The Orland Park Prayer Center organized a community Action Forum to discuss challenges and opportunities during Trump’s Presidency. The speakers at the event included Dr. Mohammed Kaiseruddin, CIOGC Chairman, Karen Danielson, MAS Outreach Director, and Ahmed Rehab, Executive Director, CAIR-Chicago.
Ahmed Rehab delivered a 30 min presentation on how voter turnout and media played into Trump winning the election. He stated that while 60.5 million people voted for Clinton, 60.0 million voted for Trump and 6.2 million voted for a third party, 100 million people who were illegible to vote decided not to. The other reason for Trump’s election is about the nature of media industry. The media delivers news around the clock and is based on sensational attention capturing, which gave Donald Trump a lot of free air time especially in the primary and beyond. Consequently, Trump did not need to purchase advertisements for his campaign. When comparing the Trump and Bush era, Rehab said, “In 2001, Muslim community was not this stronger and united; CAIR-Chicago opened in 2004 and social media had just started to emerge, today we are legally prepared, our messages go viral on social media and we are present on all objective media platforms like the Huffington Post.”
Speaking on the engagement with government on hate crimes, Dr. Kaiseruddin stated, “We can’t rely on coalition, we need law enforcement to protect us” He then added that even Prophet Mohammed (S) had to use his uncle’s protection, who was not a Muslim, when he was preaching his message in Mecca. Mut‘im ibn ‘Adi, another non-Muslim leader provided asylum for him before he entered Mecca, returning from Ta’if.
Muslims like other minorities need to seek coalitions with interfaith partners and other non-religious organizations. Karen Danielson explained how MAS has evolved into a nationally recognized grassroots movement over the past two decades through working with interfaith groups. After Trump’s election, MAS and The Jewish Voice for Peace launched “I Stand with My Muslim Neighbor” rally which gathered 100 people in Oak Lawn. After the rally, both groups visited businesses and asked their employees to post fliers supportive of Muslims in the windows of their shops.
After the forum, participants expressed their concerns over the rise of hate crimes and asked the panelists whether the Muslim leaders are working on a strategy to encounter it besides relying on law enforcement and how individuals can help. All panelists agreed that everyone including people of other faiths need to join forces and face the Trump America together.