An Open Letter to Donald Trump by an 18-Year-Old Muslim American Student

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I am very encouraged by Ammara Majeed’s letter to Trump, it is worth reading/

Mike Ghouse
World Muslim Congress

​An Open Letter to Donald Trump by an 18-Year-Old Muslim American Student
College student Amara Majeed has a message for the presidential candidate before tonight’s Republican debate.

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Alejandra Roca
By Amara Majeed
    Dear Mr. Trump,

    My name is Amara Majeed, and I am an 18-year-old Muslim American. I was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, and my parents are Sri Lankan immigrants. To give you some background about myself: I am an activist and feminist. I am the author of The Foreigners, a book written in an attempt to eradicate stereotypes about Muslims. At 16, I founded “The Hijab Project,” a global initiative that promotes the understanding and empowerment of Muslim women through social experimentation. I have received a great deal of attention from the media for this project and have been featured by numerous national and international media sources, including but not limited to BBC, MSNBC, Yahoo!, and Seventeen. 

    I was invited to the Senate Floor to receive an official citation for The Hijab Project, and was recently named by Business Insider as one of the twenty most impressive high school students graduating in 2015. I was named by BBC as one of the 100 Most Inspiring Women of 2015, and featured in the 2015 season of BBC‘s “100 Women.” I am currently working on the development of an app intended to revolutionize the education industry and allow professors to better tailor to students’ needs. I’m also a pre-law student at Brown University.

    Mr. Trump, I am not using this letter as a way to condemn you or embarrass you, rather, I want to give you some perspective. I’m not sure whether you say the things that you do because you genuinely believe them, or in an attempt to reign as the number one Republican candidate trending on social media, but I’m here to tell you that your statements are inherently harmful and affect us Muslims in profound ways. Please take the time to read the following.

    I was rushing to my dorm room after a long day of classes last week; it was dark outside, and the usual bustling of college students talking and laughing was replaced by an eerie emptiness of the streets because it was finals week. I checked the time on my phone: 5:29pm. I needed to head back to my dorm room to perform the Islamic prayer that comes after sunset, but I was going to miss it.
    Through the streetlight, I saw a large shadow quickly approaching behind me. I could feel my heartbeat quicken, and I increased the length of my strides. My dorm room was still about a block away, so I reached back for the hood of my jacket and put it on. My Islamic headscarf was a very visible indicator of my faith, and I didn’t feel entirely comfortable with it exposed now that Muslim hate-speech has become an accepted part of the national dialogue, thanks to you.

    I have always thought of this country as my home, because it always has been and someday I’d like to teach my children that this country is their home. Yet, in that moment, I did not feel safe or secure. After all, how can I feel safe? You are creating an atmosphere in which my entire identity is reduced to narrow-minded bias based on my skin color, my last name, and what I choose to wear on my head.  It therefore becomes justifiable to marginalize me, to scrutinize me, to use physical violence to hurt me. Just this month, a Muslim storeowner was beaten in broad daylight by a man who allegedly told him, “I’ll kill all Muslims.” That same week, a Muslim girl in New York was allegedly beaten by three boys as they had tried to rip her hijab off and called her “ISIS.” And a 16-year-old Muslim boy reportedly fell off a balcony, but there has been uproar in the Muslim community in Seattle over the possibility of a hate crime

    I’ve received many hateful comments on my social media platforms in recent weeks. It scares me to know that in California following the San Bernardino shootings, the top Google search with the word “Muslims” in it was “kill Muslims.” I always tell myself not to hate people, regardless of how ignorant they are; regardless of how many times I hear the phrase, “Go back to where you belong;” regardless of how many people target Muslims in hate crimes; regardless of how uncomfortable, unsafe, and quite frankly, invalid people like you, Mr. Trump, make us Muslim Americans feel. Regardless of all of these things, I will never hate individuals like you because ultimately, terrorism is perpetuated on the basis of hate. I won’t compromise my own character and values by contributing to this very cyclical process of terrorism brought by blind hate. I am a strong believer in the human potential and the capacity for human change, and I’ve made it my mission to use my life to undo the hatred that people like you create, and eradicate stereotypes about Muslims.

