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How attending an airport rally helped me regain hope

When television networks, politicians and internet trolls facilitate Islamophobia, it's easy to feel hopeless that people will ever see or understand the beauty in Islam.

In the two weeks since Donald Trump officially became president, Trump has signed multiple executive orders that have already had severe political ramifications across the globe.

On Friday, President Trump issued an executive order temporarily banning immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. After Trump introduced the idea of a Muslim ban in December 2015, Republicans went on television and said the proposal would not happen. Vice President Mike Pence even tweeted that a Muslim ban is “offensive” and “unconstitional.”

It’s undeniable that Muslims were frequently targeted and attacked over the course of the 2016 election. Not only did Trump tell CNN’s Anderson Cooper that “Islam hates us,” he also falsely stated that he saw thousands of Muslims cheering as the Twin Towers fell in September 2001.

Even Hillary Clinton frequently talked about Muslims in the context of terrorism, saying that America needs “to work with American Muslim communities who are on the front lines to identify and prevent attacks.”

Many American Muslims, including myself, have grown tired of being singled out by politicians. We are tired of the anti-Islamic rhetoric used to instill fear in people gain their votes. We are sick of constantly being correlated with terrorism when we have nothing to do with violent extremists halfway across the world.

When television networks, politicians and internet trolls facilitate Islamophobia, it’s easy to feel hopeless that people will ever see or understand the beauty of Islam.

When you hear about mosques being set on fire, it’s difficult to stay positive.

When you hear about Muslims being shot dead as they prayed in a Quebec City mosque, it’s easy to lose hope.
When you hear about Syrian refugees being denied entry into the United States, it’s hard to remain optimistic.

When you hear about mosques being set on fire, it's difficult to stay positive. Click To Tweet

But after I saw how thousands of Americans voluntarily went to airports to protest the immigration ban, I was deeply moved. My fellow Americans showed they will not remain silent about President Trump’s unjust and discriminatory executive order.

I attended a rally at Bradley International Airport in Connecticut and saw people holding a signs saying “Muslims wanted” and “Fuck Islamophobia.” People came up to me and complemented my American flag hijab and asked to take pictures with me. I had conversations with some of the friendliest strangers.

On television, I watched national news coverage of non-Muslims forming protective circles around Muslims as they prayed in airports.

Never in my life have I seen large groups of Muslims praying so comfortably in American airports.

Never in my life have I seen large groups of Muslims praying so comfortably in airports. Click To Tweet

I even saw a video of an Arab using a tabla during an airport protest as others chanted and danced along to the beat. You would have thought it was the scene from an Arab wedding–not a gathering near baggage claim.

Non-Muslims have shown an incredible amount of support for Muslims, immigrants and refugees.By coming together and standing for justice, I believe that we can tackle xenophobia and Islamophobia. I’ve learned not to underestimate the power of people united together.

When you’re used to hearing so much negativity about Islam and refugees, it’s easy to start feeling touch of hopelessness. The amount of kindness, compassion and support that I saw at the airport showed me that losing hope is not an option. We need to channel that frustration into action to invoke change with the help and support of others.

The amount of compassion I saw at the airport showed me that losing hope is not an option . Click To Tweet

After all, Islam teaches believers to never lose hope. I am reminded of a verse in the third chapter of the Quran in which Allah says, “Do not lose hope, nor be sad. You will surely be victorious if you are true believers.”

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Ayah Galal

Ayah Galal

Editorial Fellow Ayah Galal is double majoring in journalism and political science at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. She loves coffee, books and traveling. Ayah is passionate about combating Islamophobia through the media.

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