald Trump’s top immigration advisor wants to create a registry for Muslims, the Tandon prayer room was graffitied with “Trump!” on the door and people shouted hateful slurs to students wearing hijabs on campus this past week. Muslims faced Islamophobia on and off NYU’s campus throughout the election cycle, and with the Trump as the new president-elect, some Muslims such as Stern junior Essma Bengabsia fear it will start escalating.
“Throughout the election season, Muslims have been treated like second-class citizens. I don’t know how else to say it,” Bengabsia said. “We’ve been dehumanized and degraded to be perceived as something less of an American and less of a human. Our deaths have been celebrated, our patriotism has been questioned and our very citizenship within this nation has been threatened.”
Trump proposed a ban on all Muslims entering the United States, and Bengabsia said his propositions made her ask, “Where will I go?” if new legislature banned her from the country. Bengabsia said Trump’s hateful rhetoric such as celebrating an army general who dipped bullets in pig blood and shot Muslims with them normalizes hate speech towards Muslims.
“Almost once a week for the past month, I have gotten verbally assaulted by Islamophobic bigots,” Bengabsia said. “I was standing in my local Starbucks recently, putting my straw into my drink, when a man almost double my size leaned into my ear and muttered, ‘fucking terrorist.’ A few days before that, I was walking in the streets of Boston when two men stopped, stared me down and started shouting about how those people ‘are going to fucking bomb everything.’”
Bengabsia said that in addition to harassment outside school, she has experienced acceptance and normalization of racism, bigotry, ignorance and hate as a result of the elections at NYU, and that has impacted her life by delegitimizing her basic human rights.
CAS sophomore Bayan Abubakr said that this situation will probably get worse under a Trump presidency. Although Abubakr said that she personally has not been subjected to many attacks, such as people ripping off her hijab, she thinks Islamophobia at NYU is present through discourse between people.
“It’s not like an attack on me — I mean, it is an attack on me — but not physically, so it’s almost hard to deconstruct, because how do I go about this?” Abubakr said. “I can teach you and educate you about the mistake you just made and that sort of mistake and categorization, or I can just leave this conversation, because this hurts.”
Abubakr said that the casual microaggressions she faces puts her in an awkward position, since as a woman of color and as a female Muslim, she feels a responsibility to properly inform other people. However, Abubakr recognizes that she cannot educate everybody about what it means to be Muslim.
“The thing is, people are wild — people are wild with the things they say,” Abubakr said. “And now with the Trump presidency, I just feel like I don’t have a president who backs me. I don’t have a government that supports me. The government does not support me right now.”
However, NYU tries to make an effort to include all students. In various emails issued by the university and NYU president Andrew Hamilton after this year’s election day, they emphasize that the university always strives for inclusiveness.
“Here at NYU, we should remind ourselves who are we as a community,” Hamilton said in his email to the NYU community on Tuesday. “We reject intimidation and discrimination; we strive for diversity and inclusiveness; and we are a community in which each person takes as his or her responsibility the welfare and well-being of others, irrespective of citizenship, faith, race, national origin, gender, sexual orientation or any of the other identities that might, but surely need not, divide us.”
Hamilton issued a prior email that encouraged students to continue with their lives and to keep striving for greater diversity and inclusiveness. However, Abubakr said that Trump’s presidency further marginalizes communities under his leadership and that the hatred his platform created makes her feel left behind in this country.
“I know ‘not my president’ has become a chant at these rallies, but in reality, Trump really is not my president — he does not want to be my president,” Abubakr said. “I am American, but I do not fit into the mold of what an American is.”
Email Diamond Naga Siu at [email protected]