    Never before have I felt unsafe walking home alone at night. But here I was last week, walking uneasily and alone on a dark street. Attempting to calm myself, I began to silently recite Ayat al Kursi, a verse in the Quran that is believed to provide protection. I checked my phone once again: 5:32pm. Just a few minutes more until the prayer would be over — I recognized that perhaps this wasn’t the political climate to be openly expressing my faith. I was strongly considering heading to Starbucks and forgoing my prayer, but something stopped me. Instead, I found a corner near a street lamp and set my backpack down. As I raised my hands to my shoulders and quietly said, “Allahu Akbar,” I contemplated how incredibly perverted this particular phrase has become. Muslims say it dozens of times a day over the course of five daily prayers. I’ve always found its  translation, “God is great,” to be so beautiful. However, I could feel my eyes scanning my surroundings — I was cautiously making sure nobody was around as I said this while prostrating to my God. This is the same word that a minority group of so-called Muslims have said before opening fire, not in twisted attempts at pleasing God or being good Muslims, but in order to further their own selfish political agendas. 

    With all due respect, Mr. Trump, you are a demagogue who is capitalizing on Americans’ fear and paranoia; you are scapegoating an entire population of 1.6 billion people in an attempt to further your campaign, in an attempt to “make America great again.” But the effect of this is that by advocating for the registration of Muslim Americans and the banning of Muslims from entering the United States, you are providing a platform on which the marginalization of and discrimination against an entire group of people becomes justifiable, even “American.” I could go on about how problematic it is that you equate the actions of a small extremist group with nearly a fourth of the world’s population, but I find it to be of even greater interest that white supremacists are actually greater perpetrators of domestic terrorismcompared to Muslim terrorists. 

    Furthermore, you’ve never once had a discourse regarding the role that the U.S. played in the creation of terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda and ISIS. Gore Vidal famously called the USA the United States of Amnesia because of Americans’ unique way of “forgetting” the historical underpinnings of events. For instance, we often times “forget” that the Western world armed Islamic extremists during the Cold War; this eventually created Al Qaeda. The illegal U.S. war and occupation in Iraq caused the destabilization of the entire Middle East, and has resulted in the deaths of at least one million people. 
    Of course, this is nonchalantly written off as a “necessary measure.” This destabilization eventually led to the emergence of ISIS. Ben Norton remarks, “Saddam Hussein was the first Frankenstein’s monster U.S. policy created in Iraq, al-Qaida was the second, and now ISIS is the third.” By disregarding the historical and political context of recent terrorist attacks, Mr. Trump, you are in turn giving Americans a very extreme, misconstrued portrait of Muslims. You are exploiting the fear and paranoia that you’ve incited to “other” an entire group of people in order to further your own political campaign. There is nothing Islamic about ISIS, and I’m tired of Islam being blamed when the problem at hand is in fact deeply rooted in politics.

    My parents came to this country as Sri Lankan immigrants, and they have reiterated to my siblings and me how incredibly lucky and privileged we are to live in such a country. I’ve always felt that, in order to validate my parents’ leaving their homes and previous lives in order to start a new one for us, it is my personal obligation to somehow attain this abstract concept known as the American Dream. Mr. Trump, your hateful comments represent regressions into history — a history in which it was acceptable to discriminate against and ruthlessly murder African Americans based on their race, a history in which it was considered correct to put Japanese Americans in internment camps based on their heritage, a history in which it was considered necessary to murder Jews on the basis of their religion. Every time you make a statement or proposal that demonizes an entire group of people, that incites division and violence against this said group of people, you are essentially undoing the tireless efforts of the people in the past who have worked so hard to contribute to the development of the incredible nation that we live in today. 

    You are dragging the American people back into the past, keeping us from moving forward. I have always believed that the rent I pay for being privileged enough to grow up in the United States is to contribute to the advancement of modern American society. And that’s the thing, Mr. Trump: You can never take that away from me. While I pray to my God that our social values are not so fundamentally flawed that someone with ideas as backwards as yours can actually be elected president, even in a worst-case scenario in which you do become elected, I will refuse to allow the fear that you create paralyze me from being a true American. Regardless of how much you criminalize and dehumanize Muslims, you will never be able to invalidate our American identities. We Muslim Americans will continue to make America great, if not greater.

    Yours truly,
    Amara Majeed

    Amara can be found on Facebook at (This is her main social media platform.) She can also be found on Instagram as amara.majeed, and on Twitter as @amaramaj.

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